Are you interested in starting counselling or therapy? Have you been feeling like there is a need for a change in your life and you would like someone to support you with that? Wondering how you even get started?
If you have had any of these thoughts then you are in the right place! Here are some of the things I encourage others to do before starting therapy:
- Know what you want to work on or what your goals are
Your first session in therapy will most likely be around setting goals – your therapist will be asking you questions about what brings you to counselling in order to h=better understand what is troubling you and what it is that you want to work on. By coming in with an idea of what it is that brings you to counselling, and what you want the end result to look like, the better developed your sessions will be with your therapist.
- Decide if you are paying privately or want to go through your extended health benefits
Finances are always important to consider when thinking about counselling. It will cost on average, between $110-$120 per session with a Registered Clinical Counsellor in BC, and $160+ per session for a Registered Psychologist. Counselling is absolutely an invest in yourself, but you need to decide for yourself, how you would like to go about doing it. I encourage each person who contacts me to check with their Extend Health Coverage through work or other funding, to see what is available to them for funded counselling, especially if finances are a consideration. If you are paying privately, make sure you also discuss your financial limits with your prospective counsellor in regards to the number of sessions you are willing to pay for and over what period of time. This conversation can help structure your counselling sessions to a time frame that works for you, while not putting additional strain on your finances.
- Do your research to find possible counsellors
Not every counsellor is able to support every issue – each of us has strengths in particular areas that makes us better equipped to support you in your needs. Do your homework here. Look up counsellors in your area and who specialise in the topics you are most wanting to discuss. Finding a counsellor who has experience and knowledge in particular areas might be better able to support you and understand your struggles over a counsellor who has not experienced support others with that concern. My example here to help highlight this is that if you are an adult who is struggling with work stress, attending to a counsellor who specialises in children with developmental abilities might not be the best match. Do your research by searching those in your area and with one or more of the topics you want to address. Then check out their websites and online presence to see if you think they might be a good fi for you. Then give them a call or send an email to further discuss.
- Find a good fit
Just as we judge how we feel with others in our lives, you also need to judge how you feel with your counsellor. Once you have narrowed down the options for potential counsellors in your area, who specialize in what you are looking for, give them a call or send them an email (if available) and connect. Get a sense of who they are and if you feel that you would want to develop a professional relationship with them. Remember, your first impression here is what might set one counsellor a part from the rest. Go with the candidate that feels the best for you. Most counsellors will give you a free 15-minute phone consultation to help you determine if it is a good fit.
- Recognize that Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither were you
Just like building a city, therapy is not going to solve the issue in the first session. Therapy can take a bit of time – you need to feel comfortable enough to share what is weighing on your heart and body, and you need to take time to practice the suggestions and concepts discussed in session. This here is where I would like to remind you to make sure that you are aware of the timeline/number of sessions you and your therapist agreed up at the beginning of your therapy. If you have a limited number of sessions, you may not be getting at the route of the issue but instead building strategies and tools to help you cope with the issue that brought you into counselling. Likewise, when you have time to spend working on the issue, you will have to first develop strategies to help you when you and your counsellor begin to work at the root of the issue, so that you can manage out in the wold in between sessions. This will all take time, but be patient with yourself. You are doing all the hard work.
- Only go because you want to
Counselling will only work if you want it to. Being forced to come to counselling when you are not open to it does not allow for change to occur. I believe that we will only change things when we want to, and not when we don’t. The resistance in the room may prevent good work from happening. If you are not the one who wants to be in the counselling room, perhaps taking sometime first, to determine what it is that you would like, would be a good option. If you would like support in deciding on what you would like, counselling may be beneficial as a very brief support.
- Know that things only change when you work at them
Just because you have decided to go to counselling, does not mean that the hard work is done. While the counselling session may indeed be a lot of work, and perhaps takes a lot out of you, it is the content of your sessions that will need to be contemplated, reviewed, tried and reassessed throughout the time in between your sessions and after. Just as you have to work hard in your job to grow, learn and move forward, so too is the perspective in counselling. But you know you can do it, it is part of the reason why you came to counselling – to make a change for the better in your life. Believe in yourself that the hard work is worth it and you will see the results.
If you are interested in beginning counselling, please feel free to contact me. I am happy to provide a 15-minute free consultation over the phone to help you determine if I am the right fit for you.