If you’re reading this then most likely you’re at least considering going to counseling…but you may have some reservations. That’s OK! If this is your first time going to counseling you may not know what to expect, and may feel doubtful as to whether this is even for you. Full disclosure: I am a counselor, and I believe almost anyone can benefit from counseling (but of course a counselor would say that!). Still, let me present you with 4 ideas that will hopefully calm any fears you have about attending counseling.
1) Your Counselor Will Be a Nice Person
I’m not trying to brag, but counselors are some of the nicest people you are ever going to meet. You see, counselors are people who have chosen to spend a large portion of their time listening to and being supportive of others. As a matter of fact, us counselors have had to go to school to learn how to “properly” show unconditional and positive support. All this is to say that, in generally, we’re pretty nice!
2) Your Feedback Is Valuable
As a counselor I love it when my clients give me honest feedback about our sessions and about my counseling approach. You see, counseling is not a “one size fits all” kind of thing. It’s our job to tailor our approach to each individual client. Furthermore, it makes it even easier to do that when clients explicitly tell us what they find helpful/unhelpful in their sessions. Of course, sometimes it can be hard to even pinpoint specifically what it is about your counseling sessions that doesn’t quite work for your. The good news is that it’s a great idea to explore this with your counselor in order to see what changes can be made.
3) It Takes Time
I would recommend avoiding any unrealistic expectations about what is going to happen in counseling during the first several sessions. For example, you may not experience an instant connection with your counselor. At first you may have some mixed feelings about him or her, and you may feel reluctant to share very personal information. This is OK. It can take a little while before you feel comfortable enough to share your innermost thoughts and personal experiences. Please be patient with yourself and with the counseling process. Also, don’t expect all of your problems to be resolved within the first couple of sessions! While smaller problems may be resolved within a few short sessions, long-standing concerns can take longer to be properly dealt with. While there isn’t any formal commitment to remaining in counseling, I suggest allowing the process some time to get the greatest benefit out of it.
4) Each Counselor Is a Little Different
This tip can be especially helpful for someone who has had counseling in the past, but did not love the experience. Perhaps you have met with a counselor who, for whatever reason, wasn’t all that helpful to you. The truth is, we are also human beings with individual personalities! While we strive to be non-judgmental and unbiased, our individual character traits may have an impact on our counseling styles. Just know that, even if you had a not-so-great experience with a previous counselor, that doesn’t mean that you will experience the same thing with all of us!
These are just some ideas to keep in mind while you consider making your very first counseling appointment, or while you wait until your first scheduled session. I hope these tips calm your fears about attending counseling!