James Madison University

What to expect during CounselingPHOTO: Counseling Session

First appointment

Counseling begins with an initial appointment where you will be interviewed for approximately 1 – 2 hours about yourself and the reason(s) you have decided to seek services at CAPS. The information you provide during the initial appointment will be used to help you and your clinician make decisions about goals and direction for your work together. During your initial appointment you may be asked questions about your life experiences, family of origin, and personal issues.

Although talking about personal and private matters can be difficult it is important to be as open and honest about your life experiences as you can. If it is difficult to discuss some personal matters be sure to let your clinician know about this. Your clinician can help find ways to talk about difficult or embarrassing issues.

Ongoing appointments

After your initial appointment you and your clinician will develop a plan for your work together. These plans have specific goals to accomplish and a time-frame for the process. Over the course of your work together you and your clinician will evaluate progress toward your goals and make any adjustments or changes to your plan. During your work together, it is important for you to share your thoughts and feelings about the process with your clinician. Counseling can be hard work and you may experience a variety of thoughts and feelings about the process. Your thoughts and feelings are crucial aspects of your work and sharing these with your clinician can help guide the process.

Ending Counseling

Over the course of your work together you and your clinician will continually assess your progress. Together you and your clinician will decide how long to work together and when to end counseling.

Additional information about psychotherapy is available from the American Psychological Association or American Counseling Association