Deciding to go to therapy can be an enormous step for some people. That said, it is an essential leap to take in order to overcome issues such as depression, anxiety, or doubts about your self-worth. Naturally, the uncertainty prevails when you walk into the counsellor’s office for the first time.
Getting the best out of your counselling sessions requires focused reflection and spontaneity. The primary goal is to remain at ease so that the therapeutic process is more effective. If you’re finding it hard, here are a few ways to feel focused and centred, so you can make the most of your session – and see some results.
Find the right counsellor
Not every counsellor will be able to help you cope with your emotional and mental health issues. For instance, if you’re having relationship problems, you must visit one specialising in advising couples. If you’re having trouble dealing with work-related stress, consider visiting a counsellor with expertise in the area. More importantly, the counsellor you chose to visit needs to be qualified and experienced enough to nudge you in the right direction. Counsellors are diverse in their approach to treatment. It is sensible that not every client-counsellor relationship will be the right fit unless the counsellor’s expertise matches your needs. This is the first step to seeking proper and effective help.
Begin by honing what you seek guidance for and search counsellors who specialise in whatever that may be. Fortunately, the field has amassed a considerable amount of popularity recently because of the flexible nature of the job and the potential to earn big money. Additionally, the internet has made completing the professional route pretty straightforward, with many masters in counselling online degrees to choose from and pursue. Regardless, it is wise to be diligent while narrowing your options down and finding the right counsellor for yourself.
Have some therapeutic goals
Counseling isn’t just about improving mental health. It is also about changing a person’s maladaptive behaviour and modifying the cognitive structure. That said, setting goals is an imminent part of making your counselling session successful. Without identifying what you wish to achieve after a few sessions, you won’t benefit from the healing process.
Asking yourself questions like, ‘What will it look like when I am doing better?’ ‘What will change?’ Your counsellor will collaborate with you to set realistic and attainable goals for the sessions to be effective. By setting specific goals, you can track your achievements along the way, and in turn, you are more likely to reach your goals.
Let go of fear
If you think opening up to a counsellor is intimidating, you are not in solitude. Many people clam up on their way into the office and feel reluctant to open up while sitting on the couch. However, inhibitions and fear can render an entire counselling session useless. To get the most out of your counselling session, learn to relax.
Enter the office with an understanding that your counsellor isn’t going to magistrate you. Unconditional positive regard is the hallmark of excellent therapists. Regardless of the style they practice, they will never judge you. Your session should be a safe space where you can be raw and talk about literally anything that bothers you. So don’t hesitate.
Do not expect your counsellor to ‘fix’ you
In a predicament, we often yearn for liberation as soon as possible and feel like we’ve run short of options. That said, when a person feels unhappy or sore, they might put pressure on an expert to “fix” them. However, that’s the opposite of what counselling is for; it is for helping you realize who you are and not fix you because you are “broken.”
Bulldozing your counsellor to fix you will leave you feeling more disappointed and hopeless. Additionally, getting the worst kind of help can rob you of the chance to find solutions to your emotional and mental health problems. You will not be able to gather the confidence to deal with stressors and anxiety head-on. So instead of expecting your counsellor to redeem you by waving a magic wand, own your problems and trust the process. Cooperate with the professional rather than expecting them to solve everything.
Do your homework
Does your counsellor want you to keep a journal every week? Or test out some of their advice in practical situations? Or take medications? If so, always follow through with every instruction to the very last detail. Doing your homework allows for improved continuity of treatment between sessions. It keeps you thinking and helps you put your learnings into practice.
Maintaining good mental health is a continuous process and involves several life-related decisions. Realising that you need help and seeking it are two such decisions. With the help of these tips, you can make your counselling sessions more productive and overcome problems. However, it may take time to create the stance to use these, but that’s OK. It is this exercise that makes counselling so potentially powerful. So when the dust settles at the end of the day, remember, life is chaos, achievements are subjective, and confidence is everything. If you apply these suggestions in your counselling sessions, rest assured that your efforts will bear fruit.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.