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What to Expect in Your First Counselling Session

Hannah Flowers Counselling

So, you think you might be ready to book your first counselling session – but what will it really be like?

There’s a whole range of things you might feel before, during and after the session, and it can help to know a bit more about what to expect.

Before the first session you might feel a bit apprehensive or nervous, and that’s completely normal.  It’s my job as a counsellor to do my best to put you at ease and help you to feel as comfortable as possible.  Or you might not feel nervous at all and that’s ok too.  We are all different!

You might feel a bit unsure of what to expect if you haven’t had a counselling session before.  Reading this post is a great start in finding out more about it, but you can also email or call your counsellor before the session if you have any questions.

Your counsellor will start the first session by explaining what will happen, beginning with clarifying the time agreed for the session (usually 50 minutes).  They will then tell you that everything discussed in the session will be confidential – the only exceptions to this being:

  • If you share information which causes concern about risk of harm to yourself or another person (your counsellor will explain what would happen in this situation);
  • If the counsellor discusses what you have shared with their supervisor (your name and any identifying details will not be shared).

Your counsellor will then ask you to tell them a bit about yourself, usually covering your current situation, what has brought you for counselling, and a little bit about your family and experiences growing up.

You may feel comfortable quite quickly and want to share a lot with your counsellor, or you may find it difficult to get started and feel a bit unsure about how much you want to share.  Both of those are completely normal and it’s fine for you to share as much or as little as you would like.  The first session is an opportunity for you both to get to know each other and for you to decide if you’d like to go ahead and have more sessions.  It’s really important for you to trust your instincts about whether this is the right counsellor for you, and you don’t have to share anything that you don’t feel ready to talk about.  Equally, it’s fine if it all comes tumbling out – this is your space to use the way you want.

At the end of the session, your counsellor will check in with you about how the session has been for you and whether you feel ready to go ahead with more sessions.  There’s no pressure – it’s really important that it feels right for you.

If you want to go ahead, you and your counsellor will agree the time and day of future sessions.  Together you will decide on your goals for the counselling.  These can be reviewed as you go along.

After the session, you might have any of a number of different feelings.  You may feel relieved to have shared what is on your mind, and hopeful because you have taken a step towards improving your life and wellbeing.  You may feel a bit emotional as difficult feelings may have been stirred up.  This can also leave you feeling a bit tired.  You may feel worried that you have said something wrong or spoken too much or too little.  Please be reassured – there is no right or wrong thing to say in a counselling session.

Whatever you are feeling, it’s important to take good care of yourself after the session and to think about what you might need.  If possible, try to arrange to have a bit of time to yourself afterwards.  You may want to go for a walk, or write in a journal, or you may just want to rest.

I hope this post has put your mind at ease about what to expect from your first counselling session.  If you have any more questions, or if you feel ready to book your first session, contact me by email on or by phone on 07305 424417.

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