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European Association for Counselling

What to expect From Counselling

counselling expectations

How can Counselling Help?

It is a common misconception that a counsellor only helps people who have suffered from some traumatic or hurtful event in their lives. This presents one of the problems people have when they think of counselling.

First of all the TV and the cinema have a lot to account for by building a stereotypical image of the ‘Counsellors Couch’ approach. A Counsellor can help people with a myriad of different concerns from their daily living. It could be an understanding of the issues you are facing. Perhaps a feeling of being stuck in run-of the mill job. Perhaps suffering depression or anxiety about life itself.

There are many reasons why a person seeks out counselling. Few are at a pitch where they are in a crisis or that the intensity of their problem is so great they believed only counselling can help. Once again this is the stereotypical picture painted by the media. Another myth that needs to destroying is the one that says seeking out counselling demonstrates a weakness. A weakness in the thoughts and feelings of an individual. It is the strong individuals who turn to counselling. The people who decide they need help and the best help is to found talking things through with someone who is professionally trained to listen. Not just hear what a person is saying.

Will the Counsellor bombard the client with questions?

To make any progress a client cannot just walk through the door of the counsellors practice and not expect some form of questions. The counsellor will be professional. They studied for years at university on the proper approaches to counselling. Then in supervised practice, to help individuals such as you. But they are not and never will be mind-readers.

Every client is different! You can have two individuals suffering from depression, they will be unique. For a start they will have completely different experiences of life. Different relationships, different social lives.

When that counselling room door closes it is the counsellors work to help the client relax by creating a confidential and empathetic atmosphere. Then quietly and confidently open a conversation that the client feels safe to continue.

A conversation cannot be a conversation unless it is two-way. The counsellor will start explaining the process. They will emphasise the confidentiality of all that is said between the two parties. They will emphasise that whatever is said will stay in that room.

There is an exception to this. It is a legal requirement that counsellors are supervised throughout their career.

In their opening remarks the counsellor will explain this legal obligation. They may also say that in talking with their supervisor they may seek clarification and support. That may include conversations the client and the counsellor may have. Having said this they
will explain that only the case details are discussed for the benefit of
the client. While at the same time names will never be revealed nor be asked to be revealed. They will never described a situation in such a way that the supervisor will be able to draw conclusion as to who the counsellor is referring to.

Getting value out of 50 minutes of counselling service

Having established the process. While covering what else may take place the counsellor will begin to ask some background questions. Questions about the lifestyle, relationships, childhood, work and social experiences to build an image of the client. This is before they start to uncover the problem that brought the client in the first place. The counsellor may ask if they can take notes during the sessions? If there is resistance it will be explained why notes are important. But if the client is still unhappy the counsellor will not take notes during the counselling sessions.

The questions and tone used are designed to help the client to open up in confidence and play their full role in the conversation. The aim of a counselling session is to help the client to counsel themselves. Many resources will be advised where the client can seek self-help to move forward. To see their way to clearing any obstacles that may appear in the future. The counsellor may ask the clients attitude to alcohol, smoking and drug use. How does their mood affect their relationships with family and friends? When do they feel under most stress.

Usually a client will have received information through the post setting out what happens at the first session. Setting out the type of questions they will be asked. They may even be asked to complete a questionnaire and bring it with them to the first session. The counsellor may ask to see the questionnaire before meeting the client.

The aim of every session is, the client will walk out of the door feeling better than when they arrived. To make progress the client must feel that there is value in every meeting. I liken this as paying the fees to attend a gym for whatever reason. You only feel the value and the benefit if you attend the gym. You must put something into those visits to progress to your goal of self-improvement.

All types of therapy are a team effort just like going to the gym. If you don’t play an active role you will not find that the counselling experience has any value.

What can you do to prepare for that first session?

Decide to be open and honest in expressing your thoughts and feelings. The counsellor will ask some personal questions. As I said before, although highly trained and experienced, they are not mind-readers. The client has to play full role in helping the counsellor understand them and their problem. A person could not just walk into a doctor’s surgery and say Cure me! Clients have to be open and honest. So a relationship is established and developed.

Before the first session be sure that you can explain what is wrong and how to describe your feelings. Try writing your feelings and effects of your mood down. Read over what you wrote. It will help clarify your mind. It will help the counsellor show you how you can make progress toward your goal achievement.

Have a list of questions ready. Do not be afraid to ask the counsellor how they think they can help. If a particular modality is suggested by the counsellor ask questions. You should aim to have a firm understanding of what is going to happen. How the experience will help you toward your goal.

Author David Dutch

Author David Dutch