The beginning of counselling involves us meeting and getting a sense of each other. Its important that you are assessing me in the first few sessions. This involves you getting a sense of whether we are a good therapeutic fit, that you could work with me, and that you feel at ease telling your story and discussing what brings you to counselling. Upon getting mutual sense of what you would like from counselling, and having some clarity on what the issues are that you would like to explore, we will create some mutually agreed goals and areas of focus for the work.
Collaboratively we will then discuss what sort of contract or commitment you would like to make to counselling. Contracts may be short, 6 sessions, or longer as some goals may take longer to actualize than others. As circumstances change and different areas of focus arise contracts are reviewed to assess progress and direction of the work. As part of my work I undertake ongoing discussionswith you on how we are going, checking in with you if you are getting what you want from our work and if there is anything we can change about the therapeutic process.
I understand my therapeutic role as a collaborative one whereby I will explore the work with you, and support you, to get in touch with what is most important to you and what choices and directions in life feel the most growthful and healthiest for you to follow. I utilize my expertise to help you access your own resources, strengths, clarity about what you need/desire, your ability to engage in life with greater satisfaction and to discover your own life-solutions and places of growth.
My aim is to provide an accepting, validating, non-judgmental therapeutic space and relationship. This becomes a place where you may feel accepted and where you may learn to accept yourself and those parts of you you struggle with. Being ok with who you are is an important step to recognizing who you may become.
I will support you in discussing anything you feel important, including issues you may not have shared with others in the past due to fear or lack of support. I will help you to learn to manage strong emotions and to engage with past hurts until they cease to have such a strong impact in your life. I encourage you to bring all of who you are to this work.
Sometimes our focus will be on your thoughts, sometimes on your feelings, sometimes on your behaviours, sometimes on your life-context/situation and how all these are connected to how you are in the world and in relationship to other people. Often the focus will be on our relationship and how you are with me is a mirror to how you are with other people. This work enables you to understand how you organize your experience, to understand yourself better and to begin to access new, healthier and more satisfying ways of being.
Therapeutic work on improving, changing or accepting stuck patterns of being or painful areas in our lives isn’t always smooth, predictable and painless. It will require patience and commitment on your part, as well as skill and expertise on my part. With the challenges of therapy, though, come the joys of discovering areas of your life you may have lost touch with, or may have never known, and the new or deeper sense of self that arises as part of the work.
When to end therapy is up to you. Our contract may come to an end and you may feel satisfied or you may extend the contract or not. Some people come for a block of work and have a break before returning again. I like to discuss endings and spend some time integrating the work as we finish up.
Counselling or psychotherapy is many things to many people. It can be:
- support during times of stress and distress,
- a place of learning and the undertaking of a journey in self-exploration.
- a space to focus on changing particular unsatisfying habits.
- a confidential space to explore areas of your life you cant elsewhere.
- a way of accessing vitality/resilience and confidence.
- a space of deep-healing of past hurts and a moving on to horizons not yet foreseen.
- a place to learn self-acceptance and let go of old shame and guilt.
- ongoing support for a chronic mental health condition.
- a place for the learning of practical life-strategies.
- an exploration of how you relate to other people by engaging in a therapeutic relationship with a therapist.
- a place of creativity, joy and connection.
- or all of the above…and more.
I encourage you to be open to what therapy can be for you.