8 Things to Know Before Your First Online Counseling Session

Deciding to go to therapy can be a difficult decision to make. However, admitting you need professional help for your mental issues is a giant step towards a healthier future. So, congratulations! We know that the road you took to get to this point was a rocky one.

Since we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, the safest way to get the help you deserve is via online counseling. As this process can be quite intimidating for a first-time goer, we’re here to give you a bit of a heads-up.

So, without any further ado, let’s begin!

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1. You can always change your counselor

Source: betterhelp.com

Now, there’s a high chance you and your therapist won’t “click.” Different counselors have different approaches, and you should never stick around if you’re not feeling comfortable with theirs. There’s nothing wrong with changing your therapist, but make sure you’re not doing it because they’re telling you things you don’t want to hear. Hearing those harsh truths is beneficial to your mental health. Your counselor doesn’t have any ulterior motives or hidden agendas: they’re here to help.

Nonetheless, if you feel like it’s still not working after you’ve sat through session after session, don’t hesitate to change therapists.

2. Things can get awkward

Talking about your fears and emotions to a stranger can leave you feeling quite awkward at times. It will take some time before you start opening up during the sessions, which is entirely normal. Your therapist won’t judge you for it, so take it as slowly as you need to.

A good therapist will help you start feeling more comfortable with the entire situation, at your own pace. So, don’t worry about those awkward pauses you made while talking to your counselor- it’s perfectly normal, and nobody is going to judge you for it.

3. Remember to ask questions

Source: georgetownpsychology.com

You probably think that therapy is a one-way street where you’ll vent for an hour or two while your therapist nods and writes down their notes. Well, in reality, counseling feels more like an actual conversation than anything else. If you have any questions you want to ask your therapist, don’t hesitate to do so.

You can always prepare the questions you have in advance, so there’s never a need for those awkward silences everyone hates. Whatever you do, remember that you can feel free to ask anything that comes to your mind. You don’t have to be afraid of being judged or ridiculed, as that’s the last thing your therapist would do.

4. Don’t expect to get medication

If your issues start manifesting physically, you’ll need to visit a doctor or a physiatrist. Your counselor is probably a psychologist, not a medical professional. That means they’re not allowed to prescribe any medication.

Your psychologist can still recommend you a good psychiatrist if they deem you need one. Psychiatrists and psychologists often work together to help their typical patients achieve the betterment of their mental health.

Overall, you shouldn’t expect to get a clinical diagnosis nor a drug prescription from starting your online counseling sessions.

5. Choosing a reliable provider is of utmost importance

Source: aamc.org

Many people give up on online counseling way too early in the process. That mostly happens because they choose the wrong service providers. The internet is a prominent place, so you can expect to find many low-quality servicehs there, even when it comes to mental health.

So, do your research and read up on reviews and ratings such as those at drmental.org. It’s the only way to ensure you’re getting the help you deserve. Don’t be afraid to switch platforms if you start feeling like the first one you’ve chosen isn’t living up to your expectations.

6. Lying during your sessions only hurts you

Let’s be realistic here: therapy is expensive. Saving up for your first session can be quite a financial achievement. So, you wouldn’t want to waste it by lying to your counselor, would you?

If you try to hide or modify the truth, your therapist will likely see right through you. Still, they’ll need to use some advanced techniques to get the facts out of you. You can make their job much easier by being honest in the first place. Yes, the truth can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but it’s much better than wasting hours of your time and thousands of your dollars for nothing.

7. It’s all confidential

Source: freedomwithincenter.com

You don’t have to worry about your sensitive information ever leaving the video call between you and your counselor. They have a professional obligation and responsibility to keep your data safe.

If a therapist violates the confidentiality rules, they’re risking losing their licenses forever. So, you do not have to worry about them sharing your deepest family secrets with their Facebook friends any time soon! They’re trained professionals who worked hard on getting their credentials, so they’re not going to risk it all over gossip.

8. Your therapist isn’t your friend

Psychologists are human too, so they’re likely to form an opinion about you after you have spent a couple of hour-long therapy sessions together. However, you’ll never be able to tell what it is, so don’t even bother.

While your counselor is probably very empathetic and compassionate towards you, please don’t mix it up with genuine friendship. It’s their job to be good listeners who help others heal and grow.

So, inviting your online therapist to your home would be extremely inappropriate (and unsafe!), for example. Your relationship with them should be strictly formal and professional, at least while they’re still your counselor.

The bottom line

While logging into your first online counseling session can be quite intimidating at first, you’ll quickly see it’s nothing to be afraid of. You were brave enough to decide to seek help for your issues, so keep on going!

Make sure to consider some of these tips before you start your online counseling journey, and you’ll undoubtedly get better in no time!

Good luck with your therapy, and don’t give up