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What to expect when you come in to see a counselor-Yes that's me!

There can be a stigma to say, “Yes, I’m seeing a therapist.” Because of this stigma and what people assume when you indicate that you are seeking professional help, sometimes people don’t know what to expect when they come in to see a counselor. Here are some basics of seeing a therapist for the first time.

First off, by the time a client comes in to first meet with a counselor, the counselor usually knows a tad bit about what is bringing that person in. Typically, counselors like to talk with you for a few minutes before they schedule to get a better understanding of your needs. We are here for you, so we like to make sure what you are seeking is what we can actually provide. For example, if you are seeking marriage counseling, and the therapist you are calling does not provide that service, the therapist will talk with you and make sure you get the referral you need.

When I meet with a client for the first time, I try to make this process as easy peasy as possible. Counselors completely understand that you are coming in to talk to a stranger, possibly about things that no one else knows about. I like to let clients know that I am here to discuss whatever you wish to discuss. I am not here to judge, be critical, or tell you what to do. I am here to listen and offer a safe space where you can discuss what is on your mind and what is bringing you here. I am then here to challenge you to think about what is within your best interest and focus on what is healthiest for you.

My office is a cozy little spot with candles, spa-like music, and calm lighting. I want this to be a place where you can come in, take a breather, relax, and focus on yourself and your needs. I am here to actively listen, provide feedback, and guide you through this journey. Even though coming to see a therapist can sound scary, it doesn’t have to be. What you are going through might seem extreme and as if no one else is going through this, but I can pretty much guarantee that someone is going through something else very similar. Please know that when you come in to talk to a counselor about “the stuff I haven’t told anyone and please don’t think I’m crazy,” we have probably heard a similar situation before. Not much shocks us. We aren’t here to judge your story, your thoughts, or your feelings. We are here to listen to them, validate them, and discuss a healthy path of continuing forward.

I have seen a therapist myself. I was scared the first couple of times I saw her. She noticed it as well. I had never gone in to talk to a stranger about the things that I was about to share with her. The therapist asked me what I was nervous about. I think I was just nervous about being vulnerable and about having someone hear my story in a way that I hadn’t told it before. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear someone say, "I would feel the exact same way if I went through that too. The way you think and feel about that is normal and expected.” This was the process to healing and growth. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of my therapist.

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Photo taken by Monica Coulter in McKinney, Texas, 2016.

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