When you don’t know what to expect from counselling, the idea of jumping in and getting started can be daunting. I’ve written this counselling FAQ to answer some of the questions that I’ve most commonly been asked to give you an idea of what you can expect if you decide to begin your counselling journey.
If you have any other questions at all then please get in touch – I’d love to hear from you.
Do clients need to prepare anything for their first session?
No, not at all.
If you’ve already thought about what you want to address then that’s great, but there’s no expectation for you to do this before the first session.
Some clients come along with a very clear idea of what they want to talk about, and others don’t. I will work with you, wherever you are.
What happens in a client’s first session?
It depends on the person, but generally, we’ll start with a conversation about how they have been feeling, what’s been happening in their lives and what’s brought them to counselling.
The first session is about helping the client to feel comfortable, and beginning to show them that counselling is a place where they can express their feelings without judgement. I will encourage clients to open up, but it’s their decision how much they want to share.
A lot of the problems that people have are caused by feeling ashamed of the feelings that they are having. Part of my job is helping people to accept their feelings so that they can begin to work with them. This work begins in the first session.
How long do you typically work with your clients?
This really varies from person to person.
I always recommend a minimum of six sessions, because this is how long it takes to build a strong enough relationship to do valuable work and make a real difference in your life.
I have had some clients who I have worked with for as long as three years, which provides them with a huge opportunity for growth.
Generally, when clients first come to counselling they are experiencing some form of crisis. If they stick with the counselling process once the crisis is over, they have an opportunity to look back on their behaviour during the crisis period and learn from it. This allows them to see which behaviours are serving them, which behaviours aren’t, and have more choice over how they behave in the future.
Do you offer any concessionary rates?
It’s really important to me that everyone can access counselling, and I don’t want money to be a barrier.
If you’re thinking about counselling but worried that you can’t afford it then please get in touch, as I may be able to help.
What are your clients the most apprehensive about when they start counselling?
Depending on the person, there are a lot of reasons that a person might be apprehensive about counselling. Some of the reasons that I’ve come across are:
- Feeling that they shouldn’t be talking about the issues that matter to them, because of the shame that is attached to them.
- A worry that if they talk about a loved one during counselling, that this is a betrayal.
- Fear that a counsellor will be able to tell things about them that they would rather they didn’t know.
- A lot of men, in particular, can feel shame about admitting that they are struggling. Although it’s got better over the past few years, there is a lot of stigma around men’s mental health which prevents men from seeking help.
I always reassure clients that counselling is a safe and non-judgemental space, and anything that they bring to a session is confidential.
Although I’m trained to spot patterns of behaviour that I might bring to your attention, I can’t read your mind or know anything about you that you don’t want me to.
What is unique about your counselling service?
Probably my persona!
When people meet me for the first time they don’t often think I’m a counsellor. I don’t look like a typical counsellor, I’m covered in tattoos and I’m pretty large in stature. This makes me more approachable than other counsellors for a lot of my clients.
I’m also not afraid to put myself in the room if I think it will be helpful. I’m happy to share my own experiences with managing addictive tendencies, and clients find it really helpful to talk to someone who has been where they are.
I take an existential approach to counselling, by which I mean that I am a huge advocate of talking about our mortality and accepting it for what it is. I encourage people to think about how they want to make the most out of life given that it is limited, and support them to go for what they want and grab life by the horns!