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  • What to Expect from Your First Counseling Session

    Starting counseling can sometimes feel scary and intimidating, especially for those who experience anxiety. Fear of the unknown can even prevent some individuals from seeking out treatment in the first place. Hopefully, having more knowledge on what to expect from an initial session can make the first step to seeking treatment a little easier.

    Prior to your first counseling session

    Prior to your first appointment, you will have been emailed a series of forms to fill out and sign, which can all be completed and returned virtually through a secure portal. The forms outline various policies and procedures such as the client’s right to confidentiality and the practice’s cancelation policy. There are also personal information forms such as emergency contact and client history. One of the first things your counselor will ask is if you have questions or concerns about any of these forms. It is important to read and fill out the forms prior to your session so that not too much time has to be spent on going over these details, and more time can be spent on getting to know you as the client.

    Your initial counseling session

    The initial counseling session is called the intake, and its primary purpose is to gain information about you, the client. In the Client History Form, you will have responded to various prompts asking about the reasons you are seeking treatment, your mental health history, and if you’re currently taking any medications. It also has sections asking about your family history, occupational/educational history, and social/leisure activities. During the intake session, the counselor will ask about much of the same information you provided on the form. You do not have to go into too much detail at this point if you prefer not to. The purpose is for the counselor to begin to gain an understanding of who you are and what events in your life have brought you to where you are currently.

    The intake is the only session where the counselor has a specific set of questions to ask you; future sessions will be tailored to you as an individual and whatever best suits your needs. It is important to keep in mind that like anything, counseling is a process and it takes time. There are very rarely overnight solutions to mental health, but with time and dedication, you will experience results. Seeking treatment takes courage and hopefully knowing more about what the initial session entails can make the first step less intimidating.

    Get Support From A Mental Health Professional

    Get help new heights logo phoneOur staff at New Heights Counseling wants you to know, that help is available. Call us today at (850) 757-1552 or visit our website at New Heights Counseling to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors. Your first counseling session should not be stressful. We want to ensure that you leave feeling confident and comfortable with your decision to seek counseling. Check out our staff bios on our website at meet our team. Our mental health providers will develop a treatment plan with you, so you can begin the journey of healing. The pace is set by you and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

    New Heights therapists are professionally trained to help people who struggle with all types of emotional pain and distress. We specialize in helping clients deal with depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, grief, relationship issues, anger management, self-esteem, parenting skills, and many other problems. We work closely with patients to create personalized plans for recovery.

    Therapeutic techniques include cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, as well as other types of psychotherapy. We specialize in EMDR therapy where patients learn how to rewire their brains using eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). This type of therapy helps reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, panic attacks, OCD, and other disorders.

    We offer free consultations to determine whether you would benefit from counseling services. If you decide to pursue treatment, we’ll provide you with a detailed treatment plan, which includes goals and objectives, along with recommended therapies. Your counseling sessions will be confidential and private. All of our counselors are professionals who are committed to providing you with quality care.

    5 common thoughts you might be experiencing

    My therapist will probably judge me or assume I’m crazy.

    Your therapist is a human being just like you. He/She knows what it’s like to struggle with mental health concerns. Everyone has issues, and your therapist understands that your issues are how they are, not who you really are. Like most people, therapists often hear some pretty extreme things, but don’t worry; your therapist isn’t judging you. In addition, your therapist knows that nobody is perfect and everyone needs to work on their own self. This doesn’t mean that your therapist thinks that you’re crazy or that you are weak because of your struggles. Instead, it means that your therapist recognizes that everyone has problems and that we all need to work hard to overcome them.

    “I’m scared of revisiting painful experiences or revealing embarrassing things.”

    At the end of the initial meeting, it is common for clients to express some discomfort with sharing certain aspects of themselves because they fear rejection, embarrassment, shame, humiliation, or blame. These fears are normal and understandable. However, it is important to remember that you do not need to share everything at your first session. Many people find that they begin to share more as the weeks go by, and eventually they start to feel safe enough to share the most difficult parts of themselves.

    “I worry my therapist is going to want me to change things I don’t feel ready for.”

    Many people do not realize that therapists are trained to meet the patient “where they are” and to understand that people only change when they are ready and when they want to change. In addition, therapists know that people usually relapse or engage in self-destructive behaviors because they are stuck in old habits. However, therapists are trained to recognize these issues and help clients overcome them. You can trust your therapist to guide you through any changes that you may need to make.

    “I don’t know if I will like my therapist.”

    Therapists understand not everyone will be a match for them. In fact, many people go through several rounds of therapy before they find one that works for them. So, don’t let this concern stop you from trying out different therapists. Find a therapist who makes you feel safe, comfortable, and seems to best understand and can help you move forward in the direction you want to go.

    “I’ve heard after my therapy session, I will feel worse than before.”

    Understand that it is natural to feel worse after therapy sessions. This is because therapy is often uncomfortable and difficult to talk about. As a result, clients are likely to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, sadness, fear, hopelessness, grief, loneliness, self-doubt, and low mood. The good news is that these feelings usually pass quickly and gradually improve as therapy progresses. Your health and well-being is worth overcoming these feelings that you might experience during your first few counseling sessions.

    Are You Ready To Start Your Counseling?

    The staff and counselors at New Heights Counseling, an independent practice located in Fort Walton Beach, FL., are ready to assist you with your recovery journey. Our intake team is available by phone (850)757-1552, Monday-Friday 8 AM to 4 PM. or by email at to answer any questions you have regarding our services. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our qualified therapists today! Their clinical counseling skills will guide you through the process of overcoming your concerns.


    Appointment Schedule (Last appointment – 4 PM)

    Person scheduling new heights counseling session on iPadSunday Closed

    Monday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Tuesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Wednesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Thursday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Friday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

    Evenings/Weekends by Appointment

     Additional Resources:

    Not ready for counseling yet? Read these blogs written by New Heights Counseling therapists.

    About the Author:

    Hillary Marshall, New Heights CounselorHillary Marshall is a PRE-LICENSED Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern and passionate about helping others. She has experience working with adults, children, and couples. She is Level 2 trauma trained in EMDR and works with clients who are impacted by the decision of Roe v. Wade. Hillary approaches each client with compassion and empathy, She is dedicated to her clients’ care and services in Fort Walton Beach, CrestviewNicevilleDestin, and surrounding communities. Hear from Hillary at Watch Video and book an appointment with Hillary Here!