If you're struggling with depression, scheduling sessions with a counselor can be a great way to talk through some of your issues and find solutions or coping mechanisms that can help. Still, if you've never attended a counseling session before, you may be having some mixed feelings about your upcoming appointment. By knowing what to expect and taking steps to make the most of your session, you can get off on the right foot.
Some counselors or therapists will give new clients "homework" of sorts before they even meet in-person. For example, a counselor may ask you to bring a list of questions to your first appointment. He or she may even ask you to keep a journal in the weeks leading up to your appointment as part of your therapy. To make the most of your first session, make sure you have completed any tasks that your counselor has asked of you--no matter how menial they may seem.
Talk About Goals
At your first session, your therapist or counselor will likely allow you to "take the reigns," so to speak. This is a common technique used by therapists to get a better feel for their clients by allowing them to open up and speak as much as they're comfortable. This can be a great opportunity for you to talk to your counselor about your goals. What, exactly, are you hoping to get out of your sessions? Establishing clear goals with your counselor will help ensure that you're both on the same page.
Be Open to Ideas
Your counselor may suggest some ideas for exercises both inside the office and at-home that may seem unconventional at first, but it's important to trust these professionals and be open to these ideas. Of course, if something makes you uncomfortable or forces you to talk about something you're not ready to get into just yet, it's perfectly okay to let your counselor know this.
Realize It's Not Permanent
Finally, understand that your first session with a counselor is just that--a single session. Since most counselors bill per-session, you should be under no obligation to return if you don't feel like you and the counselor are a good match. Sometimes, it can take consulting with a few different professionals before you find the one that works best for your needs. Don't feel guilty about "shopping around," and certainly don't feel obligated to schedule a second session if you don't want to.