We rarely value what is free. If we are offered something for nothing, we often think there must be a catch, or that it’s not worth having. After all, why would someone give something away and receive nothing in return?
At Harborough Young People’s Counselling I always offer a free 20-minute consultation at Archway Health and Wellbeing. In fact, I’d be very reluctant to take on a new client without a free meeting. So, why is the 20-minute consultation so important?
Giving young people a choice
I always start by explaining the main purpose of the consultation as I see it – which is the chance for us to meet, to learn a little about each other and get the feel of whether we would like to work together. Young people have so many choices made for them, but this is a choice that they need to make for themselves. As people, we don’t connect with everyone, and that element of connection is so important in counselling.
It’s a tough thing to do if you’re a child or young person; to walk into a room and talk to a stranger about some of your darkest thoughts, fears and worries. You have to have some level of trust in the person sitting in front of you. And it’s not just trust in terms of confidentiality, but also that this person will listen without judgement. That they are able to offer a quiet, secure space where you can feel safe and listened to.
The initial 20-minute meeting enables a young person to decide if I’m a person that they can trust and feel safe with. I always emphasise in every consultation that there’s no obligation to come back and that both the young person and parent (if relevant) should go away, discuss and think about it. Of course, 20 minutes isn’t very long, but young people are often shrewd judges of character – they tend to know very quickly if a counsellor is right for them.
The 20-minute consultation also gives me a chance to find out a little about why the young person is there. Sometimes they don’t know; or they might not want to be there at all. They may feel angry or ashamed, or embarrassed. Sometimes it’s their idea to come and they are eager speak; sometimes they are crippled by shyness. The 20-minute consultation helps to ‘break the ice’ a little – so if the young person decides to return for counselling, we already know a little about each other.
A great stepping stone
Taking the first step in accessing counselling can be a daunting decision for everyone concerned. Often the young person has no idea what to expect from counselling, so the consultation can provide a less frightening stepping stone. Knowing what to expect makes most situations less threatening and so I also use the session to explain a little about confidentiality, how I work and what they can expect from counselling.
If you are interested in booking a free consultation at my practice in Market Harborough, call 01858 410 820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – and take the first step to better mental health today.
Supporting children and young people with counselling in Market Harborough, Northamptionshire, and Leicestershire.