GAAAAHH!! Terrifying isn’t it. First session – what is he going to ask me? What if I cry and look stupid? What if I sob uncontrollably and snot comes out and it just all goes downhill from there?
Fear not. I am trained to deal with all (most) eventualities. Not so much snot, but what we call in the business “high affect”, certainly.
What is the first session? Well in some ways it’s just as scary for the therapist as it is for you. We don’t know what you’re going to say(!). Do you want us to have an answer right there and then?? What if you think we’re not good enough or don’t look the part?
I guess we’ll just both have to accept it. It’s okay to be afraid. What isn’t okay is fleeing from fear any longer.
Obviously, I’ve given more first therapy appointments than I have received, but I have still received a small handful (around about 5).
I suppose I do have an advantage really. I know what to expect. I at least have a semblance of a clue of how they’re supposed to go. Maybe this is your first time? Well, my first two episodes of therapy were when I was a wee nipper and the thought of actually becoming a therapist was so far down my list (rock star was first), to think I’d now be writing this blog post would have made me fall over backward with shock.
My First Time…
So, what are they like? I remember my first lady. A sweet counsellor. She was warm and professional. She welcomed me into her office with a surprisingly firm handshake. Offered me some water and pointed to the couch that I was now expected to sit on before spilling my guts.
This came surprisingly easily to me. I’ve always struggled to fill silences and a whole hour with nothing to say accept how I have been feeling, in truth, felt a little like overkill at the time.
But she was ready for this. “Awkward teenager?”, she must have thought. “I know just the ticket!”.
She was warm. Comforting. Soothing and patient. She let the silences happen. Used her body language and facial expressions to guide me. To tell me when I needed to say more, when I’d come off topic, and when I had actually said enough. Because she was a professional.
The hour flew by. As did the many hours to come after that. I had about 10 sessions with her in total. I honestly remember none of them being awkward. Or scary. Or weird. They were just – fine. A definite sense of relief after each one. A gradual shift towards clarity.
What can I offer you?
What can I say? I stand on the shoulders of giants. I am doing as I have been shown by the countless people in my industry before me. We actually have training on giving empathy, and being warm, and reducing “affect”, as I mentioned earlier (the bit about the snot). But most importantly, we are there because we want to help you. You are not a burden to us. We will not judge you for your difficulties.
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