Sooner is better than later
Often people leave having counselling until they are in crisis or at the end of what they can cope with on their own. This is understandable as it can feel like a big step and is sometimes easier to keep on going, hoping that things will improve on their own. The thing is though – the sooner you come, the less time you will probably need to spend in counselling. Learning new skills and changing patterns of thinking and behaving is quicker and easier when we are not in fire fighting mode. Making changes BEFORE they escalate to a crisis point is good prevention and builds resilience for the future.
You get out, what you put in
Counselling is one of those activities where the more you put in, the more you will get out. If possible, try and give yourself time after sessions to decompress by talking a walk or writing in a journal. Make time to reflect on your session and remind yourself what you wish to work during the week. Before your next session take some time to reflect on what you want to focus on and what goals you are working towards and come prepared. The more proactive you can be the more you will benefit from your counselling.
Your therapist will not judge you
Your therapist will meet you with non-judgemental acceptance. It is their role to see the world through your eyes and understand what it feels like to be you and why you may feel and behave the way you do. Therapists understand that people are a complicated mix of genetics, environment and experiences and they want to help you understand yourself better so you can have a healthier happier life. Just because they won’t judge you though, doesn’t mean they won’t challenge you sometimes if it is in your best interests to do so, but this will always be done in a gentle and supportive way.
Your therapist won’t be shocked
Your therapist has most likely heard it all before. That secret you hold, that shame that you feel, the experiences you have been through, may feel overwhelming and even unspeakable, but an experienced therapist will not be shocked by anything you say and will be able to listen, understand and empathise with you. They will support you and help you work through the things that have been festering inside you and help you to heal.
Your Therapist is not the expert
Okay, this is only partially true. Your therapist will have studied and trained and certainly have tools and strategies that they can offer you. They will also have a deep understanding of how different experiences affect people and how people change and heal. BUT – only you really know what it feels like to be you and YOU are the expert on YOU. Your therapist’s role is to support you to find your own answers through the journey of self-discovery and self-awareness and offer suggestions and insights that may be helpful along the way.
You may possibly feel worse before you feel better
Sorry but it’s true. If you have spent years ignoring how you feel, pushing things down and pretending to yourself that some things didn’t even happen, it is going to be a bit messy unravelling it again. Talking about these things can uncover deep emotions and leave you feeling vulnerable and a bit overwhelmed. This is why your therapists should check in with you before you leave the sessions that you are feeling safe and grounded and have the support you need. Although this may be hard for you, talking about these thing is like cleaning the infection out of a wound so it can heal and this is what you are working towards.
Talking is healing
Sometimes it may feel that all you are doing is talking and although it feels nice to be listened to, it may also feel a bit pointless – but it really isn’t. To be really listened to by another person who is focussed completely on understanding your experience has a healing impact on the brain and mind, calming down the heart rate and supporting emotional regulation. Getting all the thoughts and feelings that are bottled up inside out into the open releases their power over you and helps you gain power over them. Being really heard by another person is incredibly validating and healing
Hurting people, hurt people
There are always reasons why we think, feel, act and react the ways we do and these cycles repeat themselves. It takes one person in a family to have the courage to get the healing they need to end destructive patterns and cycles of dysfunction and begin a new story for the generations to come. Gaining some understanding into why people may have treated you the way they have, doesn’t make it okay but it can help you to let go of anger and resentment so that you can heal and move forward.
You don’t have to drag up the past
We are all products of our past and often our childhood experiences provide vital keys into understanding why we are the way we are. BUT sometimes we just need some tools and strategies to help us with what is going on right now in our lives without a deeper exploration into the reasons and meanings. If that’s the case for you, then let your counsellor know that you want your counselling focussed on the present and to learn tools, strategies and coping skills rather than exploring the past.
Your therapist is learning from you too
No two people are the same and everyone’s experience of being themselves is different. This is why there is never a one size fits all approach to therapy. The counselling relationship is a unique relationship within which you will both grow and learn from each other. Every counselling session provides your therapist with the unique opportunity to view life, the world and human experience through the eyes of another human being which is the honour and a privilege of being a therapist.