It can be really daunting going to counselling.
First there is the realisation you might need some professional support with your problems. As if that isn’t enough, you then have to choose a counsellor from an array of options including the type of therapy they practice, to the therapist themselves. Should you pick a male or female counsellor? What sort of training should they have? Should you select purely from their photos! Do they have a friendly face? What will happen when you meet them? It can feel overwhelming.
Here are five things which might help you think about it differently.1.
Firstly, the majority counsellors who have been on a reputable training will have been in therapy during their own training to become a therapist. The way it was put to the group I belonged to as a trainee therapist, was that every counsellor needs to know what a long course of therapy feels like, and what may emerge from it. How can we offer counselling if we have not experienced it ourselves? That made sense to me. Because a lot of the trainings are two, three or four years in length, the majority of us have sat in the ‘client’s chair’ for a long time. The other valid reason for this is if we are going to counsel you, we need to be sure we don’t confuse our own issues with our client’s problems. Therapy is one way of working out the why and wherefores of our own emotions and that keeps us fully available to you, the client during sessions.
At the first session, try and remember that you are meeting the therapist to see if you want to work with him or her. If you have an instant reaction to them, you might ask yourself, it is because they remind me of someone I know (who I have issues with). If the answer is yes, then you might choose to go ahead and try to work through those issues with the therapist or you might say to yourself, “No thank you, I will look elsewhere”! All professional counsellors and psychotherapists understand that happens sometimes. There should be no problem with you saying so. Counselling is a very chemical process, like all relationships, sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there. That is fine.
Counsellors are trained to make a contract with you. This is not a legal contract, but rather more a description of the agreement between you, the client and your counsellor. Some counsellors do it orally; personally, I do it in written form because I find it works better in my practice. What it outlines is where we will meet, for how long, what I charge and what my cancellation policy is. It explains about client confidentiality and in what circumstances I would have to break that (in the case of terrorism, or if a child or elderly person was being abused). In short, it is making everything about the counselling clear and open so nothing is hidden and there are no surprises for you, the client. If you are going to share your inner world with me, I want you to feel safe and held by the counselling process and a contact is just one way to let you know the process is transparent and contained.
Some counsellors use additional techniques to conversation. It depends on our trainings. I am trained as a practitioner of Psychosynthesis. Others may be Psychodynamic therapists, Gestalt therapists or one of the other many different modalities. Counsellors will often use ways of working we have been trained in or we may ‘borrow’ ideas from other forms of counselling to enrich our work. For example, when the time feels right and if a client wants to, I might use guided visualisation (a guided daydream to explore the unconscious), relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, drawing, making a time-line and many others. The important point here is these ways of working are only used when the right moment presents itself, they are not used indiscriminately.
Lastly, the relationship between the counsellor and the client is central to the work. Roberto Assagioli (the founder of Psychosynthesis) said that this relationship was the very heart of the therapeutic process. He believed that without trust being established in the counselling room very little growth was possible for clients. The importance of the relationship brings us full circle back to the second point, about the important of choosing the right therapist for yourself. I usually suggest client’s trust their intuition at the end of the first meeting. Learning to trust yourself is important and a very good place to start.
I hope this sheds some light on the counselling process, and should you be thinking of having counselling, the first step is to contact me, you can do that here
. I welcome your enquiry and I promise I will endeavour to put you at your ease and make that first step less stressful.
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