Since people don’t always know what to expect, making the choice to get counseling can be difficult. But you don’t need to worry, from the moment you arrive at my office, you’ll likely be greeted by the therapy dog, Buddy. His friendly personality puts everybody at ease rather quickly. If he’s sitting on the sofa by the window, please feel free to say hello and give him a scratch behind the ear! Just don’t give him any food . . . he needs to keep his appetite for dinner!
What to expect at your first individual counseling session
I’ll be out shortly to greet you and have you come on back into my office. Most people say that my office feels more like a living room than an office. This is quite intentional since my approach is casual and conversational versus clinical and stuffy. I will start by explaining confidentiality and give you a chance to ask any questions you may have (of course, you can always stop a session and ask anything you like). From there, we’ll discuss what brought you to therapy, or to update me from any conversations we may have had on the phone before you came in.
Sessions will progress quite naturally from there as we will simply have a conversation about what you’d like to accomplish in therapy, things you may have tried and potential obstacles to your success. From there, we will get right to work talking about how to understand thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are causing concern. And, of course, we will start talking about solutions to whatever is bothering you. My collaborative approach means that this is supposed to be a conversation, not me just telling you what to do. In the beginning, most people simply want to tell me their stories. This is very important, and I do not want to skip over it. Take your time and give me as many details as you’d like; I’ll ask questions to gain more insight.
We probably won’t have time to address all facets of what brought you into therapy, but we will have plenty of time as we move forward. Counseling is an unfolding process.
What to expect at your first couples or marital session
I use the Gottman Method of Couples Counseling to help couples find their way back to the love, connection, and joy that brought them together in the first place. During our first session, I will address confidentiality and give you an idea of what types of things we will address in our work together. I will then move into an interview process where I’ll ask each of you some questions designed to help me get to know each of you and your relationship better. These will involve things like how you met, what you like about each other, what annoys each of you about the other, and what brought you into couples counseling, and so on. We will also begin to address any issues that are currently ‘hot topics’ that may lead to conflict. By the end of the first session, I’ll already be building a plan to help you find your way back to one another. Most of the time, this involves working on communication that helps you hear each other and feel understood. Towards the end of the first session, I’ll explain the next couple of sessions and the online assessment that I’ll be emailing each of you.
It is critical that each of you know that I do not take sides. This means I will not align with one person and gang up on the other. I will help both of you feel better understood and to listen more effectively. I will challenge both of you to learn new ways of listening and talking, and new ways to approach conflict.