What a humongous, massive step booking a first therapy appointment is for the majority of people. It’s like putting your hand in the air and saying “I can’t do this on my own”. Sooooo many people view this as a sign of weakness in themselves. So many think that they “should” be able to just “get over it”. What a crock of rubbish. That’s like saying “hmmmmm, I have high blood pressure. Surely I can make it go away by myself”. Or “oh darn, I’ve broken my leg. Maybe if I smile REALLY hard, it’ll fix itself”. You wouldn’t believe that so why do we view mental health so differently?
So really – well done on asking for help. Whether you’ve had this issue for weeks, months or years – well done. Whether you’ve seen your GP, tried other therapies, take medication – well done.
It’s bloody brave to ask for help and you should receive nothing but praise. Unfortunately, there’s still a warped view that mental health isn’t a “real” thing, and lots of people don’t believe it until they’ve experienced it themselves – which scarily will happen to at least half of us in one form or another (& I’d definitely bet it happens to more!). It’s totally a real thing and I’m super proud to be around to help. If you’ve made your appointment then breathe. I’m here and you have my TOTAL support.
What can you expect from your first therapy session?
If you spoke to me on the phone you might well have quickly realised I’m not a stuffy, blouse wearing, head nodding kind of therapist. Nor am I a flowing skirt, dreadlock sporting, hippy kind of therapist. I’m a totally normal woman. I’ll be in my jeans, totally ready to listen to you. But please don’t think I just listen. If that’s what you need, then cool. But I will absolutely challenge you, call you out on the stories you’re telling yourself and help you to shift your perspective. I’ll teach you a heap of science and I’ll show you practical ways to help you help yourself to move forward.
You will leave our first session already feeling better (or I’m not doing my job right!) You’ll have clear goals and clear actions to implement to help you reach them.
I wanted to put together a few pictures of me to show you how totally normal I am. But then I started actually looking for pictures, and worryingly – this is the best I could come up with. I’m not sure it’ll convince you!! But please take this in the light-hearted way I mean it. Rest assured I’m totally qualified and absolutely love my job with a passion. You’re in safe hands!
What do you need to do before our appointment?
Well, nothing if you don’t want. I’ve heard so many clients say that they worried for days about our session, to find within a minute of sitting down that they had NO idea what they were worried about. Ideally, before the appointment, you would fill in the form that I email you when we confirm the appointment, you’ll show up bang on time and you’ll be able to answer my first question which is almost always; “so in a nutshell, tell me what brought you here today and why?”
Ah, the first session! It always feels to me like all “rules” go out of the window. Anything I’d vaguely planned if we had a phone call before, goes to pot, as so frequently that session goes in a completely different direction to that which either of us expected and you end up dealing with a problem that was masked under the original reason you wanted to see me. For example, I’ve just received a testimonial from a lovely client, who came to see me for weight loss. The testimonial literally said, “we didn’t ever seem to talk about my weight exactly….” In the first few minutes of that first session is was super clear to me that the weight was a symptom of the real issues, which we dealt with and the weight is now dropping off.
It’s normal to feel that you have absolutely no idea what you’re going to say when I ask you questions, or that you don’t even really know what you want to talk about. In my thousands of hours of working with clients, I’ve never, ever had anyone who didn’t know what to say when the time comes. It’s just nerves making you think that – and you won’t be nervous once you’ve met me, so don’t worry.
It’s normal if you sob, and it’s normal if you don’t. I’ve cried in first sessions with my clients on occasion. It’s totally fine – I have tissues!! And I can send you to the mirror before you leave.
It’s normal to feel like you’ve “just had a chat” after the first session. A chat where you don’t know why, but you feel better. If I’m doing my job right that’s EXACTLY how I want you to feel. I don’t want you to recognise the language I use or the reframing techniques or the shifting of your focus. I’m like a stealthy ninja, without the cool outfit. I want you to go away feeling like you’ve just had a chat. Rest assured – I’ve definitely done some work in there!!
What’s not normal?
I genuinely couldn’t think of anything to write here. I’ve been in private therapy for about four years now and I already feel like there’s not much I haven’t seen or heard. I’m impossible to shock and I’m totally non-judgemental.
When should you see me again?
That’s totally your call! Usually, if after your first session you do decide to work with me – and hey, it’s absolutely no problem if you don’t – most people want their next appointment within a couple of weeks. This can sometimes be tricky as my diary is often bonkers but I’ll try and get it as close to when you’d like as I can. I usually advise clients if they know they definitely want to work with me that they book a few appointments in advance. You can cancel them with 48 hours notice, but I’d rather you have them in than not be able to get one. After we’ve seen each other a few times and you’re doing well, we can usually start to stretch out the time between appointments. I even have some clients that come for a check in or coaching session once every 3 or 6 months and I’ve got one gentleman who has an appointment every May! He actually books it a year in advance and brings me a Starbucks when he arrives. Lucky me!
If you don’t feel we’re the right fit, that’s honestly fine. I rarely, but sometimes, have clients come for a first session and it’s clear that we don’t fit each other well. Genuinely, I only want to work with people I can help so it’s better that we decide as early as possible. I won’t be offended, I promise!
I really hope this eases your concerns a little. I’d love you to drop me a comment if you’ve worked with me & let me know how you felt it went!