What to Expect
WHY PEOPLE COME FOR COUNSELLING?
People seek counselling and psychotherapy for many reasons. Usually it is because individuals have problems which they would like to talk about with someone other than family or friends. People coming to counselling may be experiencing over-whelming emotions e.g. anxiety and depression, anger and resentment, or may have low self- esteem. The range of difficulties is very broad and may include stress, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, family issues, alcohol and drug misuse, sexual abuse etc.
AIMS OF COUNSELLING
The aim of counselling is to provide time and attention to help the individual to define for themselves the nature of the problems they are facing. In doing this they can make decisions about what they can do to reduce the impact of these problems on themselves or those around them. It can also help to bring about the confidence and skills needed to make a change. In the safety of a trusting relationship with someone who is neutral, counselling also helps with working out unhelpful or distressing patterns. It is also about identifying unmet needs and through the supportive relationship with the counsellor working to meet those needs.
Counselling involves talking with someone who can help you find your own solutions to your own problems or empowering you to find more satisfying ways of relating. Counsellors do not give advice. The counsellor’s role is that of facilitating change. In addition to talking and listening, counsellors work in different ways and may use different techniques, e.g. journal writing, goal setting, working with the body and with dreams, role play, drawing and art, play with children etc. depending on the needs of the client and the training of the counsellor.
WHAT HAPPENS IN COUNSELLING AT LIVING LIFE?
Counselling takes place in a confidential setting in an environment of respect and trust. It usually happens once a week lasting 50 minutes, on a specific day at an agreed time, thus providing a regular structured time for the work. In counselling the client is expected to attend regularly and participate as fully as they can in the process. It can be short term – 1 to 2 months or longer with a maximum time of 6 months. The length of time depends on the needs of the client and is usually agreed between client and counsellor after an initial period, usually 4 to 6 weeks. Further ongoing reviews will happen to determine the need.
Our counsellors can work with an individual or a couple. Some counsellors also work with children and teens. In a general sense, counselling focuses on the here and now and is often solution-focused and may work with the connection between thinking, feeling and behaviour. Psychotherapy is more about looking at deeper patterns and unconscious connections with important life events and relationships from our past and at how they influence the present. Many counsellors nowadays integrate these differing ways of working into their practice. Our counselling staff will explain the way we work when you meet. Sometimes it happens that the match between the counsellor and client does not work out or that the issue presented is outside the scope of our service. When this happens, it may be necessary to refer out to another counsellor or mental health service.
WHAT TO EXPECT AS YOU BEGIN COUNSELLING?
Whether you’re coming to counselling for the first time or have had counselling before, attending your first session with a new counsellor can be scary. During your first session your counsellor will discuss your client agreement, the length and duration of counselling, confidentiality, and describe how you will work together. You will also have space and time to let your counsellor know what has brought you to counselling at this time and what you would like to gain from the experience. It can also be really helpful to let your counsellor know if you have any worries or fears about counselling.
It is extremely common that counselling can evoke painful and difficult emotions, this can be an indication that you are working on key issues. We understand this can be an uncomfortable experience, especially as you begin. Counselling is very much to support you in the issues you are going through in your life. Counselling is always about change. The important thing is that you work with your counsellor to ensure you get the most from your sessions.
As counselling can often be mentally and physically tiring you might want to think about a self-care plan to use following your sessions. Some examples of self-care can include going for a walk, reading, arranging a call with a friend, or something else that feels like self-care to you. More information and resources can be found here.