Whether it’s your first time going to counseling or have been before, starting with a new therapist can be nerve-wracking. Below are a few tips from one of our therapists for how to prepare for your first Christian counseling session!
‘Will I like my therapist?’
‘Will they like me?’
‘Can they help me reach my goals?’
‘Can I afford this?’
‘Was Darth Vader really his father?’
These are some of the questions that often go through client’s minds.
If you’re feeling nervous, here are 5 things to help you prepare for that first Christian counseling session:
1. Be yourself
It can be tempting to put on a “better self mask” during your first session. But session after session, this becomes exhausting to keep up. Why not let your counselor see who you are from the get-go? Your counselor is excited to know you, so take advantage of this unique relationship. Remember, your counselor is there to help you!
Here are some things you could share about yourself:
- Challenges you are currently facing that you’d like to explore in future sessions
- Changes in your life that prompted seeking counseling
- Things you have tried to get through this
- Information about your background, friends, family, worldview
2. Know what your goals are
Before your first session, set aside 10 minutes to write out what you are wanting to achieve in counseling. Remember, the clearer you are with your goals, the more helpful your counselor becomes in helping you achieve them!
For couples attending counseling together: It’s okay for you both to have different goals. Or even for one of you to have goals, while the other does not. Do your best to prepare your goals and be patient with your partner in theirs.
3. Clear your schedule
Ask yourself how often you would like to see your counselor (or maybe ask them how often they would like to see you) and then anticipate some times that could work in the future
Also, you may feel a little drained afterward, so clear a little recovery time after your session if you can. Take time to take care of yourself.
4. Ask questions
It’s good to be informed about your counselor’s practice, approach, beliefs, and personality. Get to know them as they get to know you. Here are some typical questions you can ask your therapist:
- What is your approach to helping people?
- Do you have experience helping people with the concerns I have?
- What is your belief system/worldview?
- Do you create a treatment plan, and if so, will I be a part of creating this with you?
- What will our sessions look like?
5. Give yourself some credit
So often, people have been through a journey just to get to this first session. For some, it takes them years of contemplating counseling before starting. No matter how long it has taken you, you are here. So give yourself a pat on the back for getting this far. Meeting with a therapist takes great courage.
Take in the words of Brene Brown: “Most people believe vulnerability is weakness. But really, vulnerability is courage. We must ask ourselves…are we willing to show up and be seen?”
What your first Christian counseling session will be like:
Your first session will likely look different than any other session. In this session, you will likely talk practicals, such as billing, scheduling, etc. Your therapist will also likely share a little about themselves. Then it’s your turn to share, as much as you feel comfortable and are able within the timeframe.
Tackling all that can be a lot for one session! Keep this in mind as both you and the therapist get to know each other.
What if it’s not a good fit?
Remember, it’s okay to switch counselors if it’s clear you’re not on the same page. How can you tell? Here are some signs that your therapist might not be the right fit:
- You are feeling disconnected from the therapist
- The therapist does not have expertise in the area you are asking for help
- Both you and the therapist have different worldviews and values
- You are not making progress (Remember that progress can take time!)
- Sessions often end with you feeling confused or discouraged
Not your first time? It may be helpful for both you and the therapist to review a few things from your last counseling experience. Here are some areas to think about and be ready to share with your new therapist:
- What worked for me in my last counseling experience?
- What did not work for me in my last counseling experience?
- What has changed since my last counseling experience?
Remember that your counselor is here to help you. We at Cornerstone are passionate about seeing our clients reach their goals and are so excited you decided to join us! If you have more questions, reach out to us and we can help you best prepare for your first Christian counseling session!
Author: Patrick herzer
Patrick is one of our talented Christian counselors who love to come alongside couples to create healthy, long-lasting marriages full of life and happiness.
If you’re interested in counseling with Patrick or another one of our other amazing counselors, click here to view our line-up.