What happens in counselling and what’s the point?
- Put most simply, during counselling you and I will sit down in a quiet room in a couple of chairs facing each other. Weekly meetings for 50 minutes are recommended.
Reason – There needs to be a safe space with no distractions. You need enough time to explore issues but not so much that you get exhausted. Consistent shared experience establishes a relationship more effectively. The meetings need to be far apart enough for you to have time to reflect on what you have shared but close enough so that you don’t forget what comes up for you.
- You will talk and I will listen. As you talk about yourself, you will get to hear your own thoughts and feelings out loud and as you do that, you will get to know yourself better and I will to get to know you too.
Reason – I will need to know what your life is really like for you, from your perspective not anyone else’s. While I’m doing that, you will get to share your true experience of your life without anyone telling you what should or shouldn’t happen in it.
- I will ask you questions about your life, this may be about thoughts, opinions or feelings, it may be about your past or the people in your life.
Reason – To discover how you do what you do and why. My questions may be to clarify something I don’t understand or sometimes to get you to think in more detail about how you arrived at a thought, opinion or feeling.
- I will not tell you what to do, how to fix your problems or give my views on your decisions, thoughts, feelings or opinions.
Reason – I may have some opinions about you and your life; so may a lot of other people and they are usually happy to share these with you. However, counselling is a space to work out your own stuff and to get comfortable and confident about taking responsibility for yourself, your thoughts and your actions and making your own decisions.
But – I will always be honest with you sometimes that may mean breaking the above rule if necessary and for your benefit.
- I recommend coming for between 6 to 18 months as a very general rule.
Reason – Change is hard and takes time. Therapy is about changing something in your life that isn’t working for you, as well as supporting you through that change. Experiences such as anxiety and depression might, and usually do, start to fade as you work with your therapist but therapy is most effective when the symptoms aren’t so severe. That way you have more mental work-space to think clearly about how your decisions affect you and your life. So, though it is tempting to stop as soon as you feel better, often the most effective work is done just after that.
- Therapy is not forever but, returning does not mean going backwards.
Reason – Self-discovery is an ongoing process and there are many ways to continue the journey. Therapy will help you discover the resources and obstacles within yourself so you can continue on your own. However, life throws up all sorts of challenges and getting help when that happens is useful.