My first step with a prospective client is to have an assessment session. We define where the client is now and where they want to go, and that becomes the work that we do. The client is assessing whether they feel that I know what I am doing and that they can be open with me. I am assessing whether the individual really does want to make changes.
If that is in place, we usually decide to work together. If not, I can suggest alternative ways forward.
One of the myths of counselling is that things have to get worse before they get better. My aim is for the client to feel better as soon as possible.