People have varied emotions after their first visit to a counselor in Orlando. Some are excited about the process and can’t wait for their next session, and others may be emotionally drained and anxious about whether counseling is really right for them. It is perfectly normal to feel a wide range of emotions throughout counseling, and the first session, in particular, can be emotionally unpredictable. Here are some tips for coping with the highs and lows you may experience following your initial visit with a mental health professional.
Counseling intake appointments are different than continued sessions because you have to provide lots of background information about yourself. Counselors like to have a general understanding of your history in the beginning to ensure they are the best fit for you and establish some goals for your treatment moving forward. It is sometimes exhausting to lay out your emotional background in under an hour, especially to a stranger.
If you feel overwhelmed following your intake session, understand that the upcoming sessions will be different than the first. Your subsequent counseling sessions will feel more like conversations than an interview on your life story. In addition, as your counselor becomes more familiar with your behaviors and thought patterns, they will be more actively involved with your visits and supportive. As a result, you will focus more on progressing toward your goals after the initial visit.
Let your counselor know if they said or did something you appreciated, like teaching you valuable skills, respecting your boundaries, or validating your identity. It is essential to acknowledge when sessions are moving in a positive direction, so you continue progressing in a way that works well for you. On the other hand, if you left the initial session feeling negative, take time to reflect on why. For example, if you were triggered by discussing trauma events, tell your counselor you are not comfortable broaching that subject yet. Then, they will avoid pressuring you to discuss it until you are ready.
On the other hand, if you had a negative experience because you did not feel a connection with your provider, understand that this is common. It is essential to recognize that finding the right counselor can be a little like dating: a lack of connection with one provider does not mean counseling won’t benefit you. Consider setting up an intake appointment with a different counselor if you did not connect with your first one, but do not give up on the process as a whole!
It is okay to feel down after your first session. Seeing a counselor in Orlando is not the same as treating a stomach bug or headache: your symptoms will not subside overnight, and some people feel worse before feeling better. However, a counselor that is a good fit will respond to you in ways that affirm your feelings and give you confidence that you will feel better in the future. Do your best to differentiate between the initial discomfort of broaching painful topics and a counselor who is not an excellent fit for your needs and personality. It takes a while to explore and process challenging emotions and learn new skills for facing future challenges, even with the best fitting provider, so stay committed.
After the initial session, take the time you need to relax and process feelings that surface. Avoid jumping right back into work or school responsibilities, responding to emails and texts, or taking public transportation. Instead, treat yourself to a cup of coffee, take a short walk, or read something you enjoy. Regardless of how you feel about the initial session, seeking counseling is a big step toward self-care. Be proud of yourself and celebrate this important personal milestone.