IMPORTANT NOTE: Not all experiences will be the same, even if you're visiting the exact same counselor. In general I am sure many of them will be similar but I doubt any 2 experiences could ever be the same
Continuing on with the theme of sharing my experiences, I'm going to try and explain/describe my first session with my counselor.
I arrived pretty early because it was dark and rainy outside and I was quite nervous, I likened it to the feeling of waiting for a job interview. A friend of mine said it reminded him of heading out for your first date with someone, you decide which is more appropriate for you. I did have thoughts about leaving and emailing to tell her "something came up" and "I would reschedule" because I felt like perhaps I was blowing things out of proportion. Maybe I don't actually need to speak to someone, I just need to "toughen up". I decided to just follow through with the appointment, I'd already come this far. I got to the door and decided to turn around again and head for the lobby to wait there when she came around the corner and welcomed me in. I hadn't even introduced myself yet, so either she was guessing who I was or it was really obvious that I was that nervous
She was super welcoming and I was offered some water and my choice of seat and we began our chat. She explained that she is somebody who thinks visually, so as I spoke she would be taking notes and drawing diagrams. She also explained that she was a software developer, QA and BA earlier on in her life so if I wanted to make reference to the technical nature of my work she would understand. She also explained that she isn't going to ask me to lie down on the couch and ask me what happened when I turned 3 years old and how it made me feel, which again made me chuckle and put me more at ease. She wanted to focus on more recent events and if there were earlier things in life we needed to talk about then we'd go there.
Someone recently gave me a piece of advice: "The more information you give, the more the counselor can help you", so when she asked me how things were going and I decided to give her a recap of the last 3 years of my life. This covered everything from our Immigration through until today, all at a high level of course. While I was explaining things she would ask clarifying questions, things like whether I had a family, how old my kids are, whether we knew anyone here before we moved over. All the while she continued to make notes and draw boxes around keywords. I loved the fact that she didn't hide her diagram from me, everything was open.
Essentially she gave me the freedom to just talk and list all the highlights and lowlights from the last 3 years. She is very much an active listener.
Once I had finished she asked me a few more questions to try get clarity with a few things, questions like: "What prompted the move to NZ?", "Why New Zealand?", "In your role at work, do you find yourself more attracted to the technical work, or the people around you?", "How much sleep do you get? Is it quality sleep?" Some more sketching was done and then she ran through her sketch notes with me.
We had a brief discussion about the areas she felt we needed to work on and how we could go about that and whether that was something I wanted to get out of our sessions together. It felt very similar to one on one conversations I've had with my managers here at Xero over the last 3 years. She also made it very clear that she would not be offended if I was not comfortable continuing the sessions with her, and she stressed that finding a counselor that I was comfortable with was vitally important. I had already made up my mind by that point though that I was more than comfortable with her.
I left the building almost an hour after walking into it. When I walked in it was dark and pouring with rain. When I walked out there were blue skies and sunshine. I appreciated how Wellington decided to mirror my mood that day. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz9UItznxV9/
Now I'm going to go on a short holiday with my family to rest and recharge. I hope this has been useful for you!