Monday, June 9, 2014

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Seeking Counseling for the First Time

Counseling The decision to seek counseling is rarely an easy one to make. We often feel like we should be able to solve problems ourselves rather than seeking professional help, and the idea of sharing our personal concerns with a stranger may seem scary. Our expectations of counseling are often shaped by what we see on TV, little of which inspires confidence.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do that will make your first counseling session easier, and they start with having an accurate idea of what to expect.

The first meeting with a mental health professional usually begins by having you complete some paperwork similar to what you are used to when you visit a physician. This is almost always followed by an interview designed to gather information about you, your history, and why you are seeking help at this time.

Depending on the agency, the person interviewing you may or may not be your counselor; however, he or she will share the information collected with the person who does end up working with you. Agencies do this to make sure that they can provide the services you need and, if so, to help match you with a counselor who has expertise in these areas.

Dr. John Grohol (World of Psychology) offers three tips that are helpful to remember during this interview:
  1. Be honest. It is in your best interest to provide accurate information so the professional can determine how best to help you.
  2. Don't jump to conclusions, but trust your gut. Pay attention to your first impressions, but give the interviewer a chance. Remember, this person may not end up being your counselor, so it will be important to get to know your counselor.
  3. Be nervous, it's okay. Almost everybody will be nervous when seeking counseling for the first time.
We would add an additional tip: ask questions. Most mental health professionals will invite you to ask questions, but even if they do not, you should feel free to do so. It is important that you understand the agency's policies and procedures and that you have the opportunity to clarify any sources of confusion.

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