Growing awareness of the importance of mental health is encouraging increasing numbers of people to seek help through counselling and psychotherapy. With employers recognising the need to be more supportive and with concern about mental health being pushed further up political and educational agendas, there is greater recognition in the importance of taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions.
What is Counselling Like?
Making the decision to attend therapy and booking your first appointment can feel daunting when you have no idea what to expect. Here we offer an insight into what counselling is like.
The 1st session
It is understandable and normal to feel apprehensive particularly before your first session but counsellors are experienced and trained to help you feel at ease. They will often begin by explaining the process of the initial consultation, confidentiality policies and answer any questions you might have about the administration of the sessions or the centre itself.
They will then move on to explore your decision to seek help and what you hope to get out of it. You might find yourself getting everything out straight away or you may take time to open up and only do so once you have a stronger relationship with the therapist. There is no right or wrong way of doing it and the counsellor will go at a pace that is comfortable for you.
The important thing is to be open and honest. If you are able to talk about your feelings then the counsellor will listen and explore your situation, but if struggle to open-up it can be equally productive to think about why it is so difficult to be open. It is important to understand that your counsellor will not judge you or give their opinions, this is simply the first step in getting to know each other.
At the first session you will be asked to complete some forms that will help your therapist understand you better.
Subsequent sessions are usually at the same time and day each week and you will be allocated to a counsellor who will see you for the duration of the work. Sessions normally last for fifty minutes.
As you get know your counsellor you will find it easier to open up about your thoughts and feelings and together you will explore the ways in which these are affecting you and gain a deeper understanding from where these feelings have come.
We are all products of our childhoods and lived experiences, so having the opportunity to reflect on these events can help you make links and better understand yourself and your situation. Although this work can be uncomfortable and you may find yourself feeling emotional or upset, your counsellor will work at your pace and provide a safe place for you to work through your difficulties.