Your first session should take about 90 minutes and will involve only some paperwork, as we work to preserve as much time as possible to start the real work.
The most important task in the first session is for you to get a feeling or a sense of how it will be working with me. A good thing to ask yourself is if you are going to be able to be honest with yourself while talking to me, and if you are going to feel respected and supported properly for what you need to accomplish. I am not offended by clients preferring another person for specific reasons (gender, age, location) or more general reasons (fit, feelings, or just because). If you are serious about making your life better, it is worth it to leave treatment that does not fit with you personally. That being said, I've found that I work well with a broad range of people from many sorts of backgrounds and experiences.
My job during the first session is to help you get a concrete idea about what you want to get out of therapy and how you are going to go about doing that. I also will ask a lot of questions regarding your past medical and mental health history as well as specific questions about substance (drug & alcohol) use and previous psychological treatment. This information is most easily completed through my online intake process, but we can do it in person as well.
I recommend that you spend some time deciding how much you are going to share and when you are going to share it. Counselors like to pretend that clients are always completely honest, but quite often it just isn't realistic to expect real people to share real emotions and experience with someone they met only that day or only a few times. That's understandable and fits right into the method of treatment I follow. My job is to help you start working on your identified problem right away, with the information you are able to share at that time.
Near the end of the session we will check in to see how it is going so far. This is your time to be honest about how you feel it would be working with me. If you decide to make another appointment, we will do so and I will probably ask you to fill out some forms either online or on paper before the next time we meet.