What to Expect in the First Counseling Session

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Go into your first counseling session with confidence! A wide range of thoughts and feelings may accompany you leading up to your appointment. This episode exists to help you create a healthy framework for what you can expect with that first session. There are plenty of stigmas that surround seeing a counselor, all of which haven't done us any favors in convincing us to take that first step in our mental health journey. Heather Larrabee, New Vista Outpatient Clinician Educator, addresses some of these common hesitations and fears, describes what goes on in the beginning stages of your sessions and dispels common myths associated with therapy.


Kevin Wallace 0:11 Hello and welcome to The Good Ahead Podcast where we host conversations in the areas of mental health, substance use and intellectual and developmental disabilities. I'm your host, Kevin Wallace with New Vista. Starting just about anything can be very intimidating. For this episode, we thought it'd be a good idea to invite on one of our New Vista outpatient clinician educators, Heather Larrabee, to share her insight on what to expect when seeing your counselor for the first time. We explore some common hesitations and fears, describe what goes on in the beginning stages of counseling sessions and expose some myths associated with therapy. So whether you're on the fence about seeing a counselor, are about to start your first session, or have been seeing a counselor for some time, well done. We're so glad you've joined us. Okay, enjoy this conversation with Heather. All right, well, welcome in. Today, we have with us Heather Larrabee. Heather is an outpatient clinician educator for the Fayette County hub. And we're excited to be talking about what to expect in your first counseling session. So welcome, Heather, thanks for being on today with us.

Heather Larrabee 1:35 Thanks so much. I'm really excited to be here.

Kevin Wallace 1:39 Excellent. Well, as far as talking about opening the conversation, for those that may be hesitant about starting their first counseling session, we want to be able to serve our audience in a way that helps break those fears, and create a healthy understanding for what they can expect for coming into their first counseling session. So let's open that conversation and talk about what some common reasons people are hesitant to even start therapy in the first place. So, if you would, just tell us some common reasons that people would be hesitant to start a counseling session.

Heather Larrabee 2:22 Sure, absolutely. So there are a number of possible reasons people might have some apprehension about doing therapy. So, I'll just talk about maybe some of the most common of those. You know, for one thing, if someone's never had therapy before in their life, just like any other new experience, or new situation that you've never been in before, there's some anxiety connected to the unknown, just the uncertainty. So hopefully, today, you know, we can help with that a little bit. But I think it's particularly true with therapy, because people know that they're going into a situation where they're going to be sharing some personal information. And it can be a very emotional experience, they're struggling, and they're going to be talking to somebody they've never met before. So there's a lot of vulnerability in that. And so I think that that's a really probably the most common reason that people can have some anxiety.

Kevin Wallace 3:22 Sure. And oftentimes, people come into a first counseling session with, like you said, with a lot of things that are weighing on them in their life. And so vulnerability could be really hard to get to with someone you're just meeting for the first time.

Heather Larrabee 3:37 Yes, absolutely.

Kevin Wallace 3:39 I could see that being one of the major commonalities between people that are starting their first session. They, because a lot of people come into, like they, there's a reason behind therapy. So there's a lot of stuff that that can, that people can bring into these sessions.

Heather Larrabee 3:58 Absolutely. And that actually kind of brings us to probably the next big common fear, which is fear of judgment or embarrassment, about whatever it is, they're coming in for whether that they're experiencing certain kinds of symptoms, or a circumstance or situation in their life. It's, it's scary to open up and to tell your story at times. And so that's a really common thing. Another really common reason is sometimes people have had a bad past experience. Maybe it's not their first time with therapy, but they've had it in the past. And for whatever reason, it didn't go well or didn't go how they expected or they didn't have a good connection. And so if that's happened, it's really hard to get the courage to go again and try again with someone new. Although I think it's really really important that people don't allow their entire view of therapy to be colored by one negative experience. Sometimes it takes a few times to try to find the right fit.

Kevin Wallace 5:07 Yes.

Heather Larrabee 5:07 So that's a common fear as well. Another huge reason is sometimes folks have come from a background or a family, or a culture that discourages therapy, or even stigmatizes it in some way. And so they're having to make this tough decision between seeking out help and getting, you know, self care, taking care of their needs, versus kind of loyalty to their upbringing, our culture, and that's a really hard decision to navigate. And sometimes they might feel like they're betraying someone or something in the process of trying to help themselves.

Kevin Wallace 5:51 Absolutely, that's a, that's a very interesting point, you want to be able to do what's best for you. And if the people that have been around you your whole life, say that that's not going to work, then you're going to start believing that it's probably not going to work. But you're saying, you know, this is a huge step to help break that mold.

Heather Larrabee 6:11 It is, you know, and, and there's lots of reasons that that people believe or, you know, historically have looked down on therapy. But I really do feel like as a society, we really do need to work on shutting down this idea that somehow suppressing emotions or talk, you know, not talking about things, minimizing the impact of stressors in your life, and how those are affecting your mental health. We need to shut down the idea that somehow that's a measure of strength.

Kevin Wallace 6:48 Yeah.

Heather Larrabee 6:49 Because it's really quite the opposite. If you really think about the courage and the strength that it takes to open up.

Kevin Wallace 6:59 Yeah.

Heather Larrabee 6:59 And to be vulnerable. And to share your story.

Kevin Wallace 7:04 Totally. Yeah, there's there's power in that weakness, admitting that and admitting that you need help, because that's, that's really the starting point of getting the help that you need.

Heather Larrabee 7:14 Absolutely. That's true. And I do think, you know, with respect to certainly people wanting to honor their family, their traditions, their culture, certainly have respect for that. But I also think any time you know that you are in a place where you're having to decide between loyalty to yourself and your needs versus disappointing others.

Kevin Wallace 7:44 Yes.

Heather Larrabee 7:45 If it comes to, you know, being loyal to someone else is creating harm. And you're suffering as a result of that by not taking care of your needs. And I think it's time to reevaluate. What do I need to do here? What is what is the next step for me? Do I need to rethink my priorities?

Kevin Wallace 8:06 Yeah. So when we acknowledge these common reasons, what are some things that we can do to help ease the anxiety that comes with that first session?

Heather Larrabee 8:15 So I think that there are several things that you can do. And the first thing I would say is don't be afraid to ask questions. So if it's your first time and you're feeling really nervous, and there are certain things that you're specifically worried about, just simple things, for example, like okay, when I get there, you know, where do I go to check in? How long can I expect to wait? Where's the building located? How does telehealth work? All these kinds of things are more logistical issues, but for some people, they cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. So I would certainly encourage people if you have things like this that you're nervous about that can be answered for you in advance, please feel free when you call to make your appointment to ask these questions and to not hesitate you know, to get that information in advance. Another thing I would say is to feel free to self advocate for example, if you know, you know that you feel like you would feel more comfortable with a female therapist or a male therapist or whoever feel free to say I would feel more comfortable seeing this kind of a therapist. If you have a particular issue you want to work on and you would like to have somebody who you feel has experience in that area. It's okay to say I would really like to see someone who has experience working with anxiety or whatever it is that you're coming in for. So feel free to always self advocate. Sometimes depending on you know, therapist availability and your insurance and all these various things, sometimes we have more flexibility with some things than others, but it's always good to ask. Another thing I would say that's really important is to consider being open with the therapist about your anxiety.

Kevin Wallace 9:16 Yeah.

Heather Larrabee 10:12 It's okay to spend some time in therapy talking about being nervous about therapy. Yeah, it really is. And it's, it's good, it's important, because that's helpful for them to know. And I think that it's worth taking a few minutes of time to address those fears and concerns, if it's going to mean helping you feel more at ease.

Kevin Wallace 10:34 Yes.

Heather Larrabee 10:35 So one really good way to start that process is to have a list of specific concerns or questions that, you know, if the therapist could answer these questions, or provide you some reassurance, it might help, you know, reduce that stress and anxiety.

Kevin Wallace 10:51 So you can create your own list, you can start a note section on your phone, or you can write them down in a notebook or on a piece of paper, wherever and you can bring those notes to your session. And you can do it as easy as read them off.

Heather Larrabee 11:08 Absolutely. I know, I love that when my my clients bring me a list. That's great. I'm like, What do we got? Let's let's do it. So. And also, anytime you make a list, the beauty of that is it takes the pressure off you to remember what you want to say or what you want to tell them or what you want to talk about. So.

Kevin Wallace 11:26 Yeah, that's a great point. Because that I mean, even when I think about my own journey with counseling, sometimes I come into it thinking, I wish I would have written down some things from the past week that I could talk about here. But yeah, that so notes definitely are really great things to fall back on that you want to remember what from the weeks prior or whatever from, from your life that you you want to bring in front of your therapist,

Heather Larrabee 11:56 Right. And you actually mentioned, yeah, so not not even just a list about fears and concerns. But also go ahead and write down a list of things that you've been thinking about that you want to talk about, or what it is that you're coming in for symptoms, you've been having, problems that have been going on. All of that's very helpful. And like you said, having, bring in a notebook or something to take notes is also great, because you don't want to leave your your therapy session and be like, "Oh, wait, what was that? I know, we, oh, what was that thing?" You want to be able to apply that information when you leave your session. So anytime you have notes, that's always helpful outside of session. And then the last thing I would I would suggest for easing fears is to be really open with a therapist, if you have had a bad past experience. I would also, you know, really encourage any therapists that are listening to really be intentional about directly asking clients about their past experiences with therapy, sometimes they may not feel comfortable just offering that information, especially if it was a bad experience. But normally, as part of our process, we we want to get information anyway about your treatment history. So that's a great time to take a second and to ask somebody, okay, tell me about that. You know, what was that experience like? Because no matter how they answer, it's great information. If they say, Oh, I had an amazing experience. Wonderful. Tell me what was great about that, what worked for you what was helpful, I want to make sure we do more of that for you. If it was not a good experience, then it's important to be able to say, Okay, what didn't work? Why was this not helpful? What did you need, that you didn't get before? Because I want to make sure you have a different experience and a better experience.

Kevin Wallace 13:54 Great. So let's talk the first session. You get there. What what can you expect to talk about, maybe on your end? What can you expect from your therapist as well, maybe you can go from anywhere from the conversations that you're going to have to what do I need to bring to my first session?

Heather Larrabee 14:16 So I first want to start out by saying that I think for people who've never had therapy before, a lot of times it's interesting to hear what people's expectations are. Sometimes people really base their expectations on things they've seen on TV or in movies. They imagine walking in laying down on a couch or a chaise lounge and a therapist sitting behind them with a clipboard taking all these notes, and well, maybe there are some therapists out there that still do that kind of thing. That's really not I think what most people's approach is.

Kevin Wallace 14:52 A bit outdated, inaccurate.

Heather Larrabee 14:55 it is and so, for anyone who was worried that that's how it's going to be, I would definitely encourage you to, to give therapy a try, because in all likelihood, that is not going to be the way it goes. But typically speaking, the first couple of sessions are a little bit different than sessions that come after that. And there's a few reasons for that. The first few sessions, you're probably going to be asked a lot of questions. And there's going to be some tasks that have to get done. And this is really the case anytime. If you think about anytime you go to the doctor, or any kind of a medical service, you know, pretty much you have to fill out paperwork, you're going to have to sign a consent for treatment, they're going to want to make sure you understand HIPAA and confidentiality and privacy. And then what you're going to do is go through an initial assessment process.

Kevin Wallace 15:54 Okay. Yeah. Okay, let's let's talk about this initial assessment process.

Heather Larrabee 15:57 It sounds very fancy, guys. Yeah, it's really not that fancy. But essentially, the purpose of the initial assessment process, there's a couple of main goals in doing this. The first one is we got to figure out what's going on, you know, and what is this person needing from therapy? And so the way we do that is, we're going to ask you some questions, what led up to you initiating, making the appointment? Are there, you know, what are the problems going on that are impacting that person's quality of life? How long has it been going on? What do they want to be different? What are they hoping to get from the experience? So we're going to be asking a lot of questions that are intended to sort of pinpoint what that person is needing and how we can best help them. Another one of the big tasks involved in the initial assessment process is it's really important that we identify if there are any significant safety concerns that need immediate attention. So these this would be things like if someone is having a lot of suicidal thoughts, if they're feeling like they might want to hurt someone, if they're at risk for victimization in some way, all of these things are very concerning and need to be taken seriously. And, and we would clearly want to make sure we're doing whatever we can to ensure that this person is safe. So that's a really important thing that we need to address very early on. Another thing that's going to happen, maybe not the first session, but early on, is we're going to work on a game plan, we're going to work on a treatment plan. And that's intended to be a collaborative process. It's a partnership between the therapist and the client, where we really pinpoint, what are our goals? And how are we going to get from point A to point B. And so we agree on some objectives, and we figure out what's the best path to get you to where you're wanting to go. And then the last thing that that happens in the first few sessions, ideally, is that in the process of getting all this information, getting to know someone partnering with them on the treatment plan, hopefully, it's also establishing a really good foundation, in terms of the therapeutic relationship. So the hope there is that the person is connecting to the therapist, the therapist getting to know the client. And there's some trust and rapport being built. And that's going to really help establish a really good foundation for future sessions. And so those are with trust.

Kevin Wallace 18:49 Yeah, trust is so important.

Heather Larrabee 18:50 Yes, trust is huge. I mean, the client really needs to feel comfortable and at ease, they need to feel accepted. They need to not be afraid to be honest and say what's going on and but at the same time, it's not reasonable to think that somebody is just going to walk through the door having never met you and just completely 100% be okay.

Kevin Wallace 19:17 Yes.

Heather Larrabee 19:18 Maybe some people are but it's it's more common to build up to that point. And so those first few sessions are really critical in establishing a really good therapeutic connection.

Kevin Wallace 19:36 New Vista is all about providing our communities with valuable resources. MyStrength has a library of tools for stress management, parenting tips, emotional support, and videos and activities to help you live your best life. MyStrength can be downloaded on the App Store, Google Play, it can be accessed on your computer, use New Vista's code "seethegood" for unlimited free access to this excellent resource. I think it's also probably important to note that the therapists don't necessarily have like a magic wand and all your problems just magically go away. This is a, this is the starting point of a very what can be long process for many people, but it is worth that process that will require work. And like you said that honesty and the vulnerability that maybe is very uncomfortable for a lot of people. But

Heather Larrabee 20:31 Yes.

Kevin Wallace 20:32 This is this is important to note that this is going to be a process.

Heather Larrabee 20:35 It is a process, and you said a couple of really good things there that I just want to piggyback on and one is partnership, it is definitely a partnership along the way. You know, the goal of therapy isn't like you said to wave a magic wand therapists don't they're not all knowing people who have all the answers.

Kevin Wallace 20:56 Be cool if they were.

Heather Larrabee 20:57 It would be amazing.

Kevin Wallace 20:59 I'm not sure many people would have that.

Heather Larrabee 21:00 It would be amazing. But I don't want to burst anyone's bubble. That's not what it is. But what it is, is that a way to empower someone to figure out what is best for them. And, and the way we do that, hopefully, is by creating a safe space in which to do that. And so that is why the therapeutic relationship is so critical is because there needs to be a safe space so that there can be that openness and honesty. But they're also, you know, it's a partnership. And it's a collaborative process. And the whole goal is to not establish dependency on the therapist, it's to empower the client to be able to live their best life.

Kevin Wallace 21:51 Yes, exactly. So it will take it will take some work on both ends, but it is work that is well worth it.

Heather Larrabee 21:59 Absolutely. As far as like what to bring, I would say there's a few little things that would help maybe make the process go a little bit smoother, if you're able to do it. One, I would definitely suggest, if possible to always do your paperwork ahead of time. Most of the time, that's going to mean either coming into the office, maybe 30-45 minutes before your appointment to fill it out. If you're going to do telehealth, that's usually going to be sent to you in advance, so you can return that electronically. But it's great to have that already done. So it doesn't cut into your session time.

Kevin Wallace 22:34 Yes.

Heather Larrabee 22:35 It's also good for the therapist to have it sometimes it may cut back a little bit on how much they have to ask you about. So you can spend more time talking about what you want to talk about. Um, I would say bring your insurance information that's going to be really important for us to have. It's also if you have any kind of legal paperwork that would, you know, be relevant to like consenting for treatment, so like guardianship papers, custody agreements, or anything like if you're referred from somewhere where there's a specific goal. So if you're, you know, utilizing social services, if you are part of a drug court program, anything like that, were there specific things that we might need to know from an outside party, it's always good to bring that. And then I would say probably if you're taking any medications, bringing a comprehensive med list is really important. So we know what you're taking what you taken in the past. So that can be helpful. If you if you want to bring records from previous treatment, you're certainly welcome to do that. Although we can always request those later if we need them. But really, those are the main things I would say as far as what to bring.

Kevin Wallace 23:51 Okay, and how long can clients expect to be in a session?

Heather Larrabee 23:56 Oh, that's a great question. So I would say usually, the, and it can depend, most of the time, the first session is going to be about an hour.

Kevin Wallace 24:08 Yeah.

Heather Larrabee 24:09 And really, that initial assessment process can take up to maybe three sessions. And it really does depend on the person and what they have going on and what their needs are. So you do kind of have to sometimes be a little bit patient with us. And just know that the whole point of doing all of that is so we can best serve you. The more information we have, the more we understand your history and the context of what's going on, the better off you know, we are able to meet your needs. Most of the time, sessions are about anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour. They don't have to be and sometimes with kids, they're not going to be as long. Little ones don't always have the same attention span as adults. Right. If there's a child Also, that session might be split a little bit between time with the child and time with the parent. So there's all kinds of possibilities. But for the most part, we try to do what they call a "53 minute hour." But that's not always the case, we're not locked into that. And of course, if at any point in time you decide, "I would like to leave," you are certainly entitled to do that.

Kevin Wallace 25:25 And it sounds like this for the first session, and maybe even like you said, three sessions, you might be doing a lot more of the talking. And it's is that, is that typical for every session? Or will you be talking, you know, more up front? And then doing more listening? I don't know how, how does that go?

Heather Larrabee 25:50 Yeah, that's a great question. So what I would say is the first, you know, couple of sessions where there's a lot of information gathering, it's probably going to be a little back and forth, you know, asking a question, and then you provide information. And there may be some follow up questions about that, or some clarification. And so there might be periods where the clients talking more because they're, you know, sharing kind of what's going on and why they're here. And then there may be times where we're going through a list of questions, and the therapist is having to, to ask some things. So I would say it's kind of back and forth a little bit those first few times. After that, I would say, you know, really, the therapist should not just be dominating the discussion in subsequent sessions. Because this is really about helping the client process and discover and identify, you know, different things. And so really, the therapists job is to ask questions, to generate discussion to help the client be able to reflect on their thoughts, their feelings, their options, weighing things out, really kind of depends on what someone's coming in for. So there's not a perfect answer to that. But I would certainly say that after we get through the initial assessment process, the client should probably be doing more of the talking. But the therapist may be sort of like directing traffic, they're gonna be sort of guiding through that thought process. But really, their job is to listen and to facilitate and to let the client lead where what they're needing into to help with that process.

Kevin Wallace 27:44 Great. Well, that's some very helpful insight into what to kind of expect in that first session. So let's let's also end with maybe some common myths that surround therapy.

Heather Larrabee 27:56 So I would say one of the most common myths is that therapy is really just for serious problems or, you know, severe illnesses. And that's just really not true. Now, you know, obviously, that may be the case and in some situations, but therapy is for anybody.

Kevin Wallace 28:18 Yeah.

Heather Larrabee 28:18 I mean, in truth, I really feel like everybody should probably be in therapy, therapists should have a therapist. Yes. And the reason is, you know, therapy is is not one size fits all. It's very personalized, based on what you are needing. And so sometimes it's, it could be about symptom management, or or you know, some type of illness that a person is having. But other times, it's intended to help you identify solutions to problems in your life or things that you're wanting to make changes. It might be to work through some issues in a relationship, it might be that you have a big decision that you need to make, and you need help kind of sorting through that. It could be that you have some, you know, destructive thought patterns that are causing you a lot of stress and anxiety and that are getting, getting in the way of you being able to do what you want to do. And so a therapist can help you learn how to challenge that and to have different ways of thinking. So really, there, you know, anybody could benefit from therapy in some way.

Kevin Wallace 29:27 Yes.

Heather Larrabee 29:28 Whether it's just needing coping skills or support or, you know, any number of things that don't have anything to do with having a severe illness or some kind of major catastrophic life event.

Kevin Wallace 29:42 Right. And everybody's baggage looks different. But I don't think there is anyone that can go through life without having to carry some kind of baggage or some kind of thing that would wouldn't be worth you know, talking it through a professional with.

Heather Larrabee 30:00 Absolutely, we all have stuff.

Kevin Wallace 30:02 We do.

Heather Larrabee 30:03 We all have stuff, our stuff might be different. Our stuff might affect us differently from person to person, but we all have stuff. And so I certainly would encourage anyone who has been considering therapy, but they've just not taken that next step to really think about giving it a try, because it can be very, very helpful. Another one is, people will say this a lot, they kind of think that therapy is sort of just a pricey substitute for venting to friends. Like, you know, well, I, you know, why would I pay a therapist? You know, I can just go vent to a friend.

Kevin Wallace 30:42 It's a great point yeah.

Heather Larrabee 30:43 Yeah. So and this kind of piggybacks a little, I may have gotten ahead of myself on the last myth, but I do think it kind of goes along with that, in that it isn't just venting. Therapy is a lot more than just just somebody coming in and unloading and venting and a therapist being supportive, that's certainly a therapist should be supportive and would hopefully, provide that need, but therapy really is about change it, it's about helping a person make the changes they need to make in their life to have the best life they can possibly have. And so what that healing process looks like for from one person to the next is different.

Kevin Wallace 31:31 Yes.

Heather Larrabee 31:31 But it is very much about what are active steps that we can take to get you to the place that you're wanting to be, what can we do to overcome any barriers that are keeping you stuck where you are now. So it's not just venting and unloading, that definitely serves a very important purpose in life, whether it's with a friend or a therapist, sometimes you just need to vent. But therapy takes things one step further. And, and, you know, people therapists go to school a really long time to become a therapist, and we get trained in all kinds of different treatment modalities and in different techniques. And depending on what someone is coming in for, you know, we're going to use different approaches. And so those are things though, that the average person who's not gone to school to be a therapist may not necessarily know. So there is that added component of a skill set that is designed to help someone grow and change and to facilitate forward movement.

Kevin Wallace 32:38 Yes, these things take strategic planning, and the strategic plans takes a professional to be able to come up with an implement and pass on to the person in need.

Heather Larrabee 32:52 Yes, and the other piece of that same one that I should probably just mention briefly, people think therapy is super, super expensive. But you might be surprised. Most insurance plans do cover the cost of therapy, as does Medicaid and Medicare. And so people are often surprised to find that their benefits and their coverage for mental health services is much better than they initially thought. And it might not be any more expensive than whatever it would cost you to go see, like, your primary care physician. Obviously, you know, people's plans are different, and you would need to consult your actual specific plan. But most of the time, it's actually pretty affordable. And, and then a lot of places I know certainly New Vista, you know, they they want you to talk to them about what your needs are. And we want to work with anyone to overcome any of those financial obstacles so they can get the help that they need. So yeah, so please don't let that be a barrier to to seeking out services and help if you need it.

Kevin Wallace 33:59 Yes.

Heather Larrabee 33:59 I would say another myth is that therapy, and therapists are all the same. And that's also not true. And this goes back to something we talked about kind of earlier on in the beginning, which is it's important that you have the right fit for you. Therapists do have different styles, they do have a tendency to prefer certain kinds of techniques and approaches and what works for one person may not work for another person. We also are human beings, and we have our own personalities. And so it's really important that you find somebody that you feel a good connection with. And I do think you should give it an honest try, you know, don't just go in once and say, "Oh, I don't want to do this," you know, unless obviously something really, really awful happened. But in general I think that you know, it's good to give it a try. And then if after a few times, you've not really found that right connection with someone, then at that point, it's, it's good to maybe give somebody else a try. So not all therapists are the same. And not all therapy is the same. So depending on what you're coming in for, again, that therapy and that treatment plan, and that therapeutic approach is going to be tailored to what that person needs in particular, that that meets their personal needs.

Kevin Wallace 35:30 Okay. Okay, so to end, what would you say to somebody who, first will say is on the fence about, about this first about scheduling the first counseling session? What would you say to them as advice or word of advice, encouragement to schedule that first session.?

Heather Larrabee 35:51 So I think my word of advice would be this. You know, you're not signing up for something for the rest of your life. If you go and you don't like it, or you don't have a good experience, and it doesn't meet your need, you know, you're no worse off, you don't have to continue. I would hope you would try again with someone else. But I feel like it's worth a shot. I think most of the time, people who are apprehensive, who give it a try, and they overcome that fear, they're happy that they did. It ends up like a lot of things in life, what you imagine in your mind, it ends up not being anything like what what you thought it would be. So I would say try to be generous in your assumptions, and be open to trying it and have the experience before you decide it's something that is not for you.

Kevin Wallace 36:48 Yeah. Last question. What would you say to somebody who is a day or two or at the day of their, their session and they're a nervous wreck, and about to go into their session? What would you say to to ease their nerves?

Heather Larrabee 37:05 Well, what I would say is to keep in mind that, you know, most of the people who go into this profession are pretty kind people, they genuinely care. They genuinely want to help. And, you know, so I think that whether or not it ends up being like the most helpful thing you ever did or not, the likelihood of it just being horrible, is pretty small. And I would just say that your only job is to be yourself, to be yourself, and to be open. And if you're feeling really nervous, and you kind of don't know where to begin, also remember, you know, people therapists are trained to handle those kinds of situations. And if that's the case, they're probably going to take the lead, they're probably going to ask you a lot of the questions like we talked about anyway, they're probably going to need to do that just because they're going to have to do an assessment of things. So probably, you are not going to have as much responsibility as you think you are in being the initiator and everything. So just keep that in mind that they, you know, give them the benefit of doubt that they know what they're doing and that, that they're going to be able to walk you through what needs to happen.

Kevin Wallace 38:28 Great. And also, just remember that you're walking into a safe place where there is so much good ahead for you through these these sessions. So, it's so important to remember, and I know, it might seem very intimidating, especially if this is the first time that you're going into a session. But just know that everything that we've talked about, it is completely normal for you to experience the things that you might be experiencing or feeling going into your first session. But, especially speaking for New Vista, we're here to help you overcome any obstacle that you have in your life, and that you put in front of your therapist. And we are we are so about helping people see the good ahead for their lives. So, Heather, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and wisdom. I think this is just going to be so helpful for people that are about to go into their first counseling session or are thinking about scheduling the first session. So thank you so much for coming on and for your time to share all these thoughts on this.

Heather Larrabee 39:34 Thank you for having me.

Kevin Wallace 39:41 Thank you for joining us in today's episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is brought to you by New Vista. We assist individuals, children and families in the enhancement of their well-being through mental health, substance use and intellectual developmental disability services. We see the good ahead for all individuals in our communities. Again, if you need help, call our 24-Hour Helpline at 1.800.928-8000 or visit our website at www.newvista.org. We hope you enjoyed today's episode, and we'll see you next time