Many people take months or even years to make up their minds and schedule their first counseling session. Once you have taken the big step and you are ready for your first appointment, it is natural to feel anxious or even intimidated. However, by preparing yourself better for the first appointment, you can manage your feelings well and make the most from your session with the counselor.
Set clear goals
Before you visit the counselor, make sure you know what you are seeking from the therapy. You cannot just go to the counselor and say that you want to feel better or more relaxed. Make a note of your exact goals and think of why you wanted to see a counselor in the first place. For example, your goal could be to overcome stranger anxiety due to childhood trauma or to panic less when appearing for interviews. These are just simple examples of how you should have precise goals in mind. The best thing to do is to make a list of things you would like to bring up in your first session. Make sure you communicate these goals clearly to your counselor so that the therapy is directed in the right direction.
Manage your expectations
Therapy has been proven effective in helping people manage some common mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. However, it is important to note that therapy is not an instant cure-all for your issues. Therapy is a long process and takes a lot of work. You cannot expect to be cured of all your woes after your first appointment. It will take a few sessions before you can see changes. So, have some realistic goals in mind to avoid disappointments later on.
Schedule your first appointment at a convenient time
It is best to schedule your appointment for a time when you have no other things to worry about. While some people may find themselves relaxed and refreshed after the session, others may delve into deep thoughts and may need time to settle. Also, make sure you have some time to yourself before you go for your first session. Opening up to someone about your fears, anxieties, feelings, or trauma can be overwhelming. Give yourself some time to collect your thoughts and clear your mind. Ensure that you have ample time to get ready for the appointment and reach in time without the stress of running late.
Trust your counselor
While it is normal to feel anxious about your first counseling session, you must remember that your counselor is trying to learn so that they can plan your further sessions accordingly and set you up for success. Counselors are just normal people who are professionally trained to help people. So, prepare yourself for a normal conversation and think of the session as a meeting with your friend or confidant. Your therapist can be your biggest support system, so you should feel good about meeting them and not intimidated.
Talk to your loved ones
By talking to your loved ones about your upcoming counseling session, you can reduce potential feelings of anxiety. They can offer support and some friends may even offer some helpful insights. So, speak to your close friends and family about it and you will be surprised how good you feel about it.
When going for your first counseling session (and the subsequent ones), be open and honest. It is okay to feel a little vulnerable but eventually, you will start feeling great about the process.