Starting therapy is one of the most important journeys one can take. Diving into the inner world to find a way and make sense of thoughts and emotions is challenging and critical.
When Looking For the Right Fit, Trust Your Feelings.
Every person's emotional world works differently. Therefore, no one counsellor will be the perfect fit for everyone. You may ask friends or family if they have ever attended a counselling session before and if they would recommend that counsellor.
Starting Your Counselling Journey Might Be Among the Most Important Decisions You're Making.
If you are lucky, you might find a good fit immediately, but, in most cases, it takes repeated attempts and often frustration, reinforcing the idea that there is no hope. Don't give up; meeting more therapists is normal before finding the right match.
Starting on the Right Foot, the Counselling Relationship Must Be Based on Mutual Trust.
Feeling safe and respected are the basic needs for every healthy relationship. This is even more so with your counsellor. Opening up to a stranger about your difficulties, vulnerabilities, and fears takes a lot. Everything that will come up in most sessions is a very personal and often painful topic.
“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when
you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”
Shannon L. Alder
Getting Ready for Your Counselling Journey.
1. The Therapist: Starting with the Right Step
A professional counsellor must have completed a recognised course. This is the guarantee that the counsellor has completed adequate study and training.
Registered with a recognised counselling association. This guarantees the recognition of required qualifications and regular further development.
A registered counsellor undertakes supervision regularly. This ensures the commitment to deliver an excellent service.
There are many different counselling approaches. Find a therapist familiar with an approach that resonates with you; it will help the healing process.
Check your budget. Therapy may require several sessions. Some counsellors have access to Medicare or health funds; others don't but offer lower fees instead.
2. How to Prepare for Your First Counselling Session
Relax; the first session is mainly a know-each-other, and you can decide the pace. None will force you to open up until you don't feel ready.
Think about your goals and questions.
Ask questions about any of your doubts.
Remind yourself that there are no stupid questions.
Therapy is not a quick fix. Depending on your concerns, it may require several sessions. Give yourself time.
Read the contract and cancellation policy.
Allow yourself the time you need; starting counselling can feel daunting.
Do you feel safe, seen and respected during the session?
Can you allow yourself to be vulnerable?
Does the therapist interrupt you while you are talking?
Do you feel your emotions validated during the session?
Does the therapist give you enough time to gather your thoughts?
How does your body respond during and after a therapy session?
Do you feel a sense of relief after a session? And if not, do you feel safe enough to talk about it?
Does the therapist respect your time and is punctual?
“Don’t let mental blocks control you. Set yourself free.
Confront your fear and turn the mental blocks into building blocks.”
4. Your Counselling Journey Will Be Successful if You:
Build a positive connection with your therapist
Are open to feeling uncomfortable.
Feel safe enough to open up.
Can be vulnerable with the therapist.
Feel free to say if you feel triggered during the session.
The therapist expects your journey to bring up challenging emotions and is trained to help you handle them. It may be a good time to change if the therapist is not a good match. But if your gut feelings approve of your therapist, allow yourself to be vulnerable and open up.
5. Your Counselling Journey Guide in a Nutshell:
You likely experience complicated emotions during your sessions. This is normal as you try to unravel painful thoughts, find meaning to what is happening and seek clarity. Be patient with yourself.
To make the counselling process a positive experience, trust in your counsellor is a must to feel safe while opening up about fragilities, fears, and feelings of unworthiness or shame.
Everyone has a busy life. Your counsellor will offer you the tools to explore and understand better your journey. However, the work to get there is yours. No counsellor can do that for you; find time between sessions to think of what came up, and if the counsellor gives you homework, find the time to do it.
Feelings such as anger and abandonment are likely to show up; sometimes, these can be directed toward your counsellor. Be open about that; your counsellor won't take it personally and can help you work out these feelings positively.
“If counselling is a process of discovery and recovery,
then grace is essential to help clients experience enough safety
to explore the hidden places of their lives.”
Mark R. McMinn
Finally, human connection is critical for effective therapy; building that sense of connection is essential. Whether you meet your therapist in person or online, there should be a strong sense of safety, and you should feel comfortable enough to express challenging feelings and concerns to improve your emotional health.
When unpleasant feelings rule your day for too long, it's time to reach out. Remember that you don't have to face everything alone and find someone you trust to talk to.
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