What do I talk about in the first session?
When we first meet, my goal is to provide a place where you feel safe, and we lay the groundwork for building trust through getting to know each other. You might feel nervous. Some of you might feel elated since you are finally taking steps on a long standing problem. Some of you might be coming because someone else suggested to at least "check it out." You don't have to share your deepest darkest secrets.
The first session entails me informing you about who I am and what services I offer and going over mandatory information the state requires a counselor share with you. I'll be asking questions to clarify what your goal for counseling is. Depending on your pay source and reason for coming, I may or may not need to ask questions to establish a diagnosis. For example, if you are private pay and coming for life coaching issues, a mental health diagnosis may not be necessary. In some cases a diagnosis is required, as it guides the counseling process and insurance billing. While we're talking I want you to be assessing me so you know if this is a good working relationship, do you think you can trust me? Is my style a good match for you? I will be checking to see if the issues you have fit my expertise. Expect the first session to be one to two hours. Following sessions are usually 50-60 minutes usually once a week to every other week. We'll figure out the frequency based on your needs and schedule.
IF you are coming for a diagnostic assessment, there will be questions about your past and present symptoms, previous diagnosis if any, current medication if any, if anyone else in the family has a diagnosis, and how symptoms are affecting your overall functioning. There may be additional questions depending on the type of assessment we are completing and other factors.
I use a lot of metaphors, similes, and analogies. I listen for a few sessions focusing on understanding how you think about the world. I listen for your values and beliefs and don’t impose my values or beliefs on you. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I approach my job more like a guide, I hold the lamp when it’s dark to show the stumbling blocks. I compare my role as a counselor to Mary Poppins. She blew in on the wind to where she was needed, she got the job done with fun and efficiency, and she left when the time was right. That is what I will attempt to do, meet you where your needs are, work with you in a safe and efficient manner, and complete our counseling relationship when you are ready.
For those that like a professional description of the tools I use, I primarily use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Motivational Interviewing. I’m highly influenced by my experience with the Psychosocial Rehabilitation model which focused on strengths and recovery along with goal setting and skills training. I’ve always been what the mental health field calls "person centered." Besides the eclectic counseling skills I’ve accumulated over my career, I’ve also been trained in Healing Touch, an energy work modality that is effective for many issues, especially anxiety. I can describe my methodology more in depth at our first appointment.