Therapy, also called counseling or psychotherapy, is a journey. And like all the other journeys it can feel like an incursion into the unknown. The goal of therapy is aimed at decreasing overall emotional stress and other factors that may interfere with your emotional health. It is imperative to work with someone you feel safe with in order to identify your emotional problems and ways to work through them.
Counseling is not reserved only for persons who have suffered emotional and psychological trauma. Therapy can be of benefit at any point in your life. You can turn to a therapist for a multitude of reasons. If you feel like you simply can’t find your balance or you can’t reach your goals, therapy may be what you’re searching for. Mental health is critical and getting help is not something anyone should be ashamed of.
Many people who take their first step on the path to emotional healing and contact a therapist feel a sense of anxiety and uneasiness before their first therapy session. I am here to tell you that this is natural. After all, it can feel overwhelming and frightening to open up. Our role, as therapists, is to create a welcoming and safe environment for you to face your demons and emerge victoriously. Since professional therapists are bound by confidentiality, they will never betray your trust.
What is the counseling process?
The first counseling sessions will focus on getting to know one another. The initial visit will involve filling out paperwork with information about your medical history and medical record, as well as about your health insurance in some cases. You will also fill out a questionnaire about your symptoms and sign a therapy-patient services agreement.
During the first therapy session, we will establish why you have sought out counseling and talk about your life in general. I will ask you about your symptoms and what you feel is wrong. We will talk about your childhood and education and discuss a bit about your relationships, career, and current situation.
It’s useful to come prepared with something to talk about concerning yourself because therapy is about you! Never forget that talking about yourself is not a selfish act in therapy. It is recommended and encouraged! You will share only what you feel like sharing and go deeper when you are ready. Therapy is and always will be about patience. Patience with yourself and patience with the therapeutic process itself. Deeper issues will be discussed only when you feel you can talk about them.
Therapists never judge their patients. They conceptualize the issue to get to the root of the problem. I will never criticize you or make you feel uncomfortable about anything you feel the need to share with me. We will focus only on your emotions and try to establish what you feel concerning the situations you’re dealing with. Following a few counseling sessions, I hope we can delve into the depth of your being and bring to the surface the real issues that torment you.
How can counselors help?
Before going into therapy, you need to be aware of the fact that counselors will not have the answers for you. They don’t give advice and make the decisions for you. The entire therapy process focuses on your healing journey. You will be the one that identifies the emotions associated with the problems in your life and you will have to learn how to manage and face them. There are no shortcuts in therapy. Your goals for therapy should be realistic, honest, and clear. Your counselor will be there for you every step of the way guiding you along your revelatory inner journey.
While therapists don’t have the solution to your problem, they know how to help you find it. And this is vital for your mental health. You need to remember that your therapy process is based on a relationship with your therapist. You should be clear about what you want to obtain from therapy and what your expectations and preferences are.
While compassionately listening is an important part of the counseling process, therapists will also ask questions. The questions and tone used are meant to create a friendly space that invites open and honest discussions. Counselors use various techniques like person-centered therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, attachment-focused therapy, or existential therapy to help you achieve your mental health goals and open yourself to healing.
How long does therapy usually last?
The length of your treatment depends on a multitude of factors. As you probably already know, therapy requires time and not many issues can be solved with just a couple of counseling sessions. You may need counseling services for just a couple of weeks or it can take years to fully overcome the issue that brought you to them. However, the effects of therapy will be felt from the very first sessions and you will be able to notice improvements on a daily basis. Each consultation will take you one step closer to your goals.
Whether you need a therapist for relationship counseling or you’re dealing with stress, anxiety, family concerns, illness, or depression, the length of your treatment will be impossible to know at the beginning. However, since some insurance plans cover only several sessions, it’s understandable that some hope to find the solution to their problems in the shortest amount of time. It’s important that these things are discussed with your therapist at the outset because a financial fit is also an important part of the process.
My counseling experience allows me to assess your needs, discuss and select treatment options, and guide you toward self-improvement and self-care. My personal goal is to help you walk out the door feeling better than when you arrived. Each and every session will take you a step closer to finding your voice, embracing your story, and feeling whole. This might take time but it will be the best investment you will ever make.