What should I expect during my first counseling session?

One of the most common questions that I receive from potential clients is about what to expect from the first session.   I often describe the first meeting as a chance for me to get to know my clients and my clients to get to know me in order to make sure we are a good fit for working together.   Clients often get a sense quickly about whether or not they feel comfortable with a counselor.   The counselor will likely use the information provided in the first meeting to evaluate whether he/she the best therapist for a client based on the counselor’s level of expertise with the presenting concerns and the level of service that is needed.

Every counselor handles their initial meeting with clients slightly differently, but this is a rough outline of what to expect at some point during the first session:

 An introduction to your counselor and the counseling process

  • The counselor will review his/her qualifications and approach to counseling.  I personally invite my clients to ask me any questions that they may have about me that would help them feel most comfortable working with me.
  • You will likely review policies and complete any required paperwork.  This includes your rights and responsibilities, financial policies and the provider’s privacy notice.
  • You will discuss the limits of confidentiality.

An in depth discussion of your presenting concerns, symptoms and your personal history

  • It may feel like your counselor is asking a lot of personal questions, but this is an important part of understanding your presenting concerns and the contributing factors.
  • Please be as honest as possible as the information provided will influence the recommendations that your counselor makes.
  • The counselor may share some diagnostic impressions based on the symptoms you have described.

A discussion of the next steps

  • Your counselor will likely check in with you and see what your level of comfort was during the session and share his/her recommendations.
  • If either the client or the counselor feel that they are not a good fit for working together, a referral may be made.
  • The counselor may recommend further assessment.
  • If further assessment is not needed, the counselor may propose a recommended approach to addressing your concerns and a recommended frequency of appointments.
  • You and your counselor will likely discuss goals you would like to address in counseling and how you will begin to address those goals.
A lot happens in an initial session and it is possible that it may take more than one session to address all of these areas thoroughly.

The main thing to take away from your first meeting is a sense of whether or not you feel comfortable with your counselor and believe that he or she may be able to help you accomplish the goals that bring you to counseling.

If you have any questions or concerns, please share them with your counselor.  We want you to feel comofortable.

If you are looking for counseling in the Eagan, Minnesota area please visit my counseling page for more information about the services I offer.


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