If you haven’t been to counselling before you may be unsure of what to expect, so I’m hoping to take away some of the mystery by offering an insight into what happens during sessions.
Firstly, it is worth remembering that counselling is a talking therapy. I may ask you questions for clarification or as a prompt, but you are expected to do most of the talking! The aim of counselling is to provide you with a confidential relationship to explore personal issues in a safe environment. The counsellor’s role is to help you through this process, without judgement or telling you what to do, by attempting to understand your experience from your personal perspective. However, if advice is what you want, I can provide you with details of organisations that may help.
The first session
During the first session we will go through the counselling agreement (contract), which outlines the boundaries in our counselling relationship (you will be sent a copy of your counselling agreement to look at before your first session). We will also talk about what has brought you to counselling, what you would like to get out of our sessions, and how we might work together to best support you get to where you want to be. This first session gives us a chance to find out whether we feel we could work well together. After the first session, you may decide that counselling isn’t for you, or that I’m not the right counsellor for you. If this is the case, you are under no obligation to have any further sessions.
The following sessions
In subsequent sessions, you are free to talk about whatever you wish to bring. These are your sessions, so I don’t set an agenda or tell you what to talk about – I just meet you where you are at that moment in time and we take it from there. Counselling tends to be more effective if attended on a weekly basis, as each session builds on the work of the previous session, and long gaps between sessions can cause a loss of momentum and can make it harder for you to progress. Counselling can also be a long process, and so you need to be committed to attending regularly to achieve the full benefit from it. As a guide, a minimum of 6 sessions is recommended to begin with.
The last session
The end of therapy is important, as it gives us a chance to reflect on your journey – how far you have come, what has worked, what hasn’t, what you’ve learned, and how you move forward. It allows us to bring everything to a close and to say goodbye.