Welcome and congratulations on deciding to start your therapeutic journey. Deciding to begin therapy is a big decision that usually results from feeling “stuck,” feeling like you need help processing something in your life, or feeling like you generally need unbiased, professional support. If you allow yourself to look inward and reflect, you may notice a sense of peace once you have made the decision to schedule your first therapy session. You may also feel overwhelmed at beginning the process; after all, it is a new journey filled with lots of unknowns. Here are five steps to help you feel empowered as you begin your therapeutic journey toward wellness.
Think about what you hope will be better after counseling.
It’s generally a good idea to think about what you’d like to see improve and to set a few goals for counseling. Do you hope to learn to set boundaries? Do you wish to work through a stressful event from your past? Do you want to cultivate coping skills to deal with anxiety at work? It’s helpful to ponder these goals before meeting with your counselor for the first time so you can communicate these goals. Your counselor may work with you to establish goals or gently adjust the one(s) you’ve set for yourself. If you struggle to establish a goal, go to counseling anyway! Your counselor will happily assist you with this process.
Explore your options.
If you have a goal or two in mind, try to do some research to locate a counselor in your area that specializes in your area of concern (e.g., anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, etc.). It’s usually easy to find an online “bio” of a counselor, which allows you to learn a little about them, as well as determine whether or not you seem to resonate with their style or approach. Some counselors will offer a free consultation prior to your first appointment. You can call ahead to ask about things like parking and insurance reimbursement in an effort to make your first experience as seamless as possible.
Familiarize yourself with your health insurance benefits.
If you have health insurance, it can be a good idea to call the behavioral health telephone line (usually on the back of your insurance card) to determine the extent of your benefits. What is your deductible and what’s your copay? Will you need a referral to see the counselor? What is considered in-network and what’s considered out-of-network? How many sessions will your insurance company reimburse? What does the counselor/practice charge per session? All these are important questions to consider so that you can make an informed decision.
Think about what questions you have for your counselor.
Grab a pen and paper and jot down the things you’d like answered before your first session. You can ask things like: how long are sessions typically? How much do you charge per session? What theoretical approach do you use in session? How frequently will we meet?
Be sure to get the answers you need prior to beginning counseling, or at least during the first session.
Get ready to work.
Going through counseling can be challenging work. The more work you’re willing to put into counseling, the more you will benefit from the process. Give yourself grace on the days you don’t feel like showing up or doing the work, but try to push through and show up anyway. Those are often the best sessions. Be honest with your counselor about how you are feeling throughout the process. If you really wanted to cancel your session but didn’t, talk about that! It’s normal to want to avoid talking about challenging things. Ultimately, be proud of yourself for being brave enough to schedule that first session and walk through that door the first time (and every time beyond that, for that matter!). Put a little work in beforehand, so that you may enter the therapeutic journey confident and informed.
Give us a call to get started today at 828-322-9130.