What happens in trauma counselling?
It took me three weeks from finding the counsellor who I thought could help me, to finally picking up the phone to call her. I had never been to see a therapist before so I had images in my head of sitting in front of someone with a clipboard who would be saying very little to me, aside from random “hhhmmmmm”s and “uhuh”s while she scribbled words of judgement onto her paper. Yes, it was the judgement that I feared most. Would she think I was crazy? Or making it up? Or unfit to be a mother? I really had no idea what was going to happen. But I knew I needed to speak to someone. So I made the call, booked the session, then began the long wait for my appointment to roll around.
I remember being greeted at her door, and welcomed into a beautiful room then felt warm and inviting. She showed me where to sit, then she took her seat in front of me.
Instantly I felt relief.
I just knew that this wasn’t going to be anything like what I had feared. And it wasn’t. I left that session feeling heard and feeling held.
Which now, all these years later, is exactly what I want for my client who are brave enough to wade through the fear to make it to their first counselling session with me – for you to be heard and held.
So, what can you expect to happen in our first session together? Let me share with you every detail.
When we meet for the first time, whether it be in-person in my Success or Bedfordale trauma counselling rooms, or online, you will meet ME, without any image or pretence of what a counsellor or therapist ‘should’ be. We might spend a moment with small talk while you get your bearings and settle yourself into my space. I will usually explain to you the purpose of that session, being solely for you to decide if I’m the right fit for you – reassuring you that if you don’t feel that I am, it’s ok! That it’s so important to me that you do find someone who you feel is the right fit for you in order for you to heal and grow. And that if you do decide I resonate, then we will formulate a path moving forward, together.
From there I explain my approach to trauma counselling – where I sit outside of the medical model, but will bring to the table many therapeutic approaches as needed to help you move from where you are now to where you’d prefer to be. I also explain my role as your therapist, and my obligations to you. And your role as my client – to show up with your truth and authenticity so that you may welcome change. We then may talk about how this all sits with you.
From this point onward, the conversation flows to where it needs to go, with my guidance if needed. It’s so important to note that the counselling room needs to always be a safe space for you – so it does not need to be a space where you must bare all details in the first session. If there is something you wish to hold private, then please do so. There will be time and space for it to emerge when you’re ready.
For some clients, they may share what brought them to trauma counselling, for example a specific event. For others, they may share what they’re currently experiencing, even if they can’t connect it to an event. And some may not know what brought them to therapy. It’s all ok! We talk informally and organically until we get an idea of what is happening for you now, and what it could look and feel like when that is resolved.
That feeling becomes our goal.
With that goal in mind we can then talk about what it may look like to get you there. We won’t always know in that session, but we can talk about it. We may put short term strategies in place for coping now, while we develop a longer term plan for resolution (such as the use of EMDR therapy). Either way, you will leave that session knowing that change is possible, and your situation is not stagnant any longer.
You won’t feel judged. You won’t feel awkward. You won’t feel exposed or vulnerable.
You will feel heard. You will feel held. You will feel hopeful. And you will feel relief.
Please reach out if this post connects with you and what you need from counselling. I would love to speak with you.
My name is Fiona Rogerson and I am an ACA accredited trauma and perinatal Perth counsellor and Hypnobirthing (Mongan Method) Educator. I work with women and men to overcome emotional and psychological hurdles surrounding traumatic experiences, as well as conception, pregnancy, postpartum, parenting and identity. I am also available to provide professional development training and workshops to various organisations. I am based south of the river in Perth, in Success and Bedfordale, also working online. To work with me, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0402 017 425 or message via my contact page.