Congratulations! You have taken a big step into the world of telemental counseling. Counseling can be a scary thing to jump into and meeting your counselor is the first step in building an alliance to help you reach your goals.
What’s a therapeutic alliance?
The most important part of counseling therapy is not the techniques, the modality or even the frequency of appointments. Forming an alliance and solid working relationship with your counselor is critical to having a good experience. While the words “alliance” and “relationship” sound rather intense, it simply means building trust little by little with a professional that is here to help. Helping includes a lot – being your cheerleader, your accountability partner, your guide through life’s pitfalls and whatever you may need. Trusting your counselor is the number one factor in success.
Therapy requires being PRESENT. That is so hard to do in today’s world, where life’s demands are always reminding you of a to do list, and the “what-ifs.”
Here’s a handy acronym to help you to be PRESENT.
P- Prepare for your session
It is important to come to the counseling session a bit prepared. Put yourself in a space where you can have privacy and serenity. Prepare your body and mind for a dynamic conversation whether that includes deep breathing, meditating, or getting your energy up by dancing. When you come to counseling prepared, you have already done half of the work.
R- Remind yourself
It’s not easy to meet with someone new and talk about what’s bothering you. That’s something that many can’t bring themselves to do. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you have come here for a specific reason and you deserve to feel heard and represented.
While so many people think of counselors as the silent, head-nodding experts that judge the poor soul on the other side of the screen, good counseling is the complete opposite. Ask questions, be humorous and enjoy the experience of meeting someone new.
S- Speak your truth
When meeting a therapist for the first time, you may feel like holding back. This is a stranger. Why am I telling my secrets? That is the best thing you can do. Speaking your truth to someone who is unbiased and has no judgment toward you is one of the most healing practices we can do as humans. Sometimes simply speaking the problem or feeling out loud is the most helpful.
While this may seem silly, reminding yourself to enjoy this experience will make these first few sessions so much less stressful.
N- Next Steps
Having goals in mind before counseling even starts is half of the battle. Express your needs and wants out of counseling. Plan with your counselor what you want your experience to be like and what are the next steps to get there.
Perhaps the hardest part of therapy is allowing yourself to be vulnerable and speak honestly. Trust doesn’t come easily, especially for those of us who have had hard times or have had people break our trust in the past. Choosing to trust is extremely important and difficult. Know that your counselor is here for you. You are the top priority and your trust is handled with immense care and respect.
By practicing PRESENT, therapy will be a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Be proud of your decision to start this journey. Take a seat and enjoy the ride!
To get started on the path to hope and healing, click here.