Here’s what you can typically expect in your first three counseling sessions.
NOTE: If you want just one session to talk some things over and get some advice, that’s fine, we may not even complete any paperwork.
SESSION 1: The Initial Consultation (45 minutes)
Many people feel a bit uncomfortable at their first appointment, but those feelings tend to fade quickly as you begin to talk.
The Initial Consultation begins the collaborative relationship you will have with us in the days ahead. You will get to know us and we get to know you, and you get a feel for what it will be like to work together.
This consult, usually conducted by our Director of Counseling, helps us know which counselor is the best fit for you. It may also help us know if we need to refer you to a medical doctor or someone outside our Center.
We’ll review a welcome document, sign a Consent, and complete a Pre-Counseling Inventory. You’ll take home a Counseling Goals form designed to prepare you for the next appointment.
Click below to review the documents. You do not need to print these; we’ll provide them for you at the consultation.
SESSION 2: Goals Review (55 minutes)
In order for Session 2 to be beneficial, you should set aside 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to thoughtfully complete the Counseling Goals form you receive at the consultation.
Take your time. Think deeply.
Write more words rather than less. That will help you and us.
Careless and hurried work on the Goals hinders your progress and may show that you’re not ready to do the hard work needed for change.
Bring the completed Goals form to Session 2.
At Session 2 we’ll probably ask you many questions as we walk through the Goals together and you’ll probably do most of the talking.
This session achieves three objectives:
- IT HELPS you understand and express your problems clearly.
- IT HELPS you look to the future and envision change.
- IT HELPS us thoroughly understand your struggle.
After this appointment you’ll probably have more clarity and a better understanding of yourself. You may also begin to experience some hope for the future if you don’t have that right now.
Depending on the pain and complexity of your situation, the goals review may take two full sessions. Whatever it takes, that’s what we’ll do because we don’t want to rush this step.
At Session 2, your counselor may also begin to provide a few pieces of helpful wisdom and give you some personalized do-at-home assignments.
SESSION 3: Assessment & Solutions Work Begins (55 minutes)
At this session and following is where we help you learn the desires and thinking patterns that may have shaped you and taken you to where you are now.
And we will work with you to help you change. (If you have experienced trauma or abuse, we will carefully and compassionately help you walk through the pain that has caused you.)
“We help you learn the desires and thinking patterns that may have shaped you…”
This usually happens using a Three Desires Self-Assessment because most people need a better understanding of themselves, and of God.
NOTE: Though anyone can benefit from the assessment, this step may not be applicable up-front for those who have been abused, for grief counseling, and the like, when the reasons for the problem are already evident.
This assessment process can stretch over several sessions as we explain human desires and help you assess yourself. The pace differs for each person.
The Three Desires Self-Assessment sets us apart from psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT addresses thought patterns, which can truly be helpful of course, but thoughts are often a result of desires, and so human desires must be addressed. Desires are deeper than thoughts. It is true for most people, that what they “want” is what generates most of their thoughts. Good counseling addresses the human “heart.”
“Desires are deeper than thoughts.”
A psychologist* will typically address someone’s nature, nurture, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, but the most effective counseling must go deeper.
Effective counseling must address what people think about AND what they want in the deepest part of them.
This third appointment is usually where the hard work begins on your part. It’s not easy to change and you will have to show some grit and determination. No counselor, therapist, or psychologist has an easy-button or a magic bullet.
ADAGE: If you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.
Good counseling usually requires two things.
When you visit a doctor you want two things:
- Proper diagnosis
- Proper treatment
When you visit a counselor don’t you want these same things?
A counselor should help you see the deepest reasons for the problems (diagnosis).
Then he or she should know how to help you fix it (treatment). **
Diagnosis and treatment are often a basic part of the counseling process and yet it’s easy for both counselors, therapists, and psychologists to fail at these. We find that many people state on their Pre-Counseling Inventory that their previous counseling wasn’t helpful.
That may be because the counseling didn’t address the deepest “why” beneath the problems, or because the counselor wasn’t able to provide the proper solutions.
** When people are facing problems such as depression or PTSD, we always recommend a full medical exam. If the depression is due to a medical problem or a brain-based problem, then a doctor should be consulted first. That said, in our experience, we usually find that the problems, though often relational, are still ultimately related to desires and thinking.
We’re located on the campus of Bay City Baptist Church (www.baycity.org). This is also the location of Bay City Christian School (www.baycitychristian.org): 1840 Bond Street, Green Bay, WI 54303. If you need marriage counseling, anxiety counseling, depression counseling, or another form of counseling, please click the button below to take your first step.
*A psychologist studies the cognitive, emotional, and social processes of people, along with their behaviors, through talk therapy and observation. They make a diagnosis by interpreting and recording how their patients relate to their surroundings and the most important people in their lives. Psychologists seek to understand and explain the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of their clients. All of this can be helpful for people, but where psychologists tend to struggle is in knowing the deepest causes of the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and the deepest solutions for problems. It is true that our nature and nurture do affect us, but there’s something deeper. When it comes to diagnosis and solutions, we must go deeper than thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We must get down to human desires.