Ten tips to get the most out of counselling.
Updated: Sep 15
I hope these tips will help you to get the most out of your counselling and perhaps answer some questions that you may have before starting.
Know what you want to acheive from counselling. This doesn't have to be a specific goal - maybe you just want to be able to talk about frustrations or express emotions that you hide from others. If you do have a specific goal do let your counsellor know and then you can both work towards it.
Make counselling a priority. It's tempting to cancel or postpone appointments when events get in the way but if you don't attend regularly it will be difficult to establish any momentum for change. By prioritising your counselling you are putting your self-care first and this is paramount if you are struggling.
Find a counsellor that you feel an affinity with. Check out their website and any entries on Counselling directories. Do they have a business presence on social media that you can visit? Do they write a blog? All of these platforms can help you to learn more about the person that you are going to be working with.
If a counsellor offers a free introducory session, take it up. You'll get an idea if they are the right person for you and have the opportunity to ask any questions.
Allow time to develop trust with your counsellor. This will enable you to talk about deeper issues and this is where great change can happen.
Try to be as honest as you can with your counsellor. You may not feel that you can do this straight away but once you have developed trust it will become easier. Remember that your counsellor is not there to judge you but is there to listen to you unconditionally. Ultimately your counsellor's aim is to help and support you.
Remember that releasing pent up emotions is good for you so try not to be embarassed if there are tears. Counsellors see crying all the time, it's a part of the job. Expressing repressed emotions can help to ease mental health problems such as anxiety and depression but also physical problems such as headaches, digestive problems and insomnia. Whether it is anger, sadness, fear or rage - all emotions are welcome in the counselling room.
It's perfectly ok to disagree with your counsellor and correct them if they have said something that you don't agree with. Maybe they misunderstood you and it is fine to be clear about that. They need to understand what life is like for you and they can't do that if you are not honest.
Many of my clients keep a counselling notebook and you may find this helpful too. You can use this to jot down important notes about each session and to record anything that comes up for you in between your meetings. If something happens during the week that you would like to discuss with your counsellor you can write this down as a reminder. You may be working with goals and doing homework in between sessions so, again, you can use this to keep it all in one place.
If you feel that counselling is not working then do tell your counsellor. Most things can be talked, adjusted and worked through. If this doesn't resolve things for you then it could be that this counsellor or their approach is not the right one for you. Keep in mind that you do need a few weekly sessions to develop this relationship. See my post 'How long does counselling take'.
I hope this has been helpful to you. Do leave a comment if you have other tips that you have found useful.