What to Expect
The counseling process begins with your first session, where history and background information are gathered. This first session usually involves the counselor asking you questions about your life, orienting you to the counseling process, and giving you the opportunity to ask your own questions. If it is collaboratively determined that you and your counselor are a good fit, the subsequent sessions will involve discussing your goals, developing a personalized plan of action, getting to know each other, and exploring what motivates you.
Sessions are generally scheduled on a weekly basis and at the end of each session you might be given small tasks to complete outside your counseling sessions. These tasks can range from trying new behaviors or simply paying attention to your emotions throughout the week. Work outside the counseling session reinforces progress made in-session.
Above all, you should know that this process may be quite challenging. It’s sometimes difficult to open up to counselors at first. You might worry that discussing your painful emotions will be too difficult. These are very common feelings to have and finding a counselor that you can truly connect with, and that has your best interests in mind, is extremely important. Only in an accepting environment can you begin to heal and grow. Counselors sometimes refer to themselves as “fellow travelers” who are willing to revisit those wounded places in your heart to help you along your healing journey.
As much as your counselor may want to help you, your commitment to attending sessions and challenging yourself, even when it gets difficult, is very important. Making counseling a priority by keeping your appointments and being fully present during your sessions will help you get the most out of counseling.
Counseling can give you relief from your distress, help you feel supported, and assist you in improving your quality of life. Research has shown that talk therapy (counseling) works just as well, if not better than, medications in the treatment of most mental health disorders. Additionally, gains made in counseling tend to last longer than those of medications.