Starting counselling

— 4 minute read

When I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and to go on. It is astonishing how elements which seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens. How confusions which seem irremediable turn into relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.

Carl Rogers

2 people sitting close together, cannot see their faces but see their hands in their laps

There are different ways of exploring whether you'd like to have counselling - or focusing, or coaching sessions with me.

You can email, text or call me. We can then either book in a first session (in-person or online) or you can have an introductory chat for about 20-30 minutes that is free of charge. Here you can ask questions about how I work and share a bit about what you're looking for from counselling or coaching, or ask what a focusing session would look like. You can then decide if you'd like to book a session with me, or leave it there.

What happens in a first session?

I like to give you plenty of time in a first session to talk about what you need to. This means that you start to have some counselling and see how it feels to work with me, and start getting a sense of how I work.

There are a few things that will also be a part of the first session:

I will have sent you my counselling agreement before we meet and we will go through that together so that you're clear on things like cancelling a session, how I store notes of our meetings, and about confidentiality. I will also make a note of your contact details and how to contact you.

It is also helpful to spend some time thinking together about what you want from counselling sessions. This might be as general as to feel better, eg if you're currently depressed, or ways to cope with and alleviate anxiety. Or it might be more specific. If we continue to work together, we will revisit this as we go along, to see if counselling (or coaching, or focusing) is meeting your needs.

The first session (and introductory chat) is also a good time to ask any questions you have, how I work and so on. I am very happy to answer as best I can any questions you have.

You are under no pressure at all to continue after the first session. However, it is worth bearing in mind that it can all feel strange at first and it might take 2, 3 sessions to assess how it is for you. I find that a lot of people need to share with me what they've been holding in and coping with in their first session, especially if they are feeling a lot of need for counselling. I am committed to being with you and to fully hearing and understanding what you're going through, and what you're needing from me, your counsellor.

Some people meet with more than one counsellor for an initial chat or first session to see what feels right to them. The therapeutic relationship between you and your counsellor is of paramount importance and it is totally fine to try out a few different counsellors. You won't offend me :)

Although many people do share a lot in the first session, and get things off their chest, it is also absolutely fine to not feel ok sharing yet, to ask questions, to test the water, and to take things at your pace. I can also offer some anxiety-calming breathing and grounding techniques if you feel overwhelmed when we first meet. It is normal to feel very apprehensive, scared or unsettled about meeting someone - me - for the first time. It would be a bit strange if you didn't (though if you don't feel apprehensive that is also fine!).

I am committed to making your first session as comfortable as possible, and there are no rules on how you should be. Please feel welcomed to come as you are.