“I am an orphan. Both my parents have died.” That’s what a client recently told me. I had the exact same feelings when my mother died two years ago. My father preceded her five years earlier. Read more
Have you ever wondered what happens in the first counseling session? I thought you might, so I wrote this article about it.
The first session is an assessment, not counseling per se. I need to get to know you before jumping into the counseling phase. I ask a lot of questions and listen closely to your answers. I want to understand you as a unique individual. You may also ask me questions to determine if we are a good fit.
1. I’ll review your intake questionnaire with you and get a crystal clear picture of your goals.
2. We’ll discuss where you are now and what past factors are affecting your current life. This will take more than one session, but I want to get an overview in the first session. We won’t have time to go into lots of details.
3. We look at the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
4. We begin to design a plan for moving from “here” to “there.” Here’s an analogy: If you were going to build a house, you would begin with a blueprint. We start designing the blueprint in the first session. It often takes more than one session to create the blueprint. If the plan is not prepared adequately, the success of the project will be inefficient and more likely to fail. I ask for your patience during this phase. This is the first step to help you achieve your goals.
5. We’ll talk about what has worked and what has not worked in the past so I can help you more efficiently.
6. You’ll tell me how you cope with stressors so I can help you respond more effectively.
7. I’ll begin to learn about your personality and help you understand yourself better.
8. We’ll start to build rapport, the most essential element in the counseling relationship.
9. At the end of the first meeting, we will both determine if we feel like we are a good match. If not, I’ll do my best to give you referrals.
10. If we both choose to proceed, I’ll gather more information in the second session. If we are finished reviewing your intake questionnaire, we’ll develop a treatment plan. We are still in the planning stage so please be patient. After the “blueprint” is completed, we’ll jump into the counseling phase.
If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to address them. I like to have open communication. No question is too small. I want to serve you in the best way possible so I need to know what you are thinking, feeling and wanting.
These situations are not a good fit for me. I’ll do my best to give you referrals.
• Alcohol and/or drug abuse
• Current domestic violence
• Suicidal or homicidal ideation or attempts
• Severe mental illness
• Borderline personality disorder
• Untreated bipolar disorder
*** I do not work with clients who are involved with legal cases where I may be asked to submit my records or to testify in court. I do not write reports to justify absence from work, nor do I write disability reports, workman’s compensation reports or legal reports of any kind. I do not work with child custody cases.
Click here to read about my ideal clients for individual counseling.
Click here to read about couples counseling.
I hope this article has answered most of your questions about what to expect in the first session. I’m here to help you create the most meaningful and fulfilling life possible.
If you’d like a complimentary 10-minute phone call to see if we are a good fit, please click here to complete the Contact Form.
Benita A. Esposito, MA is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Blairsville and Atlanta, Georgia. She is also a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in North Carolina, and she offers life coaching and spiritual counseling around the globe. She counsels adults who experience anxiety, stress, trauma, PTSD and grief. Specializations include highly sensitive people and couples counseling.
Click here for credentials.
- We’ll share struggles and concerns.
- You’ll receive emotional support and empathy from listening ears.
- You’ll learn tools to help you grow emotionally and spiritually.
- We’ll pray for each other and the world as we seek God’s guidance.
- We’ll share blessings in disguise.
How Join this Free Zoom Meeting
Expanded Counseling Services During Covid-19
This is a semi-private intensive retreat. October 3-4, 2020
Early bird discount: Save $25 by August 3, 2020.
Excavate and express your radiant Authentic Self …
the person God meant you to be.
Maximum of 6 participants. Register now to insure your seat.
Venue: Young Harris, Georgia USA
Unresolved emotional wounds decrease our ability to create fulfilling relationships and a meaningful career. They contribute to stress, dis-ease, anxiety and depression. But the good news is, you can heal.
Who Should Attend? Adults. Singles and couples are welcome.
Prerequisites: 3 private sessions for new clients must be completed at least one month before the retreat. Please apply now to get started with your private sessions if you are a new client. Complete the Contact Page for a complimentary10-minute get-acquainted phone chat to see if we are a good fit.
Why Attend this Retreat?
Relationship issues: Do you get emotionally triggered when you have conflicts and it takes a long time to recover? Wish your relationships were more fulfilling? Do you find yourself repeating unwanted patterns?
Spirituality: Do you get thrown off-center when things don’t go your way? Do you want to feel whole all the time, no matter what people do?
Mindset and Mood: Do limiting thoughts and “monkey-mind chatter” generate anxiety or depression? Do you procrastinate, hoping conflicts will just go away?
Health: Do you experience physical illness or pain? Do you suspect that unhealed emotional wounds may be a contributing factor?
Career: Do you want to create a meaningful career where you can be your Authentic Self? Do you sense the creative reservoir within, but you don’t fully express your gifts in the world?
Work-Life Balance: Do you find yourself being so busy that you have trouble finding enough time for your loved ones and down-time for yourself?
If you answered “yes” to many of these questions, I want you to know that you don’t have to continue to suffer. This retreat can help you make deep core changes … more than you think is possible in one weekend.
“I just wanted to thank you again for hosting such a wonderful and inspirational weekend retreat. I continued to ride the wave all the way home! As I reflected on one of the weekend’s more intense moments I found myself crying tears of despair, but they were instantaneously transformed into tears of joy as I instinctively felt comfort from the Divine. Thanks to your guidance, I now know how to access the healing, the answers, the wisdom and the love.” ~B.M., Computer Programmer
This retreat will help you …
Raise your relationships, career, health and spirituality to a whole new level of fulfillment.
Receive insights so compelling that you naturally flow into effective action instead of getting bogged down in self-defeating patterns.
Experience rigorous yet gentle leadership so you stop procrastinating and effectively reach your goals.
Allow God’s love to heal you and release wave after wave of creativity. Bask in the sweetness of spiritual intimacy, drawing ever closer to God. Enjoy accelerated healing in the beauty of our mountain lake.
- You’ll transform life patterns that no longer serve you.
- You’ll heal emotional wounds so you can create what is most meaningful in your life.
- You’ll be better equipped to create flourishing relationships.
- You’ll connect with your Authentic Self and God so you can feel whole all the time.
- You’ll develop self-compassion so you accept yourself right where you are, flaws and all.
- You’ll learn skills to reduce physical and emotional pain. Your body will feel safer to unwind and relax. You’ll heal faster.
- You’ll experience the sweetness of spiritual intimacy and unconditional love in a group of like-hearted companions. Feeling safe helps you open up.
Last night while soaking in the hot tub, I had a mental slideshow of past retreats and how transformative they’ve been for me. For many years there’s been a deep ache inside of me because my father didn’t affirm me. This unresolved pain caused great difficulty with my romantic relationships. During the breathwork session at the last retreat, while I was in a dreamy state, I appeared as a radiant bride and my Dad finally gave me the adoration I have wanted all my life. Now six months later, I still feel the love that was planted in me during that retreat. What a priceless journey, worth more than gold! – T.H, Entrepreneur
What Makes This Retreat So Powerful?
This retreat is a safe place for you to dive deep into emotional healing so you can experience major transformation in a compressed time.
Private counseling sessions of 50 minutes don’t allow for this kind of deep healing. You have an entire weekend to heal layer after layer. Your Authentic Self will shine so much more brightly.
You will benefit from my four decades of professional counseling expertise, but the most powerful healer is the Holy Spirit.
This retreat is custom-tailored to the small group of 4-6 participants.
–>If you’d like to see if this retreat is a good fit for you, please complete the Contact Form for a complimentary 10-minute get-acquainted phone chat. I look forward to hearing from you.
Location: A home overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and Lake Chatuge. Bordered by the Chattahoochee National Forest. Young Harris, GA. Two hours from Atlanta, Chattanooga and Asheville.
*** If you are allergic to cats, tell me know before you apply so we can discuss if this retreat is appropriate for you.
“As we closed the retreat, I felt, probably for the first time in my life, a deep grief that I would be leaving a group of people that meant so much to me. It’s rare for me to have a deep desire to continue to be a part of new people’s lives, and have them be a part of mine. This is one of the gifts that I received this past weekend. My path in life has been a solitary one, and I mostly liked it that way, but at the same time I felt lonely, isolated, and different. I never before realized how much I wanted to share myself with others, and to share their path and their experience.” E.W., Software Development Consultant
Retreat Activities. You will complete a questionnaire two to three weeks before the retreat telling me exactly what you want to experience in this retreat. I will design processes to meet your specific needs. The agenda remains fluid throughout the retreat so that everyone’s goals are met.
There will be several types of experiential learning formats that facilitate deep transformation:
(1) I will coach one person while the group learns vicariously. Group members learn more than they ever thought possible by observing someone else being coached. We have Q&A sessions to answer all your questions.
(2) Several people with similar issues will participate in a transformational process simultaneously.
(3) We will have at least one long Breathwork session. Breathwork is my most effective tool for generating deep spiritual-psychological-emotional-physical transformation.
Note: Read all these pages before you apply. Breathwork is an intense transformational process. That’s why it is important that you read all the following posts before inquiring about the retreat.
(4) Short lectures, written exercises, hand-outs, movement to music, mindfulness, deep breathing, relaxation, body-awareness activities, and didactic conversations.
“I had never really even entertained the idea of doing a retreat. Scared me to death. This time I had some help coaxing me to go, but I knew I would do it anyway. Once my spirit decided it was the place to be, then it was so powerful that I had to surrender. So far it’s been one life changing experience after another. Right now I am flying. Can you tell? I mean high! I feel like running up this path barefooted if I have to. What an amazing life I have!” – V.S., Psychotherapist
Agenda: Saturday and Sunday
Arrive at 9:00-9:15am *
Group 9:30am – 12:30pm
Break 12:30 – 2:30pm
Group 2:30 – 5:30pm
Saturday evening: group dinner
Please be flexible on the ending time Sunday to accommodate the needs of the group.
We will take one long break during the afternoon to walk at the lake, meditate, nap or deepen friendships. It’s your choice.
This semi-private retreat consists of 4-6 people. If we have 4 people, we will meet five hours on Sunday, instead of six hours.
Note: Every retreat is different and is designed to meet the needs of the specific participants. Some people attend retreats for several years, deepening their growth and renewing friendships with other participants.
“My cheek muscles have been sore since I returned from the retreat. Could this be from smiling so much that it hurts? I have to say, when I left the retreat I had some good gut wrenching cries of loss and now…. wow, I do believe that joy is here. I am walking around singing, laughing, and just having fun with myself. I want to spread this around to everyone.”- M.F., Technical Trainer
Benita is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Christian healer with four decades experience. I respect all spiritual paths that advocate love and respect for life.
Want a preview of my work?
Click here to watch my book video: The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self.
“By working with Benita Esposito over the last eight years in one-on-one and in group settings, I have deeply explored the outer reaches of consciousness, and the inner depths of my body-mind-soul-emotions. Via strong empathetic connection with me, Benita has intuitively guided me and coached me through issues so I can create healthy personal and business relationships. I benefit most from group retreats where there is a mixture of people’s energies. The extended time to work on things is crucial to digging deep and making major changes, while the beautiful Nature settings give me the soothing arena I need to process the experiences. Jump at the chance to be involved in a retreat as often as possible – that is my recommendation. If a retreat doesn’t suit you, choose another format. It is an honor and a privilege to have Benita as the co-creator of my true destiny and journey towards my Authentic Self.” ~ L.S., Software Engineer
Tuition includes Saturday night dinner.
$595.00 for two full days.
Early Bird Discount: Save $25.00 by August 3, 2020.
Space is limited to 6 people. Register now to save your seat. Tickets will sell out quickly. Meals and lodging are on your own.
***Register early because you must fulfill the prerequisites. Email me via the Contact Page and tell me you want to apply for this retreat.
Remember this Prerequisite:
New clients must have at least 3 private sessions. This can be in-person, on the phone or video-conference. Retreats are profound and intense. I need to make sure you are prepared and that the retreat will be a good fit for you. Please inquire about the fee for these private sessions. Contact me.
List of hotels and restaurants. Book your hotel early. Space fills up quickly because of the Fall leaf season in the mountains.
All refund requests must be made via email. Complete the contact form.
• 30 or more days before the retreat, there will be a full refund minus a $50 processing fee.
• No refunds 0 – 29 days before the retreat, but you may apply your fee to private sessions or another retreat within 1 year, minus a $50 fee.
Facilitator’s Cancellation Policy
If an event must be cancelled due to unforeseen events (such as the weather or illness of the facilitator) the event will be rescheduled. Every attempt will be made to accommodate a new date that will suit your needs. If that is not possible, you may apply your tuition to another event of your choice within one year or apply your fee to private sessions.
“When you polish your facet of the diamond, the whole diamond glows more brilliantly.” ~ Benita A. Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor
I’m writing to men here. But if you are a woman who is married, dating or engaged, you’ll probably want to read this, too. Give him a gentle nudge to read it. Read more
I’m posting Elaine’s evaluation from our weekend retreat, “Your Authentic Life”, on April 2013 where we did two Breathwork sessions. When Elaine did her inner child healing, it yielded a surprising unexpected result. Her 20-year eating disorder was healed. Elaine gave me permission to publish her evaluation form. Read more
Story #1. Laura’s Chronic Shoulder Pain
Laura didn’t think the pain in her right shoulder would ever go away since the injury in 1994, so she didn’t even try to heal it. That was not the intended focus of this breathwork session that took place in 2002. Read more
Visit the Events Page for all the retreat updates. Breathwork may be offered virtually via zoom during the pandemic.
While weekly therapy sessions help sustain steady growth, sometimes this may be too slow for you. If you are eager to make faster progress, I’d like to tell you about a technique that creates breakthroughs better than any method I know.
From the time we were children, our parents taught us how to behave in our family and in society. That’s a good thing when it leads to high-esteem that is coupled with skills to get along well with others.
However, most of my S.M.A.R.T. clients don’t enter adulthood bubbling over with self-worth.
We’re hard workers, but during conflict we may not know how to take care of our selves and meet others’ needs.
We’ve been taught that we should …
1) excel and be conscientious,
2) care about what the neighbors think,
3) stop being selfish and self-centered.
That’s good parenting, don’t you agree?
I agree to some extent, but not when it means losing our sense of identity.
When we think about others much more than we care about ourselves, it leads to unhealthy decisions. We work too much. We over-commit to our favorite causes. We feel guilty if we say ‘no’ when others ask us to help.
In the beginning we may have plenty of energy, but sooner or later we feel exhausted, like we’ve just run a marathon. Our body aches.
We can get by with being run-down once in a while, but this pattern has become a way of life for many of us.
We feel driven. We don’t get enough sleep. We don’t get proper exercise. We don’t schedule breaks to meditate. We don’t take time to prepare healthy foods. We don’t drink plenty of pure water.
This is where self-compassion enters the picture.
If we don’t take good care of ourselves, who will? If we’re not healthy and balanced, it’s difficult to give others quality attention. We can’t think well. We forget things. We get scattered. We get grouchy and critical. We withdraw. We become emotionally reactive.
If we don’t care for our health over a long period of time, we invite severe illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Our self-care … or lack thereof … impacts our families and our work in major ways.
Have I provided enough evidence that it’s a wise idea to develop self-compassion?
I hope so. However, setting a goal that is motivated by getting away from negative consequences won’t be enough to sustain long-term change. We’ll yo-yo back and forth like people who lose weight and gain it all back.
Self-compassion as a lifestyle begins with a commitment to proactively move toward what is most important to you.
I encourage you to adopt new values and beliefs. You can re-parent yourself right now. Put an “X” by the following statements that appeal to you.
1. Self-compassion is just as important as compassion for others.
2. I am as important as everyone else. No more and no less.
3. Setting myself on fire is not required to prove my love for others.
4. I am worthy of love and attention, just like everyone else.
5. God loves me, even in my brokenness.
6. My body is the temple of my spirit. It is important to take care of it.
7. The only real moment is “now.” I want to be as present as possible for my loved ones and myself. To do this, I need to be well-rested.
8. Good quality sleep and meditation are essential to physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health.
9. I choose to develop an Inner Guardian to ensure that I take good care of myself.
10. I choose to share my values about self-care and self-compassion. It is good for us all. I’ll say to my friends and co-workers, “I need balance in my life, and I support you to develop balance in your life. Let’s help each other develop healthy routines and be accountability buddies.”
11. I choose to co-create win-win solutions, rather than swinging between winning and losing.”
This is a great start. If you’re saying to yourself, “Easier said than done,” you’re right. Many of us have good ideas we don’t implement. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Counseling helps transform the unconscious blocks that perpetuate self-defeating patterns. Life Coaching helps you effectively implement your good ideas so you flourish.
Here are a three ways to receive more education and support:
1) Join me for a “Self-Compassion” workshop on Saturday, March 17, 2018 at Good Shepherd Church, Hayesville North Carolina. There are three presenters and the program runs 9:30am-3:30pm. My part of the program is 2-3:00pm. Lunch is included. Contact Good Shepherd Church for details.
Phone: 828-389-3397. 495 Herbert Hills Road, Hayesville, NC 28904
2) Schedule an appointment with me for professional counseling or life coaching: in-person at my office, on the phone or video-conference from your home.
3) Attend the Highly Sensitive Person Retreat: May 19-20, 2018.
Contact me for a complimentary 10-minute call to see if my services are a good fit for you. Click here to complete the Contact Page.
Benita Esposito, MA is a licensed professional counseling, life coach and spiritual counselor.
Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved. The Esposito Institute, Inc.
1 day Saturday, March 10, 2018 9:30am-5:30pm
Young Harris, Georgia
In the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains
Early Bird: February 3. Save $29.00
While weekly therapy sessions help sustain steady growth, sometimes you want to take giant leaps forward. I’d like to tell you about Breathwork, a mind-body-spirit technique that creates breakthroughs better than any method I know. Read more