What happens in the Counselling Sessions?
The first session
The first session is a bit different to the rest of the counselling sessions in the sense that I need to find out what is troubling you and hear your concerns or story. Asking some questions will help me understand what has happened as well as the impact on you in terms of your reactions. It gives you the opportunity to get a feel for whether you are comfortable with me and whether you feel I could be of assistance to you.
I always start off very generally asking a little bit about what you do or how you spend your day and also about your hobbies and interests. Finding out a little bit about the people who are important to you is also helpful as it starts to build a picture of your life. I will ask both general and specific questions regarding the issue or concerns you have at the present moment and also how you came to seek out counselling.
Using some questions gives you the opportunity to tell your concerns in a structured and safe way as sometimes re-telling our stories to another person can be traumatic and leave us feeling exposed or vulnerable. It also helps to break down a lot of information into a coherent shape.
There is always time at the end to debrief about the session and for you to ask any questions you may still have. Occasionally I might refer a client onto another organisation or practitioner if the issue or concern is outside my expertise or if I feel another professional may be a better fit. I will set some homework for you to complete as initially I need more information about what happens at home or at work to fill in the gaps of my knowledge.
I will start the counselling work with you from session 2 onwards which will involve finding out how you have been since last session and also listening to your feedback around the homework task. Once I have re-engaged with you we will work together to find a focus for the session.
My role is to help find safe ways to build awareness of feelings and their effect on you and to aid the expression of feelings when appropriate. Becoming aware of emotions and expressing them when safe to do so can help foster understanding and empathy for self and others. Learning to regulate feelings and hold reactivity allows for a deeper sharing and connection with self and loved ones.
Coming to an end
By the end of your therapy you will have a range of strategies in place to minimise the risk of relapse or a variety of methods to manage your symptoms. Often people know instinctively when therapy should come to an end.
You will need to give me one session's advanced notice of your intention to finish the counselling so closure for both parties can be achieved in a final meeting.
How long will it take?
You may have a rough idea of how many sessions you want before you start therapy or you may be unsure as to how many you will need. It depends upon many factors including the nature of the presenting problem, its severity, whether external support is available, financial and personal commitment to the therapy.
Ultimately it depends upon your needs and the pace you would like to work at.