for the first timers in therapy.

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Deciding to go to therapy isn’t always an easy process, there are nerves, fears, and of course – the financial component. It is an investment of time, energy, and resources. And it’s often not something done on a whim.

Lots of people toy around with the idea of therapy multiple times before actually pulling the trigger and making an appointment, and a fair amount of folks make appointments and cancel before attending a first session.

The thought of spilling your guts to a stranger can be a little overwhelming.

Or a lot overwhelming.

I get this. Really. Been there, done that.

I wanted to take a minute and tell you what it’s like as a therapist to see someone come for the first time, all nervous and jittery and unsure of what will happen. When folks grace my little blue couch, here’s what happens for me:

  1. I’m excited. And in awe. The courage it takes to decide that now is the time to start working at doing things differently, or sorting through stuck spots is brilliant and beautiful.
  2. I’m hopeful for you. It’s tricky to change things if we don’t acknowledge that they’re not working in some capacity. When people decide to come to therapy, they are actively engaging in their healing and growth – and even though it may seem like a different way of being/feeling is far off, I can see the potential in you right from the first session. Lots of times people who come to therapy are fresh out of hope. Don’t worry, I have an infinite supply and I’m ready to share.
  3. I know that you’re nervous. And chances are we’ll talk directly about it. And we’ll work to make you feel comfortable by going at a pace that suits you. Sometimes in first sessions we can get into deep spaces, but often first sessions are a bit lighter than others. Together we figure out a speed and depth that is challenging, yet safe.
  4. I’m honoured you landed on my couch (and I’m not judging you, your story, or the concerns you bring.) You could have ended up at any counsellor in Winnipeg, but you’re tucked in a bright, second floor office space with me. And I am honoured to get to be part of your story. Also, I am really not judging whatever it is that brought you to therapy – no matter how seemingly small or trivial you may say that it is. We’ll work together to put that concern into a broader story, and figure out the underlying reasons some of those things have been causing distress.

I also am not sure if I can completely articulate in words how special it is when people come with trepidation and fear, and leave a session feeling relieved and ‘lighter.’ Most recently I had someone who came to therapy as an act of love to their partner express surprise at looking forward to coming back. Sometimes people actually start to like coming to counselling!

These things warm this therapist’s heart.

First timers – the nerves are normal. The uncertainty is par for the course. It’s okay that you don’t know exactly what will happen at a session, I’ve got that part covered for you. What you bring matters very much, and it would be an absolute privilege to journey with you for a while, and to help you navigate some tricky spaces. You can do hard things, and my hope is that by the end of the hour you will feel more comfortable with the process than when you started.

So a shout out to you folks today, all those who have sat on a couch for the first time – and lived to tell about it. And to those who are thinking of it? I’m cheering you on. You’ve got this.

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