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Tips for the initial call with a counsellor or therapist

So, you found some counsellors or therapists you like the look of (take a look at this blog if you haven’t started the search yet, or this blog if you are hesitating). You have an initial chat lined up.

Now what?

Here are some tips.

#1 Look after yourself

Make sure you are somewhere quiet where you can’t be overheard.

It’s ok to take your time.

Usually, you will be asked what brings you to counselling or therapy. This question is can be helpful for the counsellor or therapist to work out whether they have the experience and training for what you are looking for. So it is important to give an outline.

This is an important area in most codes of Professional Conduct (such as with the  BACP and UKCP). It is about safety – we should only work with clients within the boundaries of our competence.

But in the initial call you only need to reveal what you are comfortable sharing. Details can wait until you have started and you have agreed how it works in terms of confidentiality.

#2 You don’t need to understand all the jargon

There are hundreds of different types of therapy out there and each one has a wealth of words / phrases that would not typically be heard in daily conversation.

Don’t let jargon put you off. Personally, I try to avoid it. If you aren’t sure what you’re being told, you can ask.

#3 Check in with yourself: How do you feel?

The research shows that your relationship with the counsellor / therapist is more important than the type of therapy in terms of success of the therapy.

So it’s worth taking the time to make sure you find someone you’re comfortable talking to.

On the initial call, some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you feel heard and understood?
  • How do you feel talking to them?
  • Do they use language that appeals to you?
  • Is this someone you might feel comfortable talking to about what’s going on for you?

You should never feel pressured to book a session.

Going with your gut is important. If it’s not a good fit, then that’s ok!

#4 Think about your questions before the initial call

Typically at some point you will be asked if you have any questions.

You might want to think about these in advance; for example:

  • How much are sessions?
  • Do sessions have to be weekly?
  • Do they have availability for when you want sessions? They may offer a wait list, but you don’t need to compromise your mental health if you would rather speak to someone quicker than they can offer.
  • If the sessions are held in a residential property (and many are), do you have any allergies / anxieties or phobias that you might want to raise now?
  • If your work are paying, check whether it’s ok to invoice (or perhaps they can invoice your employer directly).
  • Is there anything that would make a first visit easier? For example, a picture of the front door, details about parking, whether there is a toilet.

#5 You don’t have to go with the first one

Finding the right counsellor or therapist for you is a process and can take a little time. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel a good connection with the first person you try. You have options!

If you are not sure where to look, I wrote a blog post about this. You could also search directories who check credentials such as Counselling DirectoryPsychology Today and the Black and Asian Therapists Network. These often include more search categories if you are looking for something specific; for example, a therapist who is LGBTQ+ affirmative.

You get to decide what’s best for you.

Image of Carina Badger with three blocks of text. The first block says find clarity and calm. The second block says cope better with change. The third block says say no when you want to. This is for Carina Badger, counsellor and therapist in Urmston, Manchester and online

I help people find clarity and calm, cope better with change and say no when they want to. Through therapy, I can help you get to know yourself better and support you in making meaningful changes in your life.

I offer a no-charge initial call by phone or Zoom.

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