What happens in counselling?
If you are new to counselling then you may not know what to expect. I encourage my clients to ask questions about counselling and what it involves, so if you find that I do not answer your questions here, please feel free to ask me in person, or send me an email.
Not all counsellors work in the same way, and so I cannot speak for the whole profession, but I can explain how I work and what you might experience if you choose to come to me.
In our first session I tend to ask quite a few questions, but this is only so that I can get a feel for whether I think counselling is likely to benefit you. Once we are working together in a regular routine, you will find that I let you do most of the talking. Counselling can offer you a non-judgemental and neutral place to explore things that are not necessarily possible to share with people who are close to you. I use my therapeutic skills to help you focus on the issues that are causing you concern and help you to understand yourself more deeply.
I am an integrative counsellor, offering a combination of person centred and psychodynamic therapy. If you would like to understand more about what these terms mean then please read “How I Work” for more detailed information.
What should I talk about?
Essentially counselling is a conversation between you and me, in which the main subject is you. This can feel a bit strange at first, as there aren’t many other situations when you can talk so freely and for so long about yourself.
Clients frequently say that they don’t know where to start, or whether something is important enough to talk about. In this case I always say that if something is in your head, and you feel you want to share it, then it is definitely relevant. I don’t usually start off a session with questions, because then I would be steering you towards what I want to talk about, and the whole point is that you tell me what is important to you, and that I listen.
Will you give me advice?
My approach to counselling does not involve giving advice or guidance, although I might sometimes direct you to a service or resource that you can choose to access if you want to. Sometimes, I may coach clients in assertiveness techniques or in paying attention to thoughts and feelings, but I will never ever tell people what to do.
How long do I need?
Clients often ask at the start of counselling how long they need. It is a very difficult question because it depends on so many factors, not all of which are always clear at the start.
I would tend to say that a minimum of 6 sessions is usual, but this is considered short term, and will not allow time to look at deep historic issues if they are part of the current problem. If I believe that long term work is needed I will say so at the start, but obviously it is always your choice about how long you want to continue with counselling. I usually offer counselling as open-ended, which means that we will regularly review and check whether you are still benefiting and decide together when and how you want to finish.