How to Prepare for Your First Online Counselling Session

Embarking on the journey of online counselling can feel like stepping into uncharted territory.

With the digital age flourishing, therapy sessions have transcended the traditional face-to-face setup, embracing the convenience and flexibility of the online world.

In the lead-up to your first online counselling session, you might be feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness.

This guide aims to equip you with the essential preparations, ensuring that your online assessment therapy session is as smooth and beneficial as possible.

Why Online Counselling?

The last few years have witnessed a significant shift towards online counselling, driven by advancements in technology and undoubtedly the global pandemic.

This mode of therapy offers the unique advantage of accessibility, making professional help available to those in remote areas or those with busy schedules that make traditional therapy sessions challenging to attend.

Benefits Over Traditional Therapy

One of the most compelling benefits of online counselling is its convenience.

There’s no need to worry about commuting; you can speak to your therapist from the comfort of your own home.

Moreover, feeling safe in your own environment means that online counselling provides a situation that can make opening up about personal issues feel less daunting.

It also offers access to a broader selection of therapists, ensuring you can find someone whose expertise and approach align perfectly with your needs.

person speaking to counsellor on ipad

Choosing the Right Platform and Therapist

Researching Platforms

Start by exploring reputable online counselling platforms.

Look for experienced counsellors with additional training in providing online therapy, to ensure confidentiality and privacy are a priority.

Finding the Right Therapist

The therapeutic relationship is crucial for effective therapy.

Take your time to read through therapists’ profiles, paying attention to their areas of specialisation, therapeutic techniques, and personal statements.

Many platforms offer a matching service or initial consultations, helping you find the therapist best suited to your needs.

Take advantage of free initial consultations to make sure that the therapist is a ‘good fit’ for you. This is an important relationship and worth taking time over.

Preparing Technically

Ensuring a Good Internet Connection

A stable internet connection is crucial for uninterrupted sessions. Test your connection beforehand, and if possible, use a wired connection or sit close to your Wi-Fi router during the session.

Hardware and Software Requirements

Ensure your computer or device is equipped with a functioning webcam and microphone.

Download any necessary software or applications in advance, and familiarise yourself with their operation to avoid technical difficulties during your session.

Turn off any notifications on your device so that you won’t be distracted or disturbed.

Charge your device beforehand and have charging cables to hand in case you need them.

Setting Up Your Space

Find a quiet and private space where you won’t be disturbed.

Good lighting and a comfortable seating arrangement can also make the session more pleasant.

Consider using headphones for better sound quality and privacy.

Preparing Mentally and Emotionally

Setting Goals

Reflect on what you hope to achieve through counselling.

Writing down your goals, questions, or concerns can provide clarity and direction, helping you make the most of your sessions.

Your counsellor should explore your goals with you during your initial assessment session and then review these periodically to ensure you are heading in the ‘right direction’.

What to Expect

Your first session will likely involve discussing your background, current issues, and what you wish to accomplish through therapy.

Remember, it’s normal to feel nervous about opening up, but your therapist is there to support you, not judge.

There may also be some online forms to be completed ahead of the session and some therapists utilise tick-box assessment tools.

man speaking to counsellor on zoom

Tips for a Successful Session

Communication Tips

Speak clearly and take your time to articulate your thoughts.

If you do not understand, don’t hesitate to repeat or rephrase.

Remember, it’s a collaborative effort, and your therapist is there to guide the conversation as needed.

Likewise, if you don’t understand or catch something the counsellor says, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

After the Session

Take some time to reflect on the session. Jotting down any insights or feelings that emerge can be helpful for future sessions.

Consider any tasks or exercises your therapist suggested and think about how you can incorporate them into your life if you choose to.

Online Counselling with Debbie Kelly

Preparing for your first online counselling session might seem daunting, but with the right preparations, it can be a rewarding experience.

By choosing the right platform and therapist, ensuring your technical setup is sound, and mentally preparing for the journey ahead, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Online counselling offers a flexible, accessible way to work on your mental health, and with these tips, you’re ready to make the most of this opportunity.

Approach your first session with an open mind and a readiness to explore your thoughts and feelings.

Here’s to taking that all important first step towards better mental health!

And if you think now is a good time for you to seek help in this form, then get in touch with me today and we can set up an initial consultation to learn more about each other.

Debbie Kelly MSc is an experienced counsellor offering telephone and online counselling. She works with clients experiencing life challenges concerning anxiety, depression, work stress, grief and bereavement, relationship difficulties and miscarriage/pregnancy loss.