“Hey. Im here. You know I’m all about first impressions WELL this is what I walked into. No receptionist, dirty floor, leaves everywhere. I asked a lady sitting here will the receptionist be back? She said he doesn’t have one. He’ll come out and call you. I’m detested just walking in to the condition of the place. The sidewalk was cleaner.” This message made me laugh but it also made me think about my first time visiting a psychologist. I was already terrified because I did not know what to expect and I didn’t want anyone to see me going there (I was still in a denial phase). Similar to my friend that relayed this message, I was observant of every little thing and was hoping to find something that would “justify” me saying….”Nope, I can’t deal with this. The wall is painted blue. Im outta here”.
We look for ways to stay within our comfort zone and not face our fears. The fear of talking to a stranger. The fear of receiving a diagnosis. The fear of the type treatment that I needed.
When I look back on my first encounter with a counselor, I wish I had someone to tell me the following things
- Counselors are not there to judge you. They are there to help you
- Counselors will not make you talk, however it would be beneficial to talk and be truthful (Counselors can’t read minds)
- Counselors will ask questions about your background, including things like your family history, substance use, and other factors that may contribute to your mental health (You will be surprised at how something that you may consider small can affect you)
- Therapy is confidential. There are laws that govern information that a therapist can disclose from a session (with some exclusions that are explained to you before you start)
- Yes, You and a particular counselor may not mesh. That is okay. Sometimes it takes time to find someone that you are comfortable and confident in. Keep an open mind.
Knowing these things will not eliminate all of your reservations about seeing counselor for the first time but it may help with making that first step to addressing your mental health needs.
Side note: During the break, I found out that I passed my licensure exam to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Just waiting on graduation in May. I will make sure that my office is free of leaves, the floor is clean, and has a receptionist to help with the first impression LOL