You might experience this during the first interview
Sometimes, we feel low. Sometimes, our thoughts become cloudy. Not the pretty blue clouds, but the gloomy ones. And that’s okay too. Sometimes we don’t even know what is that troubles us. But something is definitely wrong and we know it.
And sometimes, we don’t even know that we need help. People tell us that we do.
And this is when we think of visiting a counsellor.
But, what is it that counsellors do?
What will happen when we visit them?
Every counsellor is different. So, two counsellors could have different strategies of approaching the initial session with their client. And these can largely result from their theoretical training. Given below are the potential questions that might be covered during the first session with the client.
By now, if you are wondering, why does the heading say ‘first interview’? then, it’s a good thought. Well, its called the first interview not because there are a set of right answers that you need to answer. Failing which, you are a bad client! But, there are a set of questions that the counsellors find helpful in understanding their client. So, by covering certain areas about their client’s (sometimes referred to as patients) life, the counsellors are able to understand their client better.
At first, be assured. There’ll be a rapport formation session. Your counsellor will try to make you feel comfortable. Introduce herself and basically, break the ice. The psychic ice. Ok, sorry, no. It’s just a metaphor. Let’s get back to the point. Counselling, it is.
I. Basic Questions
Next, they may ask you questions such as your name, address and other information. Its just some data identification. Sometimes the secretary of the counsellors or the receptionists might ask you this.
Why is it important?
Well, there are two reasons.
One, it is easy to reach out to you.
And second, a counsellor might try to understand the conditions under which her/his client lives. Of course, not to form a judgement about the same. But, just to have a better understanding of their client, these questions might be asked.
Your age, sex and relationship status.
II. Personal History
Your medical history, education, vocational and relationship history is noted here.
Have you taken counselling before?
What are your personal goals in life?
III. Family History
Oh yeah. We talk about your family now. And its okay, it will be a safe space.
Does anyone in your family suffer from any mental conditions?
Does anyone in your family suffer from any physical illnesses?
If talking about your family and/or significant other is difficult, you’ve come to the right place. A counsellor is trained in this stuff. There is no judgement here. Just openness and a healthy conversation.
III. Presenting Problems
Why are you here (in the counselling room)?
‘What made you decide to come for counselling?’
This is when you’ll talk about the problem that you may have identified.
The reason for your visit.
Some people might find it difficult to verbalise their problems. They might say,
“I don’t know why I am here. My friend asked me to visit you”.
And it’s okay. It’s okay not to know.
This is the job of the counsellor to guide you through these conversations. A safe space where together, both you and your counsellor can discover the problems you’re facing. And also devise ways of dealing with those.
If however, you have an understanding of your problem. Your counsellor might ask you
‘How long has this problem persisted?’
The nature, severity and persistence of the problem would be explored.
Taking the decision to go for counselling is not easy. It can even be anxiety-provoking. But, there is a silver lining to your dark clouds. And your counsellor will help you explore those sparks.
If you feel like a counselling session can help you in any form
If your loved ones urge you to seek help,
Maybe it’s a good idea to go for counselling.
And if spending money for a session is difficult, hopefully, you can find NGOs and other organisations that provide sessions for free and/or at lower costs. Counselling will provide you with an opportunity to have a dialogue, not only with the counsellor but even with yourself.