How does counseling help?
Depending on your present situation and your reasons for seeking help, there are many benefits to counseling. It can offer you increased coping skills and open your eyes to new ways of dealing with situations that you may not have been aware of before. Counseling can reduce any pain you carry because of old wounds and can help you diminish unhealthy behaviors driven by those old problems. For instance, if you grew up with overly critical parents or had a rejecting partner, you might still be overly defensive, or angry, or isolating, and these things might get in the way of your happiness. Counseling can help. Finally, counseling can offer problem-solving skills, provide support, and help you work through grief and life changes, allowing you to see your circumstances as a personal growth opportunity instead of a burden or obstacle.
Some specific skills counseling can provide are:
- Emotional management, including, but not limited to anger, jealousy, grief, and depression.
- Coping mechanisms to allow you to work through situations which typically cause you anxiety, fear, or avoidance.
- Stress-management techniques to apply to deal with stress within your everyday life.
- Skills and techniques to help you better navigate relationships, or to work through relationship troubles.
- Problem solving skills for you to enact when you encounter issues which may typically have caused you to shy away or back down, such as social situations or public speaking.
- Improving self-love, self-confidence, and body image.
- Improving communication, listening, and the ability to speak up for yourself.
- Understanding your own skills, strengths, and positive attributes and learning to quiet your inner negative critique.
- Finding a resolution to the issues that originally led you to therapy, such as having panic attacks, or being unable to sleep.
While the decision to begin counseling is an individual choice, in many regards it may be helpful for everyone. There are a wide variety of reasons to begin therapy ranging from a diagnosed mental illnesses to help managing daily stress or a transitional period of your life. It is your treatment plan that will vary based on your individual circumstances.
What to expect in your first appointment?
Your first counseling session has two main goals:
1. Assess your circumstances
We will take the first meeting to assess your current circumstances and explore how you got to where you are now. I will ask you questions about what is working in your life and what is causing you problems, who the major players are, and about your history. You can ask me any questions you have about counseling. From there, we will be able to better determine what type of counseling is right for you, what it will entail, and what it will look like for you in terms of fitting it into your day-to-day life. In addition, I may provide you with a series of actions to do outside of our sessions, such as watching your thinking patterns or practice a certain technique, or read a specific book, as it is important you take on an active role in your healing.
2. Build a relationship
Our first session will be more like a two-way interview. I’ll get to know you, and you’ll get to know me. I will ask you questions to help me better understand your primary issues and concerns, as well as your history in terms of other events in your life, family, childhood, and career. However, you are welcome to ask questions too. In order for counseling to be successful, it is imperative we establish a client/counselor relationship that is supportive and honest. In fact, it is the nature – and the quality – of our relationship that will determine the success of your overall counselor goals. The success of the ‘meeting of the minds’ with your counselor is the most accurate predictor of a positive, healthy outcome to the hard work you put in towards your happiness. As such, each client/counselor relationship will be unique but certain values and themes are true for all sessions, and you can expect the following:
- You can expect to be treated with compassion, empathy, respect, and understanding.
- You can expect to be presented with someone who is available to listen to you and listen to your interpretation of what you are currently experiencing.
- You can expect to receive knowledgeable and scientifically backed techniques and information to assist you in overcoming your personal struggles.
- You can expect to arrive in a safe, supportive, and confidential space.
- You can expect to receive real strategies and techniques you can use to enact positive changes on your life.
I look forward to getting to know you and helping you reach your counseling goals.
Is counseling confidential?
All counseling sessions with me are completely confidential, meaning that everything you discuss with me remains between the two of us, unless you request otherwise. This is as per confidentiality rules mandated by the American Counseling Association, which all counselor legally need to follow, so that no information from the session can be disclosed without prior written consent from the client.
There are a very few exceptions to confidentiality mandates, however. I am legally required to report information from our sessions to legal authorities or appointed persons if any of the following are true:
- I suspect abuse to a child, dependent adult, or an elder. These situations all require me to notify law authorities immediately.
- If I suspect that you have caused, or are threatening to cause severe bodily harm to another person, I am required to report it to the police.
- If you intend harm to yourself or have made plans for suicide. While I’ll attempt to work through this with you in the counseling session, if I have reason to think you still intend to proceed with suicide or self-harm, I will take action to ensure your safety, including notifying appropriate persons and authorities.
- For insurance reimbursement purposes, I will need to disclose any diagnoses assigned. However, I do not currently accept insurance so this is not an issue right now.