First Counseling Appointment: What it’s like and How I Prepare

Preparing for an appointment

I write my recent and past symptoms and any pressing concerns I have down on paper or in my phone on the notes app. I like to do this so I make sure to cover everything I want to. I also want to keep my counselor up to date on things going on in my life.

I like to make sure I schedule my appointments in the morning so I have time to fit in classes and other obligations later in the day. But if I know I’m working on something tough that day I’ll take time out afterward for a well deserved break to help me recover from my session.

How does counseling work?

Usually if you are doing in person counseling you check in with the front desk and wait until your therapist comes out and calls your name. You then go in and sit wherever you like. Then the therapist will likely ask you some questions and you will answer and bring up any concerns. Then depending on the type of therapy you are having the therapist will give you techniques to cope or homework that you will practice outside of your appointment. Then you will make another appointment for whenever you and your therapist agree on. I usually go once a week but there is a possibility that you could go multiple times a week or even less than that, like once a month or every few months. It just depends on the therapists schedule and your schedule and current state. Therapy sessions usually last around 50 minutes.

Online counseling is a bit different. You can usually message your therapist at any point in the day and also have scheduled times to speak over messenger, phone, or video.

First Appointment

The first time I went into a new counseling center there was a stack of paperwork waiting for me at the front desk. Just confidentiality forms, medical history, insurance documents, and so on. This part isn’t the most interesting or helpful but it is important. And when I had any question about what I was filling out I asked a member of the center’s staff and they explained everything through for me.

I also was asked to come 15 to 30 minutes before my scheduled appointment to fill out the forms.

I first met with a coordinator. She was there to get to know me so she could find the right counselor for me. She asked me loads of questions about myself: my medical history, likes and dislikes, why I chose to come to therapy, family life, friends, and so on.


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