Much like visiting a new place, taking a plane ride for the first time, or the first time speaking in front of a crowd, for many, seeking counseling for the first time can provoke questions or cause uncertainty. If you have never personally sought counseling from a professional counselor before, you may be wondering
- What is the process like?
- How do I schedule an appointment?
- What happens during sessions?
- Will I like my therapist?
- Will counseling work for me?
Scheduling An Appointment
We at Marriage & Family Counseling Center (MFCC) want you to know as much as you can about the counseling process, be confident in the skill level of the counselors, and have as many of your questions answered before you even set foot in our office. When new clients call our office, we ask them a few questions to get the appointment process started and match you with the best possible counselor for your needs. Some of the questions you might be asked over the phone or through email include:
“How did you hear about us?”
“Have you seen a counselor previously? Was your experience good? Bad?”
“Can you give us a brief synopsis of why you are calling us today?”
After an appointment is scheduled, we will email you some forms to fill out and bring with you to your first appointment. These forms include the standard contact information, HIPAA and confidentiality disclosures. The information on these forms helps our counselors with basic information about you, freeing up more time in your first session to discuss why you are seeking counseling. We will go over the forms, make sure we understand everything you’ve disclosed, and ask if you have any questions about any of the forms.
Your first session
Perhaps when you think of counseling your mind conjures up names like Freud, and you envision laying on a couch being over-analyzed and forced to answer questions that seem unrelated to the issues that prompted you to seek counseling. If so, rest assured! At MFCC (and honestly, most any counseling center nowadays), this is not what counseling looks like! Though certainly Freud has attributed many a good thing to the world of psychology and counseling, you won’t be asked to lay on a couch, and the session will involve a lot more client driven discussion, in conversation style, not just simply answering seemingly odd and bizarre questions. (Though if you prefer laying on a couch, or you want to kick your feet up on the coffee table, we don’t mind!)
During your first session, you will be asked questions about you, your specific situation that prompted you to seek counseling, and other questions that allow your counselor to get to know as much information about you as possible. As mentioned in our first post in this series, ‘we believe that counseling is a confidential and safe relationship with a professional.’ Part of establishing this professional relationship is spending a little time in the first couple of sessions getting to know each other. We invite you to ask questions about our therapy styles, how we help you get to where you’d like to be, and any other questions about our clinic or our practices that you may be wondering. Our counselors in turn want to know about you. What you are looking for in counseling, have you had good, bad or no experience in counseling previously, what you hope to have accomplished in your sessions, and what you think and feel about the topics you will be discussing.
What can I expect from counseling?
You can expect to call the shots. Seriously! You determine what we talk about, how often you schedule sessions, and what you feel the most pertinent issues are to address in sessions. Our clinic (usually) provides short-term therapy, meaning we know that most people are not looking to attend weekly counseling sessions for years, and we believe that focusing on helping you find solutions sooner than later is best practice. Usually most issues are able to be effectively addressed in 4-12 sessions. However, we do offer longer-term weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly sessions for those wanting support on a recurring basis. We also serve clients who are only looking for 1-2 sessions, and clients who schedule occasional appointments as the need arises. We have no preset number of sessions you must attend, you get to determine what that number is.
You can expect a safe, confidential space to discuss your concerns, issues or problems without judgement or condemnation. Read more about confidentiality and the safe, judgment free zone that MFCC provides HERE.
You can expect our conversation-style approach to be easy-going and comfortable, yet directed and productive. We ask questions and work specifically on why you came to counseling and though other questions may be asked, we work with you to direct conversation towards your goals.
You can expect sessions to feel somewhat ‘exploratory,’ meaning week to week you may find you are discovering new things about yourself that perhaps you didn’t realize previously. Sometimes these are subtle thoughts that may have crept in and taken root. Or maybe it is a sudden realization, understanding, or even naming an emotion or feeling that you weren’t aware of before.
You can expect to be challenged. When we seek out counseling it is most often because things aren’t going as well as we’d expect or hope. We are here to help you find the change you desire. Sometimes that means we encourage you to ‘think outside the box,’ sometimes we may challenge how you’re thinking about a certain issue, or sometimes we may ask what alternative routes and changes you can make to improve your situation. And for those seeking counseling who are doing well, our counselors will encourage and offer challenges that help promote continued growth and enrichment, fostering the already established individual or relationship stronghold you have.
You can expect that you will not be forced to think, feel or do anything that you are not wanting to. We are here to help you work through things, not force you to adopt a particular way of thinking or doing, or even to feel a certain way about your concerns.
You can expect that the growth and understanding you find while in counseling sessions will follow you long after you are attending regular counseling sessions. We want to help you find the words, actions and thoughts that will help you be successful in changing your thinking, adapting to similar situations down the road, and utilize the skills and techniques learned in therapy to help you continue a path of personal enrichment for years to come.
And finally, at MFCC you can expect on-going, consistent support from your counselor. We recognize that time and finances may not offer many clients the ability to schedule as often as they’d like. Once you are client at MFCC, we are here to support you, regardless of how many sessions you do or don’t schedule. If you need a resource, a referral for medication, or simply want to have someone to touch base with as needed, we are here to support you in every way possible.