• Denisa White

What can you expect at your first session with me?

Updated: Jul 25, 2021

The decision making process.

Going to see a counsellor can be so daunting. I know, I have been there myself. We can all feel a little anxious or very anxious actually! At the end of the day we are about to go and meet a complete stranger and share with her (or him) our deepest thoughts and feelings. Of course you don’t know what I will be like. Of course you will have your doubts. Let me reinsure you – this is completely normal and you are not alone to have those thoughts and feelings.

I can completely empathise with you. The process of choosing ‘the right counsellor’ was taking me ages. (And yes, you might be surprised to hear that I have been in therapy too. Even therapists need therapy time to time…) So, this was my process of choosing ‘the right therapist’:

I have chosen three counsellors that lived in my area and that I liked the most and went to see all three. I must say, I didn’t connect with any of them after meeting them face to face (all for different reasons). This can be little discouraging I must say, however I was in a place where I made my mind up about going to therapy. I knew I wanted to try therapy, so I told myself that I must continue searching. I looked further afield and found a counsellor in Reigate, which was about ½ hour car journey for me.

We had our first session and I knew there and then (despite her telling me to go away and have a think) that this is the counsellor I want to work with. The drive there allowed me to think about what I would like to talk about at our session and the drive back allowed me to reflect on our session, to really think further about what we have talked about. (And let me tell you, there were many drives back with tears flowing down my face).

So, what helped my decision making I hear you asking? Nothing out of the ordinary happened really. I think we just clicked. I liked her openness, frankness, no pretence, she was just herself. She asked the right questions and she wasn’t beating round the bush. And that’s what appealed to me.

I wasn’t searching for perfection. I was searching for someone that I felt would get me. Someone who wanted to know more about me, my life now and the one from my past. Someone who was willing to go with me where I needed to go in any particular session. Someone who accepted me for me. And she delivered. I continued my journey with her for two fantastic years and never looked back.

So, what can you expect from me when you come to see me for counselling?

(Your first session with me)

As I am a bereavement counsellor, I would know from your initial enquiry via email or phone that you have experienced some kind of loss. Some enquiries are more detailed than others, so when we meet face to face, I will always ask you what brought you to counselling and why counselling now?

You see, it’s not just what happened to you that is important to know but how long you have been trying to cope with your loss is equally important.

When we loose someone that we loved dearly, there is a great void. All of a sudden, the person who supported us, the person who we leaned on is no longer there. There is this big gap with nothing to fill it with and that takes some time and energy to adjust to. Or you might have had complicated relationship with the person that died and are now left feeling angry, hurt and confused. Not knowing how to move forward and how to deal with your grief.

I don’t have a set of questions that I follow to the tee. I am trying to make a natural conversation with you and depending on what we start to talk about I will ask you questions such as:

  • What support network do you have (if any)

  • I will ask you about your eating habits, sleep routine and work.

  • I will also explore your coping strategies with you. I will ask you what you are finding helpful and what doesn’t help at all.

  • I will ask you about your family (the original family that you were born into – for example number of siblings, birth order and little bit about your parents. I will also ask you about your own family-whether you are married, single, have children)

  • I might ask you about your school years (if you were ever bullied at school, if you had best friend at school, how did you cope with difficulties while at school)

  • I might ask you about your work, work colleagues, stresses at work, etc.

In short, we will take a bird’s eye view of your present and past life.

This session, as every other, is 50 minutes long. So I don’t expect you to tell me all of your life story in one session. That would be impossible. The initial session is dedicated to you. I don’t want you to feel interrogated, quite the opposite. I want you to feel at ease, comfortable and not anxious, overwhelmed and worried.

It can be so hard talking about loss. I might be the first person who you share your deepest and most difficult thoughts and feelings with. And if that’s you I want to say thank you. Thank you for having the courage to do that. Because to say out loud that you are struggling is never easy. That short sentence requires strength. Enormous strength actually. Believe me when I say I know.

Towards the end of your initial session I will talk to you about confidentiality, about times where I might have to break confidentiality (this hasn’t happened yet – And please let me reinsure you that if I have to break confidentiality, I will ask for your consent first). I will talk to you about data storage and I will talk to you about my way of working with clients.

Before we part, I will tell you to go away and have a think about the session. To have a think about whether you felt that I am the right counsellor for you. I will not pressure you into booking your next session with me. I know far too well that sometimes we need little time to think, time to reflect because this is not the time to make rushed decisions. You will be potentially entering working relationship with me and you need to feel safe. You need to feel comfortable and you need to trust me. You also need to trust yourself and trust the process.

I hope that this blog helped you in your decision making. I hope it eased your anxieties and that you feel more comfortable in contacting a counsellor. You might not choose to work with me and that’s ok. You have the right to choose. You have to be certain in your decision making. And I will respect that.

If there is still something on your mind and I haven’t covered it here please do not hesitate to contact me. I’ll be more that happy to answer any of your questions.

My phone number is: 07 429 255 636


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