Have you stopped to ask yourself: what do I want to get out of counselling?
Is it to:
- Work out a problem – I’m stuck!!
- Manage an issue that has landed in my lap?
- Disclose pain/ manage pain/ work through pain/ avoid pain?
- Understand my partner a little better – I know what I am doing right – where am I going wrong?
- Understand my children – I know what I am doing right – where am I going wrong?
- I’m in gridlock in so many ways …
- My job is getting me down and I don’t see a way out …
- I’m pushing 20/30/40/50 and I don’t like it …
- I’ve got kids on one side and ageing parents on the other – when do I find time for me? Why do I feel so stressed?
- Just get me out of here!!!!
Whatever the reason you seek counselling, it must be important to you or you wouldn’t be reading this article and seeking help on this website.
One thing our psychologists and counselling professionals agree on: that there is a genuineness and transparency in people who seek counselling – words like authentic and courageous come to mind.
So, what sorts of things might you expect from counselling?
Firstly, your psychologist or counsellor is not the expert on everything. However we recognise that people choosing to seek our services are often looking for a professional assessment and interpretation/reflection on information presented. They may be wanting someone to look at an issue objectively and to take the discussion up to the next level; they want confidentiality and they want understanding. That is to be expected! They don’t mind a bit of homework and like a take-home message.
Secondly, we aim to concentrate on the person-hood of the client rather than the problem-hood of the client. We are not the sum of our problems. We are the sum of our choices, our environment, and a gene pool that unfortunately is probably there to stay! In other words, if we can change our choices and our priorities, then what we experience in our lives can also change. Situations that can appear intractable can become controlled, manageable, yielding.
Thirdly, the conversation will be exploring the threshold of possibilities. Early on, we will look to get some traction over complaints and requests by actioning and focusing on information, workable compromises and possibilities. We will not be centring on personal accusations and recriminations. It’s OK to talk about these things once – of course. The past has a huge impact on what we think and feel today. But the thing about the past is that it is in the past. Whatever we feel and think about the past – it is over. This is sometimes the hardest part of all. We can’t change the past – but we can learn so much from our experiences and move forward with that knowledge – we can make it good knowledge. We can have a firm base to build on. But don’t negate the good things that are happening around you – even today!
Alan Saunders, a cartoonist, is credited with being the originator of the saying, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” in 1957. The saying was later popularised by John Lennon in the song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)“.
Fourthly, your psychologist or counsellor will check in with you along the way … What is it that you want different in your lives (goals)? What strengths and resources can you bring to bear on making these desired differences a reality? What things will make a difference? How will you know you are experiencing those goals? How will you know you are “on track”? How will you know you are experiencing some of what you want now? How will you know when the problem isn’t there anymore? What changes have occurred since you booked the session / attended the last session?
We might use scaling – zero to ten – with zero being “That was a total waste of time – I’ll never get that hour back again”, to a ten “that was the best, most fantastic one hour of counselling and conversation I’ve ever had”. In other words, how did we go today in terms of staying on track and addressing the concerns that brought you into counselling?
If you feel that you aren’t building a rapport with your psychologist or counsellor, please let us know. Rapport is an integral part of what makes for a successful counselling experience, so if it doesn’t feel like a good “fit”, we are happy to refer you on to another one of the counselling professionals available at our clinic.
Author: Vision Psychology.
“The Road less Travelled” by M Scott Peck (Random House, London, 2003)
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