What to Expect in Your First Mental Health Counseling Session
The importance of mental health — and mental health care — is finally being recognized.
Awareness is spreading around about just how damaging the state of our mind can be, in the short- and long-term, to our mental and physical health, and more. An undiagnosed and untreated mental disorder can have life-threatening consequences, violence that’s enacted by the individual against themselves or others.
Therapy is more widely taken advantage of now than ever before.
New endeavors can be intimidating, something as vulnerable as counseling can be even more so. Going into a situation where you meet with a stranger and divulge your life to them, isn’t something that sits easily with everyone.
Knowing what to expect when meeting with a mental health counselor can significantly ease your mind, heart, as well as reduce any stress or anxiety you’re feeling about the session.
That’s why in this article, we’re going to help prepare you for your counseling appointment by walking you through what to expect in your first mental health counseling session.
What is a mental health counselor?
A mental health counselor works intimately with their clients in order promote lasting, positive change in their lives.
A counselor will help you do things like:
- Recognize unhealthy, self-sabotaging or counterproductive habits in your life
- Address emotional issues (such as low self-esteem or people-pleasing)
- Help you foster healthy skills for coping and communicating
- Teach you ways to practice self- and mental health care
- Help you access and promote more balance and peace in yourself and life
It can be easy to use the terms “counselor” and “therapist” interchangeably, but there are actually several distinctions between the two.
Mental health counselor versus therapist
The necessary educational background for counseling and therapy share some similarities, but the qualifications for each role will vary based on the specialty or field.
Therapists typically focus on diagnosing and treating mental health and behavioral conditions, as well as sometimes prescribing medication. Counselors, on the other hand, typically focus on supporting and guiding you through life challenges (such as job loss or change, the death of a loved one or relationship challenges).
Other differences include:
- Therapists are often past-focused , while counselors are more forward-focused
- Counselors offer more short-term care, while therapists offer more long-term
- Counseling may be a set number of sessions, while therapy can be ongoing
In this article, we’re going to be focusing on mental health counseling.
What to expect in a session
Everybody’s experience with counseling is a little bit different, but there are some standard things the majority of people can expect from their first mental health counseling session.
This first visit is going to be different from any future visits you may have because this initial session is meant for you and the counselor to get to know each other better. This session will help the counselor get a better idea of how to proceed from here as well as learn the best way to structure and approach future sessions.
During your first visit, the counselor is likely to ask you a variety of personal questions in order to get a more well-rounded perspective of you and your life. These questions can range from more casual and able to be answered fairly briefly (such as, “What brought you to counseling today?”) to a little more personal and lengthy (such as questions about your childhood or relationships).
The exact questions asked will depend on the counselor’s personal approach to first-time sessions. Since this visit is more foundational than counseling-focused, you can mostly expect the questions to remain fairly simple.
This first visit is also when the two of you will likely discuss the ideal or imagined length of treatment needed, the different methods to be used, as well personal treatment preferences (such as if you’re open to medication-assisted treatment or are wanting to pursue a more holistic route).
Once you wrap up with any remaining technical details with the front desk, you will have successfully completed your first mental health counseling session.
All you have to do is take that first step.
Mental health counseling near you
If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health or is perhaps dealing with an untreated mental heal condition or disorder, reach out to us.
Pyramid Healthcare is a leading provider in mental health counseling services that specializes in results-driven treatment and client-focused care in order to support you in all stages of your recovery or rehabilitation.
Our mission is to help you reclaim your health, well-being, and happiness, but only you (or your loved one) can make the first step to recovery.
Call us today at 888-694-9996 to begin your journey to healing.
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