Taking the step to seek assistance with issues that arise out of being human is one of the hardest in the ‘going to therapy’ journey. The more information I can provide to manage expectations of the process, the more positive and effective the sessions can be. Here are some ideas to help you think about your sessions and the therapeutic process used in counselling psychology.
+ Client centred, client-directed.
This is time for you. You are the centre of the process, so you get to ask for what you need. We are co-pilots, you have the right to help steer the sessions but trust there is method to my processes, questions and the information I provide to help you understand some of the bio-medical aspects of the mind and wellbeing.
+ Opportunities and ideas, not advice or prescriptions.
I will not tell you what to do. I will not prescribe actions or give directions. I provide opportunities and encourage new ways of seeing and acting on old patterns, thoughts and behaviours. Discovering your own ability to find solutions is also a big part of the process. You choose whether to take the opportunity or not.
+ Therapy is more a half-marathon than a sprint.
Consider how long you have had the pattern, habit or issue in your life - a year, a month? A few sessions is not generally going to be enough to unravel and replace it. Most issues, depending on complexity and severity will take between 6 and 10 sessions to start seeing lasting change. Everyone is different.
+ ‘Happy’ isn’t always the goal.
Therapy is a bit like finishing a course of anti-biotics, you shouldn’t stop coming to therapy as soon as you start to feel ‘better’, the deeper longer-lasting changes and importantly - your ability to apply the strategies when stress is triggered again - happen once your presenting issues/emotional distress are initially soothed.
+ ‘Homeplay’ and practice will help anchor in change.
Creating positive change doesn’t happen just in a therapy room, it happens when you apply the ideas, principles & strategies in your daily life. The more you ‘try on’ the skills and complete suggested activities, the more opportunity we have to tweak, hone and improve them. Consider me like a personal trainer (for the mind), we work together on key skills and then you practice them in the gym (of life). You don’t have a personal trainer walking around behind with you in life reminding you how to do things!
+ Whatever you talk about, is exactly what you needed to say.
There is no ‘right’ thing to talk about, no ‘right’ way of speaking or explaining. Even when you thought you wanted to talk about one thing and talk about another there is probably a reason for that, and that reason is part of the process. Don’t get caught up in what you are coming in to say, just show up and be open to knowing whatever you say is what you needed to externalise.