Your first counselling session

Your first counselling session can be crazy scary, and it’s natural to have all kinds of concerns and doubts. We asked young people at The Mix about their first experiences of a talking treatment to help you through it.

A young person works at her laptop

Do I really need to go to counselling?

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 weird and uncomfortable.

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.

“Trying new things can be difficult, but it’s well worth it in the long-run. I won’t lie, counselling isn’t for everyone, but there are lots of young people who stick with it and are very satisfied when they come out the other side. If you’re like me, and you worry about talking to someone face to face, maybe think about online counselling to start with? There are always options, you just have to persevere and be willing to try.” Rachel

“You should be proud you’ve admitted you have a problem and have been smart enough to deal with it. Counselling isn’t always easy – you’ll feel emotionally drained and it will be difficult at times. In the end, you’ll feel a lot more stable and on the right road.” Natalie

What will my first counselling 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 the answers 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.

“They asked me things about my life and growing up etc. This gives them a chance to get to know you so they can give you the support you need. They also asked me what I wanted to get out of counselling. It can be scary, and you might worry you’re saying the wrong thing. But the counsellor will understand and won’t put you under pressure. They won’t rush you.” Claire

“They should outline their confidentiality and privacy arrangements, how you’ll be matched to a counsellor, how long you’ll have to wait, costs, and what to expect from them, e.g. a weekly hour-long session. It’s a chance for you to gauge how you feel about them. There’s no pressure to commit to counselling if it doesn’t feel right.” Mavis

Learn more about what to expect from counselling.

How does counselling work?

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. If you decide that you’d prefer to change from telephone to web chat or vice versa, this can be done. All our counsellors are trained to facilitate both types of counselling.

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.

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 a different counsellor.

“If you don’t feel comfortable when you first meet them then you should contact someone else. If you’ve had several sessions, raise your discomfort with your counsellor as this may need to be addressed. If you continue to feel unhappy you may need to consider seeking a different person.” Sophie

“You won’t be made to stick to sessions if it’s not working for you. You may be encouraged to persevere, but ultimately it’s your decision. It’s important to try to go to each session with an open mind, regardless of any previous sessions.” Rachel

Learn more about counselling in The Mix’s FAQs

How do I sign up for counselling at The Mix?

The Mix offers up to eight sessions of free, over-the-phone or online counselling to any young person living in the UK who is aged 25 and under. The sign-up process is quick and simple. All you need to do is fill in a form telling us a bit about yourself and what kind of support you need. Once you’ve filled it out, you’ll get an email confirming your booking.

A few days before your session, your counsellor will get in touch to send you over the counselling contract and a small bio about themselves. If you don’t get an email within the hour of booking, you can email [email protected], just in case there was an error and we need to rebook.

You can sign up for free counselling with The Mix here.

I feel pathetic – shouldn’t I be able to sort myself out?

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it takes a lot of strength. If you’ve admitted you have a problem and need support you should feel proud of yourself – it’s a difficult step to take. Everyone needs help from time to time.Mavis

If having a future means spending some time in counselling, it’s worth it. If you think ‘but I have nothing to offer‘ or ‘what’s the point?’ you’re not alone, I thought that too. But you’d be amazed at what you have to offer the world.Rachel

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.

By Holly Turner

Updated on 06-Jan-2021