So, what's it really like in a counselling session?
There are numerous different forms of counselling (modalities) and each therapist (as with all humans) are different. Counselling sessions are based on the professional competencies of the therapist and the needs of each client. I, of course, cannot offer information about what counselling sessions are like for all therapists, nor can I offer a definitive outlook of what each session is like with me (as all clients are different and the therapy is structured according to this), but I can offer a general outline of how sessions may look, with me.
What happens first?
Once you have contacted me with an expression of interest (a short section, found at the bottom of my web page), I make contact with you to arrange a telephone conversation at a mutually convenient time for us both. This telephone conversation involves a general chat about what is going on for you and the reasons you feel you may want to start counselling. A big part of this chat is focused on us. How are we interacting during this conversation? Do you feel like you can talk to me and vice versa? Does what I offer sound like something that you need? Do my skills and experience, ‘fit’, in accordance with your needs? What are we sensing from our connection right now?
I ask you to take some time after our initial telephone conversation to reflect on your experience of the chat we have just had. There are no expectations at all; this is your choice, your time and your life. It is up to you to decide what happens next and what you feel is best for you. Should you decide that this is something that you want, you can text or email me to let me know that you would like to proceed. From this, we select a time to meet for our first session. Currently, this is either via video or telephone (due to Covid 19).
At this stage, I send you (electronically) a ‘shared agreement/contract’, which states the logistics and structure of the therapy sessions that will take place, in accordance with my professional body (BACP). This document covers aspects such as confidentiality, data protection, the modality of therapy to be undertaken and the best way to prepare for our first session. It is important for me, that you know that I operate in a professional manner and follow guidelines relating to any sensitive, personal information that may be shared during the sessions that will subsequently take place.
The counselling session
So, here you are, having an actual counselling session. What happens? What do we do? These are very common ponderings (especially if you have never had any therapy before). For me, heartfelt connection and presence are the most important aspects, throughout. My philosophy is that you lead and I walk alongside you. This might look like you talking and me asking questions, or reflecting key parts of what you have said, getting a sense of how life is for you, how you are feeling about things, what it’s like to be you, how you function in the world and how you see things.
From this, we can start to establish deeper connection. We may pause at certain points and explore specific things. We might wonder about what makes you, you, how certain experiences may have impacted on where you find yourself today. We may delve into key ‘stuff’ that is there inside of you, that might be causing you to react and respond in specific ways to things in your life. There may be challenging parts, comforting parts, ‘lightbulb’ moments and everything in between. We might use creative tools (if this is something that you enjoy), there may be music, art, movement; different ‘scenarios’ played out. Lots that can happen, all taken at your pace, in your time, respectful of your holistic wellbeing. Most importantly? There is no ‘judgement’ or any ‘conditions’ placed upon you. It’s safe here, to talk about things you mightn’t have said to anyone before.
So, why do we do this? How will it help?
Counselling is a process. This process involves you ‘sharing’ (think of a bottle that is full up to the top with liquid, that is gently and safely poured out). Doing this with a ‘witnessing other’ (me), can help ease the load that you have been carrying. It provides a space for you to share your innermost feelings and experiences and can enable and empower your authenticity within your life. Meeting ‘another’ in this way, can help you to step into your life (in and outside of the therapy room) with confidence and assurance that being you, is absolutely okay; more than okay, being you, in all your uniqueness, is a wonderful thing indeed.
Counselling sessions are unique, catered to you, centred around what you need and respectfully monitored throughout.
So, there it is, a general overview of a potential counselling session with me. And as the widely respected teacher and author, (David Bedrick) states.................. “The medicine is in the mystery.”
Who knows what might unfold?