Coming to individual counselling can be a daunting and emotional experience for any number of reasons. It can feel strange to feel as though you are expected to sit down and tell a complete stranger your innermost thoughts and fears. This may feel very exposing and somewhat embarrassing, but it’s important to remember that you have complete control over what you are and are not wiling to share in your own time. Sitting with you in this challenging time is what Psychologists are trained for, so it may help to remind yourself that we are not going to be shocked or judge you for what you have been experiencing in the lead up to your attendance. A huge misconception surrounding coming to see a psychologist is that by just coming, you are saying that there is something wrong with you, or that you are “broken” in some way. This is not the case! Mental illness and challenges are common and do not mean that you are weak or unworthy. We don’t think this way about physical conditions, so why do we put this unrealistic and critical view on ourselves when we’re talking psychological conditions?
So what happens?
At your first session, the first thing we will talk with you about is confidentiality. Due to the sensitive nature of the work we will be doing together, it is important for us to have complete transparency where confidentiality is concerned. Essentially, what you say is kept strictly confidential, but there are a couple of limits to that. The first is if we assess that you are at a high risk of causing yourself or someone else significant harm because of your mental state. In this case, our main priority is safety, and as such we will work together to find a solution that will keep you safe. This may be speaking to a significant other, or contacting the hospital or other service. This would all take place in consultatio
n with you so there would be no surprises. Besides this, the only other instance whereby confidentiality would be broken without your explicit consent would be if our notes happened to be subpoenaed.
We would then be having a conversation around what has brought you into see a psychologist at this point in time. Essentially, you have the floor! It is going to be a pretty question heavy session, but this is just so we can make sure we have the information we need to understand what it is that you are struggling with and seeking support for. We might ask about your current concerns, what may have changed in your life before or during this time for you, your history and previous concerns. We also want to know what you have done in the past that helps you feel good. Essentially we want to make sure that we know what YOU want to work on and get out of coming into therapy so this session is super important to set the scene for the rest of the treatment.
Following this session, your psychologist will go away and have a think about what treatment would best suit you and come back with a plan of attack to help you move towards your goals.