What to Expect
What to Expect from Counseling?
We appreciate the opportunity to consult with you on the life challenges that you are facing. Our work together can be more helpful when you have a clear understanding of what to expect from counseling.
It is important to feel comfortable with the therapist you choose and that you feel confident and optimistic about counseling. When you feel this way, counseling is much more likely to be beneficial to you.
Before you meet with a therapist, you will be provided with questionnaires to complete online before your first session. The questionnaires provide a foundation that will enable you to receive the best results from counseling.
The intake questionnaire asks you to explain your reason(s) for seeking therapy and to describe your therapeutic goals. Additional questionnaires you may be asked to complete include assessments for anxiety, depression, trauma, substance abuse, dissociation, and other possible challenges.
During your first session, After developing a detailed description of your current life situation and the symptoms you are experiencing, you and your therapist will discuss treatment options uniquely tailored to you.
As an important part of working together, you are encouraged to keep a personal journal to record your private thoughts, feelings, dreams, struggles, hopes, insights, goals, and progress. In addition, to facilitate your progress and to help you practice and build on the work completed in our sessions, your therapist will provide you with information, strategies, tools, and educational aids in the form of books, handouts, therapeutic exercises, audio, and video material for you to use between sessions. Therapists usually make notes either during sessions or shortly thereafter. You may also find it useful to write notes during or after your sessions.
How Can Therapy Help?
Sometimes quickly, and sometimes more gradually, the process of counseling can enable you to not only overcome your life challenges but also develop more awareness of yourself and your relationship with others. This awareness can naturally unfold as you develop a clearer understanding of yourself through an analysis of your experiences in your family of origin, childhood experiences, dreams, and other important relationships and events. You can then begin to experience real progress and positive change by applying what is covered in your sessions to what is happening in the rest of your life.
A deeper understanding of yourself, emotional healing, personal growth, peace of mind, and more authentic and healthy relationships with others, can naturally develop through your commitment to the process of positive change.
By the end of our first or second session, your therapist will discuss therapeutic treatment suggestions. Counseling should be viewed as a partnership between you and your therapist. You define the problem areas to be worked on, and your therapist will use his or her clinical experience, knowledge, and training to help you make the changes you want to create.
Counseling is not like visiting a physician, dentist, or chiropractor. It requires your active involvement and sustained efforts to create changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You and your therapist will assess your progress and goals, and change or revise approaches, methods, and/or treatment as needed.
An important part of your counseling is practicing new skills and behaviors you learn in sessions. You and your therapist will discuss strategies to deepen your learning between sessions. These are important parts of personal change. You can learn new ways of looking at your life challenges that will be very helpful for creating lasting positive changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
The Risks of Counseling
There are some risks as well as many benefits with counseling. For example, there is a risk that clients may have uncomfortable levels of sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness, helplessness, or other negative feelings.
Clients may recall unpleasant memories. These feelings or memories may bother a client at work or in school. In addition, some ill-informed people in the community may mistakenly view anyone in counseling in uncomplimentary terms. Also, clients in counseling may have problems with some of the people important to them. Family secrets may be told.
Sometimes too, a client’s problems may temporarily worsen after the beginning of counseling. Most of these risks are natural and are to be expected when people are making important changes in their lives. Even with our best efforts, there is a risk that counseling may not bring you all the results you were hoping for. However, in terms of alternatives to counseling, choosing not to address your difficulties is not likely to be helpful to you.
The Benefits of Counseling
The benefits of counseling have been shown by scientists in hundreds of well-designed research studies.
For example, people who are depressed can find their mood-lifting. Others no longer feel afraid, angry, or anxious.
In counseling, people have a chance to talk things out fully until their feelings are relieved or the problems are solved.
Clients’ relationships and coping skills can improve greatly. They can get more satisfaction out of social and family relationships. Their personal goals and values can become clearer. They can grow in many directions – as individuals, in their close relationships, work or schooling, and in their ability to attain meaning and enjoyment in their lives.
Our therapists do not work with anyone unless they believe they can help.