Counselling and therapy are both terms that describe talking to a trained professional about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. There are lots of different types (or modalities) of therapy and each counsellor use these in their own unique way. There is no "one-size fits all" approach but there be one type that you decide appeals to you most.
I work from a Person-Centred (or Humanistic) point of view and you can read about this below. There is further information about the different types of therapy on the BACP website.
A common view is that therapy is for people at "crisis point" but this isn't true - talking is helpful at anytime. It is equally beneficial to explore and address issues before they feel overwhelming or out of control. In fact, many people use counselling as a part of self care and as a useful space where it is ok to just think about themselves.
Counselling can help with many difficult life problems from coping with traumatic experiences, managing depression/anxiety or dealing with difficult emotions. Many people find it easy to talk to someone who they see as being separate or an "outsider" to their life. Counsellors can help you make sense of events (past and ongoing) in your life and resolve complicated feelings linked to these.
Others benefits of therapy include: better understanding of yourself, working to change things you want and increasing your self-esteem. You don't have to be at crisis point or feel unwell to have counselling.
The counsellor's role is to provide a safe environment for you to talk to someone who will listen without judging you. The ways they work may differ between modalities but counsellors do not offer advice or "fix" you.
I work by creating a safe space to work together but I feel you are the expert in your own life and have the answers to your own problems. However, I recognise that we sometimes need help in finding them! I help through offering empathy, support and challenge so we make sense of your world and achieve what you want from the sessions.
Counsellors offer a range of session lengths from 50 minutes upwards and my own sessions tend to be 60 minute long. An initial assessment session would be arranged to take place either by face-to-face, on video conference or by telephone. I view this session as a two-way interview - we discuss your needs, how I work and see if we would both like to work together.
If we agree to go ahead with counselling then we would go through the "contract" or "working agreement" to set out the expectations. The professional boundaries are discussed in terms of confidentiality, session focus and how we will work together. I ask that we initially agree a set day, time and session frequency for us to meet and work together. During these times it would be just you and me talking about whatever you want within the session time. Once we are comfortable working together then we may agree changes to the contract as the need arises.
There are no type of people or issue that counselling will work better with and it isn't a quick or magic fix. It may take time to try different counselling approaches to find your best fit. What is more important is wanting help and feel willing/able to explore things that are personal or hard to to talk about. The counsellor's job is to support (not pressure) you to talk about the things important to you.
It is recognised that your relationship with the counsellor can often play a bigger part in the success of therapy than their modality. It can take time to build trust and feel comfortable with the counsellor to open up. But also sometimes it may just not be the right time, place or person for you to work with and counsellor's respect this. However, they should also listen and be open to adapting and working with you to make the sessions work for you.
The Person-centred (Humanistic) approach has an underlying belief that everyone can reach their full potential if given the right conditions. The counsellor's purpose is to create these conditions so that you can become more self-aware and grow (self-actualise). The counsellor does this by:
The counsellor will work with issues you bring to the session and will not lead or direct the focus of the work. They will offer non-judgment (no matter what you discuss) and respect that you are the expert in your own life. They will support you to explore your own issues, feelings, beliefs and behaviours to enable you to make the changes you want. You develop a trusting relationship that supports you in exploring difficult areas but also increase your self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem.
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