What to Expect During Your First Grief Counseling Session
Have you recently suffered the loss a loved one or gone through a divorce? I understand this is a difficult time; your whole world is upside down and you may not even feel like yourself anymore. Most people dealing with these types of situations would benefit from grief counseling. Mental health therapy is designed to provide a safe outlet where you can talk with a professional and acquire strategies to process your grief. Please understand that you aren't going to get through this loss quickly or without experiencing the feelings of mourning and loss. It is possible to repress the feelings by compartmentalizing them and focusing on other things, but this delays your mental and emotional healing. The individual mending process can feel more attainable with professional intervention. You can trust me to counsel you at your own pace as you come to terms with this life-changing event.
Considerations Before You Schedule an Appointment
This is a dark time, and it is normal to move through all the stages of grief at your own pace. There are five stages commonly associated with grief, and each stage of grief can take days, weeks, or months to move past; do not try to rush yourself through the grieving process. It is also possible to get trapped in one of the stages and feel hopeless about moving forward. That is a good sign you need expert assistance with processing your emotions. Below are the five stages of grief:
Take Time to Mourn
In the bereavement period, you must adjust to this sudden loss. Please expect to advance through four steps of mourning:
- Acceptance of the loss that has happened
- Working through the emotions related to your loss
- Restructuring your life without the deceased person in it
- Finding ways to keep the memory of this cherished person alive
In addition to these stages of mourning, you deserve to feel positive about life again. It's important to build new relationships and give attention to others who build you up, so you always have the support system essential to happiness and balance. No one in your life can provide the right amount of reassurance that you will feel better after losing a loved one. It takes time, inner strength, self-awareness, new experiences, and strong relationships to conquer grief. Take things one day at a time, and see if Mary can help. It's hard to let other people get close to you or share your feelings while you process grief.
What to Expect in Your First Session
There are two types of appointments that might help adults who have suffered a recent loss. You need a practitioner who provides a place for you to talk a few times about loss. Or, you might face a complex grief situation that requires psychotherapy. These are different clinical needs, and they call for separate counseling strategies. Your trusted psychotherapist will seek to understand the situation you are in to prepare for your first session and schedule the appropriate amount of time for therapy.
Focus on Your Needs
There are times in life when you need to focus on others, and there are times when your mental health should take priority. Surviving loss is one of those times when you must put yourself first. When we sit down, we will discuss the purpose of your grief counseling session and what treatment plan or therapeutic approach will best fit your present needs. All this typically happens before and during your first appointment.
Typical Conversations During Grief Therapy
You must be at a certain stage of processing grief and in the second or third stage of mourning to begin restoring your mental health. Before that can happen, work with a therapist. Here are typical questions and conversations that can occur in the first session:
- What happened to the deceased person?
- What was your relationship with the deceased person?
- How are the plans shaping up for the funeral or memorial service?
- How has your life (i.e. your mental or emotional state) been since the funeral?
- Who do you have to talk to about your feelings?
- How are your relatives or friends dealing with this loss?
- Has your living arrangement been displaced?
You may find it hard to open up to a therapist at the first meeting. However, this is where my clients let emotions out and talk about the concerns that bother them most. The goal of therapy is to reach a point where you can start eating and sleeping right and finding joy in life. It takes time to move past the feelings of sadness and depression that overwhelm you when someone departs this life.
Staying Positive During Grief Therapy
- Grief can be overpowering. Put what you're feeling into words.
- It is okay to cry during the therapy session. Don't feel embarrassed about your deepest emotions.
- It helps to write down things that you wish to discuss.
- It is possible to feel panic or anxiety because there are setbacks during the individual grieving process. This is when you reach out to a counselor and your friends or relatives for support.
- With time, you should expect to feel better and create a new normal.