I’m a big fan of using analogies. I sometimes use them without even thinking about them, and in any case, I don’t hesitate to use them if it gets my point across. 


“She’s a diamond in the rough.”
“He’s as blind as a bat.”
“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.”


My use depends on the person sitting on the couch across the counseling room from me, of course: I can tell pretty quickly if they’re an analogy nerd, or secretly wishing I’d stop immediately, or somewhere in between.


I was reminded of one of these analogies when I was working on an easy-sounding project for my daughter’s last birthday—a yarn tassel garland.


The process goes like this: you hand-spin the yarn around a flat surface like a book, tie the top, snip the bottom, and secure it in the middle.


The Youtuber whose tutorial I watched warned the hardest part of the project was how the yarn gets tangled. “I’m sure if I’m careful, I won’t have a problem,” I thought.


If only life actually worked that way.


Less than halfway through the project, I felt lost in a small sea of the mustard-yellow string. It laced through my fingers, billowed down to the surface I was working on, and led to puddle-like knots before rejoining the tidy rows of the original skein as if it had never left.


I found myself wishing I had someone nearby, a spare set of hands, to help me with the mess I struggled to make sense of on my own. I pictured myself being able to say, “this piece goes here… this strand goes there… and I’m not sure about this one. What do you think?”


How a Tangle of Yarn is Like Starting Counseling



The analogy isn’t perfect, of course. But I was struck by the parallels between the help I needed in the situation I found myself in, and what it is I do with my clients. 

When clients first start counseling, they’re often feeling overwhelmed by their experiences and emotions—whether they’re ones they’ve always struggled with, or ones related to a recent event or loss.


A counselor’s job is not to solve their problems, to wave a magic wand, or even to hand them a brand new “ball of yarn.” We both know we can’t do that (even in the moments when we wish we could).


But we can provide a safe space and trained perspective as they process and navigate the thoughts, feelings, and symptoms that are all jumbled together. They don’t leave with a ball so flawless it could be place back on a craft store’s shelf, but they do leave with clarity, a newfound ability to move forward, and the experience of being seen, heard, and joined instead of alone.


What You Can Expect in a First Session

If you haven’t been to counseling before, it only makes sense that you have questions about what to expect, too. In fact, I’m willing to guess the uncertainty around this question keeps a lot of people from sending that first email or making that first phone call, even when they would benefit from it as much as the next person.

So, here are a few things you can expect in a first counseling session:

  • Plan on going over confidentiality. This is covered in the paperwork you will have filled out by the time you’re actually in the counseling room, but most counselors (myself included) like to clarify and summarize what the small print means so we’re on the same page and you can share confidently.

  • Expect your counselor to want to get to know you. Yes, it’s a professional relationship, but we’re human beings. It’s important to me that I take every chance I get to get to know my clients better as unique individuals. Not only are you worth knowing, but this helps me do my job as best I can. 

  • Know that your counselor will likely ask about goals. Some people come with specific goals in mind, while some aren’t sure what goals they want to work towards when they start out–in which case, the counselor can help you figure out what it is you’d like to get out of counseling. Goals can be added to, eliminated, or changed at any time.

Thinking About Counseling?

If you’re thinking about counseling, I encourage you to take the first step by reaching out to a counselor today. If you’re in Missouri or the Greater St. Louis area, I would be happy to hear from you and find out if we’re a good fit! Click here to take the next step today.


Hi! I’m Shauna. I graduated from
Covenant Theological Seminary in 2020
and have loved walking alongside brave
people on their healing journeys ever since.

This is a space where I address questions
about counseling, share tips for centered
living, and make observations from personal
life experiences.

So grab a cup of your favorite thing,
and enjoy the perspective of a counselor,
wife, mama, autoimmune warrior,
daughter, sister, & friend.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to provide mental health treatment and does not constitute or replace a therapeutic relationship. The information on this website is never intended to provide or replace medical advice.



Growth. When we use the term we’re usually not talking about physical growth (unless maybe we’re referring to a small

New Branch Counseling, LLC

in partnership w/Kaleo Counseling Services
5498 St. Charles Street, Cottleville, MO 63304