What to Expect from Counselling and Psychotherapy?
I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to consult with you on the life challenges that you are facing. I believe our work together can have the most benefit to you when you have a clear understanding of what to expect from counselling and psychotherapy with me.
I firmly believe that you need to be very comfortable with the psychotherapist you choose to work with and, at the same time, that you feel confident and optimistic about counselling and psychotherapy. When you feel this way, counselling and psychotherapy is much more likely to be very helpful to you.
At the beginning of our work together, in the interests of accuracy and efficiency, and in order to save time and money, I will provide you with a questionnaire for you to complete online before our first session. When completed, this questionnaire will provide us with a comprehensive, in-depth foundation that will enable you to receive the best results from counselling or psychotherapy.
The first questionnaire will ask you to explain in detail, your reason(s) for seeking therapy and asks you to describe what your specific goals are in beginning counselling or psychotherapy. After developing a detailed description of your current life situation and the challenges you are experiencing, together, we will be taking a therapeutic approach that is specifically and uniquely tailored to you.
As an important part of our work together, I will also encourage you to keep a personal journal where you can record your private thoughts, feelings, dreams, struggles, hopes, insights, goals and progress. In addition, in order to facilitate your progress, and to help you practice and build on the work completed in our sessions, from time to time, I will provide you with information, strategies, tools, and educational aids in the form of books, handouts, therapeutic exercises, audio, and video material for you to use between our sessions. I usually make notes either during our sessions or shortly thereafter. You may also find it useful to make your own notes, and also to make notes outside of our sessions.
How Can Therapy Help?
Sometimes quickly, and sometimes more gradually, the process of counselling and psychotherapy can enable you to not only overcome your life challenges, but also develop more awareness of yourself and your relationship with others. This awareness can naturally unfold as you develop a clearer understanding of yourself through an analysis of your experiences in your family of origin, childhood experiences, dreams, and other important relationships and events. You can then begin to actually experience real progress and positive change by applying what we cover in our sessions to what is happening in the rest of your life.
A deeper understanding of yourself, emotional healing, personal growth, peace of mind, and more authentic and healthy relationships with others, can naturally develop through your commitment to the process of positive change.
By the end of our first or second session, I will tell you how I see your situation and how I believe we should proceed. I view counselling and psychotherapy as a very close partnership between us. You define the problem areas to be worked on; and I use my clinical experience, knowledge, and training to help you make the changes you want to create.
Counselling and psychotherapy is not like visiting a physician, dentist, or chiropractor. It requires your very active involvement. It requires your determined and sustained efforts to create changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Therefore, I want you to tell me about your life experiences, what they mean to you, and how you feel about them. During our sessions, it is essential that you always say whatever is on your mind, without holding back anything or censoring or editing what you tell me. From time to time, together we will look at our progress and goals. If we think we need to, we can then change our approach, methods, and/or goals.
An important part of your counselling and psychotherapy will be practising new skills and behaviours that you will learn in our sessions. I will ask you to practice between our sessions and we will work together to set up homework assignments for you. I might ask you to do exercises, keep records, and read or listen to audio material to deepen your learning. You will probably have to work on some of the relationships in your life and make long-term and determined efforts to get the best results. These are important parts of personal change. Change will sometimes be easy and quick, but it may at times seem slow and frustrating, so you will need to remain committed to your own growth and development. There are no instant, painless cures and no “magic pills.” However, you can learn new ways of looking at your life challenges that will be very helpful for creating lasting positive changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
The Risks of Counselling and Psychotherapy
There are some risks as well as many benefits with counselling and psychotherapy and it is important that you be aware of these. For example, in counselling and psychotherapy, there is a risk that clients will, for a time, have uncomfortable levels of sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness, helplessness, or other negative feelings.
Clients may recall unpleasant memories. These feelings or memories may bother a client at work or in school. In addition, some ill-informed people in the community may mistakenly view anyone in counselling and psychotherapy as being weak or in other kinds of uncomplimentary terms. Also, clients in counselling and psychotherapy may have problems with some of the people important to them. Family secrets may be told.
Sometimes too, a client’s problems may temporarily worsen after the beginning of counselling and psychotherapy. Most of these risks are natural and are to be expected when people are making important changes in their lives. Even with our best efforts, there is a risk that counselling and psychotherapy may not bring you all the results you were hoping for. However, in terms of alternatives to counselling and psychotherapy, choosing not to address your difficulties is not likely to be helpful to you.
The Benefits of Counselling and Psychotherapy
The benefits of counselling and psychotherapy have been shown by scientists in hundreds of well-designed research studies.
For example, people who are depressed can find their mood-lifting. Others no longer feel afraid, angry, or anxious.
In counselling and psychotherapy, people have a chance to talk things out fully until their feelings are relieved or the problems are solved.
Clients’ relationships and coping skills can improve greatly. They can get more satisfaction out of social and family relationships. Their personal goals and values can become clearer. They can grow in many directions – as individuals, in their close relationships, in their work or schooling, and in their ability to attain meaning and enjoyment in their lives.
I do not work with anyone unless I believe I can truly be of help to them. Therefore, I will enter our relationship with lots of confidence and optimism about your progress.