I offer a free 30 minute initial assessment to all clients (individuals and couples) and see it as a useful opportunity for each of us to ask valuable questions before beginning therapy.
Entering into therapy is an investment in yourself. Throughout the process of counselling you may touch on issues that are very personal to you, things you may never have talked about before. Meeting beforehand allows you the opportunity to check out how you feel discussing your personal issues and decide whether you feel comfortable working with me. The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) recommend you meet with a couple of counsellors before deciding on who to work with as we each work differently.
An initial assessment is not a counselling session but an opportunity to talk about why you are seeking counselling and what brought you to counselling now. Sometimes people have a clear idea on what they want, while others want space and time to talk, explore what’s going on for them or find some understanding of a situation that helps them move forward.
It provides you with an opportunity to ask me questions maybe around how I work, what my qualifications are, whether I have the necessary skills and experience to help you address your needs or any organisations I am registered with that recognise my skills and abilities in which you can check me out. You might want to know about confidentiality and what boundaries am I required to keep and under what circumstances might that be different.
This is also an opportunity to discuss the cost of the therapy sessions, how long does a session last and agreeing the frequency of meeting and whether we are looking at short-term or longer-term work. I generally discuss any essential paperwork in this assessment as I prefer future sessions to be focused on you and your needs and it also allows us to set clear boundaries on how we are going to work together.
The environment that I work within is just as important as considering whether to work with me, and rightly so. Knowing where I am, how to access the building along with the room layout can be a key factor in how you feel. It’s important that not only do you feel safe working with me but also do you feel safe enough in the environment I work in to be able to begin to do the work.
Counselling is not about giving you advice, but encouraging you to access your own healthy resources and build new ones in order to address the problems you are experiencing. An assessment allows us to explore and consider where you are with those skills and whether counselling is appropriate at this time. Whether you’re an individual or a couple looking for counselling taking the time to really explore these areas is important before undertaking any sessions.
Previous blogs related to Why an initial meeting with a counsellor is useful:
23 April 2018, Self-care – The importance of taking time for you
Picture: styles66 (2018) ‘Job interview’ [Online] Available at: https://pixabay.com/en/job-interview-interview-job-3410427/ (Accessed: 8 May 2018)
BACP (2018) ‘What happens in therapy. How therapists work’ BACP [Online] Available at: https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/what-happens-in-therapy/ (Accessed: 22 May 2018)
BACP (2018) ‘How to find the therapist for you.’ BBC Like Minds [Online] Available at: https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/2018/4-may-2018-bbc-like-minds/ (Accessed:22 May 2018)