Beginning Counselling

what to expect from counsellingYou’ve met your counsellor and decided to go ahead with some sessions. He or she seems pleasant, competent and interested in what you have to say. You might be feeling rather unsure about what happens next and also perhaps a little wary as to whether you can really trust this stranger with your innermost thoughts and feelings.
What happens next is, in my opinion, crucial to establishing a therapeutic relationship that is of help.
I think of the first few weeks with a new client as a time when both of us are getting to know each other and finding some sort of ‘fit’ that suits. Often, there is a stage of what I describe as ‘knocking the corners off’ the developing relationship; sensitivities might be revealed and need to be dealt with and a sense of pace established which feels comfortable enough for both therapist and client to handle.
This process can feel bumpy, squirmy and as if nothing of worth is happening!
I warn all potential new clients about this stage and ask them to bear with it for at least six sessions, especially if this is their first time in therapy. Once this normal part of the counselling process is over, things usually settle down and the real work can start to take place. Of course, sometimes it might be that this particular therapist is just not the right one for you, in which case you will have given it a go and will hopefully come away with a clearer idea of what you need (or don’t need, as the case may be).*
The practice of counselling and psychotherapy is not an exact science. It is difficult to predict how many sessions someone might need to feel better about themselves and how they choose to conduct their life. Patterns of relating that have been established over many decades are unlikely to be changed in a few short weeks, no matter how skilled your therapist claims to be. However, for those brave souls who enter into therapy with enthusiasm, courage and humility the rewards – in terms of living a more authentic life and being able to form and maintain loving, balanced relationships with others – can be very great indeed.
* N.b. I do not recommend continuing with a therapist who is any way abusive towards you. This scenario is highly unlikely, but sadly not unheard of. If this happens to you, please contact the therapist’s professional body or the police, as appropriate.
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