What to expect in your first counselling session

If you haven’t experienced counselling before, it’s likely you won’t know what to expect. This might lead to worry or confusion that might even put you off taking those first steps.

In this article we walk you through what to expect in your first NECS counselling session.

Before your appointment

The process actually begins before your first session. 

You’ll firstly need to share some information on your symptoms as part of your referral. You won’t need to go into much detail, but it will help us understand what’s made you want to contact us and match a counsellor to you.  

We don’t have long waiting lists and your initial assessment will usually take place within a week. A counsellor will both recap and dig a little deeper into the concerns you’re experiencing.

We will also cover what we call your “therapeutic contract”. This sounds more formal than it is, but is just something that reassures you about:

  • Confidentiality
  • Your relationship with your counsellor, including boundaries
  • What the sessions will look like in terms of length and location
  • Your goals
  • General admin, such as how to reschedule an appointment
  • A chance to ask any questions you may have

Your first appointment

All NECS counsellors are normal, approachable people who are there to help you explore your feelings through a mix of questions and conversations. 

We often say that you’re the one with the answers, and our role is to help you express how you’re feeling and help you find ways forward and to unpack how you’re feeling.

Your counsellor will never tell you want to do but they can guide you in finding your own solutions. 

They may have heard similar issues before, but you’ll come with your own unique emotions and therefore their recommendations will be specific to you and your concerns.

During your appointment, your counselor will use a variety of techniques to help you understand your thoughts, emotions and your past to unearth the underlying problem. 

An important part of your counsellor’s job is to help make sure you feel safe – something we’re particularly passionate about. 

Opening up and discussing some of the very intimate or frightening parts of your life takes bravery and can be very difficult to deal with. The counsellor will guide you through this, parking anything that needs to be addressed later and ensuring you’re in a safe mindset to leave the session. 

You may get upset, angry or frustrated as you explore your concerns – this is absolutely normal, and your counsellor knows it isn’t directed towards them. You’ll learn more about this while discussing your therapeutic contract.

After your session

Counselling can be draining at times, and you can expect to feel exhausted after your sessions. This is completely normal – you have given yourself a mental workout. Your counsellor may even recommend that you do not return to work following your appointment due to the emotional drain. 

Counselling is a journey, a (recommended) weekly one. You may need to consider some of the things you have explored during your session before your next appointment, or practice some self-care. We always recommend that you follow the direction of your counsellor – they’re the one you have trusted to guide you on this journey. 

Remind yourself that there is no quick fix, and therefore you may not feel immediate benefits from counselling. But make sure to remember your goals and the journey you’re on, recognising and celebrating each small step in the right direction.

We hope you’ve now got a better picture of what therapy looks like. If you’re ready to start your own journey, contact us to arrange your initial assessment. We are able to offer support to individuals throughout the UK via telephone and video call appointments.

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