While every counseling relationship we have with people is like its own fingerprint, here’s what you can normally expect in your early counseling sessions. Understanding what to expect can help you feel a little more comfortable at your first session.
PLEASE NOTE: If you want just one session to talk through some things and get some advice, that’s fine with us, we may not even complete any paperwork.
SESSION 1: The Initial Consultation (45 minutes)
It’s completely normal to feel a bit uncomfortable at your first appointment, but those feelings will fade quickly as you begin to talk.
The Initial Consultation initiates the collaborative relationship we will have in the days ahead. You get to know us and we get to know you. You get a feel for what it will feel like to work together.
This consultation, usually conducted by our Director of Counseling, helps us to know which counselor is the best fit. It may also help us know if we need to refer you to a medical doctor or someone else.
At this first session we’ll review a welcome document, sign a Consent, and complete a Pre-Counseling Inventory. Afterwards, you’ll take home a Counseling Goals form that will prep 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. NOTE: We are a mandatory reporting organization and will immediately report cases of abuse to local law-enforcement.
SESSION 2: Goals Review (55 minutes)
In order for Session 2 to be helpful, it’s important that you set aside 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to carefully consider and complete the Counseling Goals form you receive at the consultation.
Take your time. Think deeply.
Write more words rather than less. That helps you and us both.
Thoughtless and careless work on the Goals will hinder your progress toward change and may show that you’re not ready to do the hard work that lies ahead.
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 session 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 help you walk through the pain at a pace that’s best for 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 those needing 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 and couple.
The Three Desires Self-Assessment sets us apart from psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT addresses thought patterns, and addressing our thoughts is important, but thoughts are often a result of desires, therefore 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* (see note below) will typically address someone’s nature, nurture, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, but the most effective kind of counseling must go deeper than all of these.
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 typically begins on your part. It’s not easy to change and you will need to show some grit, determination, and dependence on God. No counselor, therapist, or psychologist has an easy-button or a magic bullet. If you’ve had a counselor tell you that, they are not being honest.
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 the counselor 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 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 or brain-based problem, then it is imperative that medical help is sought. With that said, in our experience, we usually find that the problems are tied to relationships, 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.
This can be helpful for people, but many psychologists tend to struggle to explain human desires, which are the deepest cause of human behaviors. They can also struggle with knowing and applying the deepest solutions for the problems. While it is true that our nature and nurture do affect us deeply, there’s still something deeper. When it comes to diagnosis and solutions, we must go deeper than nature, nurture, thoughts, emotions, and mere behaviors. We must understand human desires because it is these desires that move us to action. We all “want” something(s) and we’re good at chasing after what we want.