Beginning the counseling process can be so intimidating. First, you are admitting there is a problem and you need help; second, you are entering into a place you have never been before; and third, you are about to tell a complete stranger intimate details about yourself. WOW! That is definitely a recipe for intense intimidation; but, let me offer a different version to this scenario.
Yes, you are admitting there is a problem area in your life but good for you! Who doesn't haven't a problem area in their life? No one. I can say that because I know, as everyone else does, NO ONE is perfect; therefore, people have problems. So I see strength and courage when someone calls me to make an appointment because they are being humble and brave enough to ask for help. The second and third point I will lump together and say that there is a sense of relief and freshness that comes along with a new place and a person you've never met before. The place has no attached memory nor does the counselor have any preconceived notion or connection to you or the people in your life. Therefore, you are walking into a safe place where you are not being judged nor rejected, simply heard and supported.
Our culture has tainted our perception of counseling or therapy; which ever word you prefer, it really doesn't matter. Often, people won't make that phone call to set up an appointment because they are afraid of what others might think. Their fear of others' judgments prevents them from taking the first step into potentially bettering their life and/or relationships. So rather than taking the initial step needed, they push aside the thought of seeking help and convince themselves that they can just figure it out on their own. This is where the mistake lies-- they can not do it on their own. Most of us can not muddle through the hard things in life on our own....successfully. We will get trapped into our own minds and skewed perception, making every rationalization needed to justify choices, thoughts and actions made in response to our situation.
Life is not meant to be journeyed through alone. We need others in our lives to help guide and redirect us. Most often, having our own circle of trusted friends and family is suffice; however, there comes a time or two in our lives when we need an outsider's perspective. One who is removed from the situation, one that is unbiased and one that will look at our situation objectively with professionally trained eyes. Not only are you getting a fresh perspective from someone who is neutral but you will be acquiring skills and tools to take with you to help in future situations and relationships. Counseling is for you. You are there to learn about yourself, your problem, your goals and how to attain them. The process is meant to help you heal and change in the identified problem area. For 50 minutes you are being fully being listened to and heard- who doesn't crave that?
So what does an initial session look like, you might wonder? Well, with me, when you come for your first visit you can expect to be greeted and warmly welcomed. This first session is typically introductions, information gathering, clarifying the problem and discussing counseling goals. Getting on the same page and understanding one another is a great way to start off the counseling process. The first session is also a time when you can have your initial questions and concerns addressed and answered. This is when you enter upon your journey of healing and change. What is that saying, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?" My encouragement to you is this- do something different, pick up the phone and make that first step. I look forward to meeting you soon!
Kristin Ferri, LMHC, NCC