How To Prepare For Your First Counseling Session - Danielle Tu
Preparing yourself for your first counseling session may feel like a daunting task. It can be scary opening up to a complete stranger! Inviting a third party into our thoughts and feelings is an extremely vulnerable thing to do. Most of us dislike feeling vulnerable because we associate this with feeling small, powerless, and out of control. However, the counseling relationship isdesigned to be a much different experience.
A counselor’s heart is for the client. Her goal is to make the client know they are unconditionally accepted for who they are and where they are at. When vulnerability is met with acceptance, this can be a very empowering experience.
But what if you are not ready to step into a counselor’s office?
That’s okay! Allow yourself to 1) accept where you are, 2) calm any fears, and 3) prepare to take that courageous step.
There are also a few things you can do to get yourself prepared before your first counseling session.
If you are comfortable, ask a friend! Maybe they see a counselor or they have a friend who does. Getting recommendations from people you trust can make finding a good counselor a lot easier.
Eliminate the unknown as much as possible. If you can, read about your prospective counselor online if they have a short bio or description of their practice. Viewing a profile picture is preferable too! Familiarizing yourself with a prospective counselor before meeting them in person will help you feel more comfortable because you already know what to expect.
Try the empty chair technique. Pull up a chair and picture someone sitting in it (you can even go off of the profile picture you found!). Talk to this imaginary counselor as if you were in a real counseling session. These practice sessions can be a great tool to organize your thoughts and decide what you will say. Take notes afterwards! You can even bring these notes to counseling sessions if you want some good conversation starters.
If your first counseling session does not go well, do not fret. Although this may be frustrating, keep looking. There are so many counselors out there! You will find someone who fits your needs, so do not give up.
Lastly, you should be proud of yourself! Deciding to see a counselor takes great courage and humility. You are already heading in the right direction, so be patient with yourself.
May God be with you as you seek Him in this journey. He will guide your steps and fill you with His peace. This is a peace not based on circumstances, but based on the knowledge of His Presence. Jesus promises to be with us wherever we go, and this absolutely includes the counseling office! He is with you and will never leave you.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Danielle Tu graduated from William Jessup University with a B.A. in Psychology. She begins her Masters in Counseling this fall at Western Seminary. This past year, Danielle married her high school sweetheart, Joshua Tu, and they are now living in San Jose, California. During her free time, Danielle enjoys writing, painting, and dancing.