We’ve already talked about when it’s the right time to seek counseling. And now it’s time to answer another one of the most frequent questions that those who are dedicated to psychology get: What happens during the first visit to the psychologist?
Deciding to start a counseling process is one thing. Making a date and having the first session is a whole other matter. This step can cause not only stress, but real anguish in many people. Knowing what happens in the first session can help make things more comfortable.
What happens during the first session?
Each therapist handles the first sessions in a different way. But in general, the first session is about knowing and clarifying why you are seeking psychological guidance. Many people have the motive very clear, but many others approach a psychologist because they have an uneasiness or restlessness that they can not define. Most of the first session will deal with this.
The first session is also different from the rest because, usually, the therapist will explain how the therapeutic process works. That is, when and where the sessions will be held, what the therapist’s commitment to you is and what things are expected from you (for example, punctuality and cancellation policy may be discussed). This is known as the frame of the process.
That’s pretty much it… there’s no hidden mystery to the first consultation.
If scheduling your first session makes you nervous, I’d like you to have two things in mind:
1. It’s totally normal:
You start something new and different, you will talk about personal things, and you won’t always hear what you want to hear — who wouldn’t feel a bit nervous?
That being said, you shouldn’t lose your mind over it. During the first session, if you anxiously talk a mile a minute, your therapist will guide you a little if necessary. On the other hand, if you’re left with nothing to say because you’ve no idea where to start, your therapist will ask you questions little by little.
This is the psychologist’s job at the first consultation: to make you express yourself freely without feeling questioned or judged.
2. You do not have to have a psychological disorder to see a therapist.
You’ve got to leave the myths behind. Psychological counseling can help people with mental disorders, of course. However, leaving behind stigmas about mental health (going to the psychologist = I’m crazy) will make you feel more comfortable with your decision to receive psychological counseling. Also, it’ll help overcome dangerous stereotypes. In this regard, I recommend you watch this video of The School of Life. It is a short animation about what psychotherapy is and what it implies:
It can be hard to see that therapy isn’t in fact for the select, disturbed few, it’s for everyone. Because actually It’s entirely ordinary to be confused, a bit anxious and sometimes challenged by relationships, family life and the direction of your career.
If you have ever considered starting a process of psychological counseling please watch the video. It’s worth it.
I hope this post can help you imagine what a first session is like. To me, it’s definitely the beginning of an enriching journey.