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A Helpful Guide to Your First Counselling Session

At any given year, 1 in every 5 Canadians experience addiction, and because of this, counselling is an integral part of the rehabilitation process. Making the decision to seek help for an addiction is one of the most important things you can do. Once you have gone through the detoxification process, you might feel ready for your first counselling session.

Counselling, or therapy, can be conducted in a group setting, with your family, or as a one-on-one session. Depending on your needs, the counselling sessions can be intensive at the beginning, but will gradually reduce over time as your symptoms improve.

Here are the different types of counselling and their desired intent:

Individual Counselling

Individual counselling lets you work one-on-one with a trained mental health professional. It’s a form of psychotherapy that brings you into a safe and caring environment and works by allowing you to open up in confidentiality for an open discussion on the challenges you are facing.

Because every individual has a unique set of needs, there is no distinct formula to carry out individual counselling. However, there are common approaches, which are:

Group Counselling

As the name suggests, this type of counselling is where a small group of individuals come together with a professional counsellor. Each person is given a chance to share their experiences and listen to what each other has to say.

Because of its relatable nature, group counselling aims to solve behavioural issues involved with addiction, such as relapse prevention. With the support of your peers, group sessions boost motivation and remove the feeling of isolation during this process.

An individual nervously fidgets with their hands

Expectations for Your First Counselling Session

Before we move on to the list of things that can happen during your first counselling session, be sure to give yourself some credit for getting this far. Kicking the habit is a major step and you have a lot to be proud of.

You have already done yourself a great favour by acknowledging the problem and finding solutions for it. With that in mind, let’s walk through the things that you need to know before attending your first counselling session.

1. Expect to Fill Out Some Paperwork

Like all medical procedures that you might have gone through in the past, you will need to fill out some forms. Don’t worry, everything you disclose is confidential information and will only be used to ensure that the treatment you are getting is culturally competent and safe.

Some of the forms that you might be asked to fill out are:

  • Insurance information
  • Medical history information
  • Therapist-patient service agreement

If you feel uncomfortable filling out these forms, you can wait until you are face-to-face with your therapist. There’s no rush or any pressure to complete them.

2. Expect to be Asked Questions About Your Past

Your first counselling session might be different from succeeding ones. The first one is always considered as a chance to get comfortable with each other. This means that your counsellor or therapist, or your peers, will ask questions about you.

You might feel nervous or anxious at the start, but there is no need to worry. Know that you are in a safe place and your therapist only wants you to be better. Being able to know your past habits allows your counsellor to come up with a customized treatment program that is best for you.

Some of the questions they might ask, initially, could be about:

  • Homelife
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Medical history
  • Addiction history and patterns
  • What you expect from the sessions

Understand that the next sessions will be more therapeutic, with an intent to understand your specific situation. The main goal of counselling for addiction is to change the way you think about using substances, as well as to strengthen your skills moving forward.

Two people embrace during a group counselling session

3. You Can Ask Your Therapist Some Questions

Once your first counselling session is nearing an end, your therapist will ask if you have any questions or concerns. You can use this opportunity to get to know more about your therapist’s approaches, training and experience, and their goals for your treatment.

Some of the questions you can ask are:

  • How can I be sure that this is all in confidentiality?
  • What is the level of confidentiality?
  • How long will each session last?
  • How many sessions do I have to go through?
  • What can I expect to happen in future sessions?

This is a good way to find out if you feel comfortable disclosing information about yourself – forming a trusting relationship with your therapist is an important factor towards your full recovery.

4. Fully Understand That Your Counsellor Is Your Ally

One good way to prepare for your first counselling session is to hold onto the fact that your therapist wants to help. Be confident that whatever you say to them, they will not expose your shortcomings, mistakes, or weaknesses. They are your co-collaborators in this whole process.

Individual and Group Counselling at Freedom From Addiction

Are you ready for your first counselling session? Whether it is for substance abuse or for your mental health, we will guide you through it. Our team of trained and compassionate counsellors at Freedom From Addiction in Toronto will offer the necessary programs to reach goals and sustain your progress. Our highly personal approach allows us to focus on each individual and give them the best care they deserve.

For more information about our drug addiction treatments, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. A member of our team will get back to you shortly. Contact us today!


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