From problems with anxiety to depression to addiction problems, there are many reasons why you might make an appointment with a counselor. So, how long should you expect to wait before your first session? Depending on the counselor, your appointment might arrive in a matter of days. However, in some cases, patients wait a month to six weeks before they meet their therapist face to face.
What are you supposed to do if you find yourself waiting longer than you expected? Are there things you can do to prepare for your upcoming appointment? As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I can attest that yes, there are plenty of things you can be doing while you wait for your appointment. Want to know what they are? Today’s blog covers what to do while you wait for counseling to start.
An easy thing to do while waiting for your counseling appointment is to closely monitor your mental health status. Take note of how you’re feeling each day and write it down in a journal. Not only is this a great way to check in with yourself, but journaling can be used as a jumping-off point for future conversations with your therapist.
I recommend jotting down any information about the symptoms that you’re experiencing or the concerns that you’re bringing into therapy. Sharing data like this with your therapist ensures that you get the most out of your session.
Note: Plenty of my patients bring their journals to their appointments. Doing so ensures that we cover all the events of the previous week, month, etc.
If you find that your symptoms worsen to a point of crisis, you should seek emergency help immediately. This can include (but is not limited to):
If you experience any of the above, call an emergency number (911) or visit the nearest emergency room. If you are not at immediate risk of harming yourself (aka medical intervention is not needed right away), call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988).
If you are struggling with feelings of loneliness, focus on spending time with other people during your wait for counseling to get started. I would recommend joining a club, volunteering at a local nonprofit, or doing things you enjoy with people you enjoy being around. Healthy relationships can help ease symptoms of trauma, so surrounding yourself with friends and family is a great thing to do leading up to your appointment.
Wondering what to do while you wait for counseling? Why not take the time to learn more about therapy and what to expect? If you don’t know where to start, I recommend scrolling through your therapist’s website and reading about their different treatment options. While it might seem trivial, understanding your therapist’s methods and treatments (cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy, etc.) will help to maximize your sessions. I’d also encourage you to check out their blog and read some of the articles they write to get a good feel for them.
Self-care doesn’t have to mean bubble baths and face masks and eating ice cream on the couch. (Or it could mean those things!) Regardless, you should be taking extra care of yourself while you’re waiting for therapy. Of course, self-care means different things to different people, so it’s important to figure out what it represents for you. Building good habits and routines is especially important for your mental health.
Drawing a blank? Here are some popular self-care practices you could try:
Before your first appointment, I encourage you to think about what it is you want to get out of therapy. Treatment is always more effective when both parties have an idea of what they want to accomplish. For that reason, you should share your goals with your counselor, and you can work on tracking your progress together.
If you have any questions about your symptoms, treatment, or therapist, now is a good time to write them down. Not only will such questions provide clarity regarding your treatment plan, but they will make sure your therapist is the right fit for you. Some examples of questions you might want to ask your therapist include:
Our bodies carry around our trauma. Therefore, taking care of your physical health can help calm your nervous system and ease your mind. Again, this process is going to look different for everybody, so I recommend doing something that feels right to you. This could be anything from eating healthy to getting a therapeutic massage to something else entirely. After all, stress can have a lot of effects on your body.
Wondering what to do while you wait for counseling? If your appointment is taking longer than expected, I hope that some of these strategies will help you pass the time. Of course, if your waiting time seems excessive and/or unbearable, it might be in your best interest to schedule an appointment with another counselor.
Fort Wellness Counseling is home to one of the top-rated therapists in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Providing patient-centered care, we’re able to treat symptoms of anxiety, depression, codependency, mental disorders, and more. We understand that every patient arrives at our door with a different journey, so we use an individualized approach to accomplish long-term change. After all, shouldn’t your therapy be catered towards your specific and individual needs? At Fort Wellness Counseling, we help you to become the best version of yourself and help you thrive.
Are you ready to learn the skills and techniques to overcome your burden? Our team of professionals is here to help. You can schedule a counseling appointment easily.