Making the decision to enter counseling is an important one, and can often be a difficult phone call to make. Your counselor is aware of this, and considerate of the sometimes intense emotions that have going into your reaching out for help. Counselors sometimes find themselves in your very shoes—making this same call—at some point in our lives. Everyone can do with some help seeing outside ourselves from time to time, but, once we’ve gotten past that initial phone call, how do we make the most of the decision to seek counseling? Let’s explore five ways to do just that.
Know Your Goals
A question counselors often ask in the first session is something like, ‘What brought you to counseling, and what do you hope to get out of it?’ It’s often helpful to think about those goals before you come to your first session. This will allow you and your counselor to establish a framework for the work you’re doing and establish a suitable treatment plan quickly. This will support you in moving toward healing. You might ask yourself where you want to be and how do you want to feel once counseling has ended. If you’re clueless about where to start in terms of coming up with a goal or goals, that not a problem. Simply talk with your counselor about it. Your counselor is there to help and will help you both work through your concerns and form goals alongside you.
Give Yourself a Break
Counseling takes time. Don’t expect instant results because, just as the challenges you’re facing didn’t form overnight, neither will the solutions. That’s no reason to be discouraged. It’s all part of the process. Sometimes things do change quickly, but the first couple of sessions with your counselor are really more about you telling your story, in addition to addressing your goals, getting to know and trust your counselor, learning—and possibly event implementing—new skills. Think of it this way: if you go to counseling for one month, that’s only four hours. You’re just beginning to feel comfortable. Give yourself a break from the pressure you may be putting on yourself to ‘get results’ and let things improve in their own time. Anything else is simply not terribly realistic.
It Can Be an Emotional Roller Coaster
Counseling isn’t always pretty and can sometimes be unpredictable. As you move through your process, you may find yourself having some pretty extreme emotional swings. This can happen over time, but it can also happen in a single session. Sometimes, you may leave a session feeling much better than when you arrived. Other times you may leave feeling contemplative, or even a bit numb. Healing isn’t easy and very often it hurts deeply to deal with the deep emotions you’ve been stuffing for so long. Just know that, in the end, it will be well worth the ride!
Attend Your Sessions Consistently
Counseling works best when you engage in it consistently. This typically means on a weekly basis. If you start canceling, for whatever reason, what you’re doing is delaying your own healing. Breaks are for the end of treatment, not the beginning. Sometimes life does get in the way, but making the effort to be there should be a priority. After all, it’s for you!
Counseling is a process. It’s collaborative and ever-evolving. Your treatment is your own—you have a say in how it goes—so, don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel that something isn’t working for you. The truth is, counselors are not mind readers, and we can’t help you with what we don’t know. We are here for your benefit, so, remember, you won’t hurt our feelings.
You have a great of power over making your counseling experience work for you. You own the goals you set and are an equal partner in creating your treatment plan. You are the one in charge of implementing the lessons and homework that come out of each week’s session. You get a say in how things are going, what’s working and what’s not. A lot of good can come out of counseling for you so don’t hold back for fear of being judged. We are here for you, ready to get into your stuff right alongside you and help YOU!
If you’ve been thinking about counseling to help you manage or deal with some of the challenges you feel you are facing, feel free to contact Amy Wine Counseling Center to speak with Amy Wine or one of her associates.