What to expect from counselling: a guide

If you've decided to sign up for counselling, that's amazing. You've taken the first step towards seeking support and that's a really brave thing to do. You might have a few questions about the process and wonder what to expect, so here's a guide to starting out.

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It’s normal to feel nervous

If you’re thinking about signing up for counselling, it’s really normal to feel a bit anxious about it. After all, opening up is a big step and if you’ve never spoken to a counsellor before, the idea might seem totally weird and uncomfortable.

Of course, counselling can be challenging, but once you’ve got used to it, it won’t seem so scary. Speaking to a counsellor can help you to work out lots of issues and give you the tools to understand yourself better.

What is counselling?

Counselling is designed to help you speak about your thoughts and feelings and give you a safe space to work through any problems that you might be facing in your life.

Some counselling is face to face, but here at The Mix we offer counselling sessions over the phone or over web chat. You can choose whichever set up you feel most comfortable with.

How long will counselling last?

Most counselling sessions take place once per week and last for 50 minutes. At The Mix, you can have up to eight sessions with your counsellor.

What will my first session be like?

Most counsellors will begin by introducing themselves, establishing some boundaries for the sessions and telling you a little bit about the way that they work. Then, they may ask you to talk about why you’re there and what you’d like to work on with them.

You don’t have to know why straight away and it’s ok if you’re not sure yet – your counsellor will help you work that out.

You should feel free to ask your counsellor anything you want to know about how things will work in each session and what is expected of you.

What will I talk about with my counsellor?

Your counsellor isn’t there to tell you what to talk about, but they will help you to work out what it is that you’d like to focus on. It doesn’t matter if it takes a while to get there.

You might find that things about your childhood come up in conversation, or your relationships with friends and family. You might discuss your thoughts and emotions, your behaviour and things that you find difficult.

If you have a specific issue you want to talk about, like anxiety, bereavement or addiction; your counsellor can help you to deal with this.

Silence is ok too

Sometimes you won’t be able to think of anything to say – that’s ok and there’s no need to feel awkward. Take your time and eventually the conversation will flow naturally again.

How should I make the most out of my sessions?

Counselling can be hard sometimes because you’re talking through issues you find difficult and this can bring up lots of emotions. Remember to be kind to yourself and know that it’s ok if you struggle – the process takes time and it’s normal to find it challenging.

Try writing down the things that come up during each section. It will help you to remember what you have learned and reflect on issues that have been brought up.

It’s important to remember that not every session will feel as helpful as others, but that’s ok. Your counsellor is trained to help you reach the goals that you set together and will guide you in the right direction.

Will anyone else know what we talk about?

Everything you say to your counsellor will be completely confidential, unless they are concerned for your life or the life of someone you know, so you can feel free to tell them anything you like.

What if I don’t like my counsellor?

Sometimes your counsellor might not feel like the best fit for you, or you may not feel comfortable talking to them for whatever reason. If this is the case, it’s fine to request or search for a different counsellor.

If you’d like to sign up for free counselling with The Mix, you can find out more here.

Next Steps

  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 16-Oct-2019

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