When you first get in touch to set up some counselling I will invite you to have an introductory session.
If you are thinking of booking an introductory session with me you might find this blog helpful to learn more about what to expect.
What is an introductory session?
An introductory session is is different from a normal counselling session. It's basically a chance to meet with me and see if we feel comfortable working together.
Instead of just starting counselling sessions and committing straight away, I want to help give you some time to work out if you want to work with me.
You may have read lots of stuff on my website and watched my little videos, but until you actually meet me you won't know if it's going to feel right for you.
An introductory session gives you the opportunity to meet me to help you think about what you want from counselling. We will also talk about why you feel counselling might be helpful for you right now in your life.
Is there a structure?
Introductory sessions last 50 minutes. I tend to suggest that we divide the time.
The first half of the session will be an opportunity for you tell me a little bit about yourself. You can tell me if you have had any experience of counselling in the past and why you're looking for counselling now. You might not know why and that's ok.
Then once we get to half way through the time I will share with you a little more about the practicalities of counselling and how things will work going forward if you wanted to start sessions. I will also give you lots of space to ask me questions. You may want to ask about my experience, how I work, etc.
Do I need to prepare anything?
You don't need to prepare anything.
There is no expectation to have anything ready to say. However if you think it might be helpful you could have a think about what you might like to share with me.
Do I have to tell you everything?
No. In fact I would discourage you from trying to tell me everything when we first meet.
Firstly, that would be impossible as we only 50mins. Secondly if you try to cram in a summary of everything that's going on for you it's going to feel very exhausting and exposing for you.
Instead it can be helpful to name the main things you think you want some help with, but you don't have to go in to loads of details.
What if something comes up later that I didn't mention in the introductory session?
This is totally fine and in fact pretty common.
Many people don't realise until they get started with counselling sessions that there are other things that they might need to explore. Also, things might happen in your life which you want to talk about that don't feel directly related to the issue you came with from the start. This is ok.
This is your time so you can use future sessions in a way that works for you and talk about anything you need to.
Do I need to go really deep in the introductory session?
It is not recommended as very helpful to go really deep in an introductory session for a few reasons.
Firstly, we don't know if you are going to want to work with me so it's probably going to feel quite upsetting to go really deep and then not come back.
Secondly, in counselling it's really important that you feel settled and comfortable with your counsellor so that you can feel safer to think about opening up about deeper things.
If you were to open up about something that feels particularly traumatic in the introductory session it could re-traumatise you. What I mean by this is that it could make you re-experience the trauma again very suddenly. Before going very deep I want to take time to build our relationship together first to help you feel safer so that I can help you better.
Going slow and steadily into traumatic things can often be more helpful, and I will help you to do this.
What if I haven't had counselling before?
This is totally fine.
Many people come to counselling and have not had counselling before. If you have not had counselling before it's likely that this might feel very strange to you as you don't know what to expect.
I will do all I can to help explain what counselling is and how I work so that it doesn't feel like a mystery process where you don't know what you're supposed to say and do.
Should I tell you if I've had counselling before?
I will normally ask if you have had any counselling before as it can be helpful for me to know what your experiences have been like in the past. You may have had a great experience or a terrible experience.
This can be helpful for us to reflect on, as it can help me to help you better if I know a bit more about what has and hasn't worked for you in counselling in the past.
Are there lots of forms to do in the session?
There are no forms to do in the session. I find most people find forms with tick boxes and long lists of 'problems' can be very overwhelming.
I'm not going to ask you loads of detailed questions about your family history and mental health. This usually comes as a relief to most people I meet as they have experienced having to open up about everything to other professionals before they are ready to share.
By not having loads of forms it means we can use the time in a more flexible way where you tell me what you feel ready to and what's relevant for you to share.
Do I have to decide in the session if I want to start counselling sessions?
There is no pressure to decide in the introductory session if you want counselling with me. You may wish to have a think about it or try other counsellors out before making a decision.
If you do decide to start counselling sessions, we will agree and day and time to meet weekly. Counselling sessions can usually start within a week.
What if I have another questions before booking an introductory session?
Feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org with any other questions. I look forward to hearing from you when you are ready.
How do I book an introductory session?
To book an introductory session click here to choose your day/time and how you would like to meet me. Options include video call, phone or email session.
A few days before your appointment I'll send you a very short registration form where I ask for your contact details and date of birth. There a couple of other documents I send for you to look over which explain things like confidentiality and what I do keep our work professional and ethical.
I look forward to hearing from you and meeting you soon.