I love the first counseling session with a new student. You get to introduce yourself as an encouraging, safe adult that is going to help and support them. It’s the place that you establish norms, build rapport, and involve the student in their own growth. That’s a pretty incredible day’s work.
Until I realized, I was mostly just using the first counseling session to introduce myself, tell them what my job was and ask a few questions. My first sessions were not climbing that aspirational mountain I had in my head. Worse, it was costing me valuable time with students down the line because I had not set the stage I should have set in the first session.
I don’t like when I find myself doing a task without knowing the purpose or losing valuable time. So I asked myself, “What did I want that first session to accomplish?”. I wanted it to:
- Build rapport
- Create a safe, predictable place
- Encourage student involvement in their progress in counseling