When I first meet with a new client I think that it’s important for me to understand how they feel about the experience. For most people it’s likely to be the first time that they’ve made use of a counsellor so it’s understandable that, as with many other first time experiences, they feel apprehensive and concerned, not knowing what to expect.
The prospect of sharing thoughts and feelings that you may never have been spoken about to anyone, perhaps especially with a stranger, can seem daunting. Perhaps you’re not even sure of how you feel or what your difficulties are.
I don’t know that anything that I say to them at the beginning of our meeting can offer much reassurance but almost with exception people find the time we work together a much easier experience than they had imagined.
I can understand people’s concerns. Not only do they have to face this unusual experience but they also have to deal with their preconceptions and the beliefs that they and others have attached to the significance of ‘having counselling’.
It’s a common belief that ‘having counselling’ means that somehow you’re inadequate, not strong enough to deal with your own problems; that only people who are in some way ‘weak’ turn to counsellors.
Wow. How wrong can you get it!
When I sit with a new client for the first time, when I get the first email or the first telephone call, I have a real sense of awe.
How many people do you know living in this difficult and stressful world who just continue to ‘soldier on’, in difficult relationships, in difficult working environments, facing difficult issues and difficult experiences, just being ’strong’ and being unhappy or discontent.
Yet here I have here in front of me the exception. Here I have in front of me the one that has said ‘No, this is not good enough for me.’, ‘No, this is not what I want.’
The moment that you pick up the phone, the moment that you send the email, you have decided to take control of your life and that’s what makes you different. You’re probably not even sure how you’re going to do it but that’s okay because you have made the decision and that’s what’s important.
So what am I in awe of? I am in awe of your courage.
I know that you may not feel courageous, but you are.