From the everyday challenges of stress and worry to major life events like a divorce or the death of a loved one, you can seek assistance from a professional counselor for a variety of reasons. Once you have made the decision to see a professional counselor, you might feel uncertain about how to proceed. The following is a list of helpful hints that can help you make the most of your counseling experience.
Check the fit
It is essential that you find a professional counselor that is a good fit for you. You will want to find a counselor with whom you are comfortable. Because there will be times when you will be challenged, confronted or asked to face your fears in counseling, it is important that you have a have a trusting relationship with your counselor.
Mark your calendar
The time of your counseling session is saved for you each week and it is important that you arrive on time and consistently attend your appointments. If you are unable to regularly attend sessions, it can be more difficult to work towards your goals.
It is normal for you to feel hesitant, uncomfortable, or embarrassed to discuss your life with a counselor. You might worry or wonder about what the counselor will think of you if you are completely honest. What you share with the counselor will help to guide the direction of future sessions, so your honesty is important. It is also helpful to be open about how your counseling is going. By discussing what is working and not working in your counseling, you and the counselor can make changes or adjustments that may better meet your needs.
You are a complex being, as are your problems.Some problems or issues have existed or been reinforced for quite some time and will likely take time and effort to change. Be patient with yourself as you gain insight and awareness and develop and try new skills. You might see change and growth in small amounts before you see it larger more noticeable ways.
In counseling sessions you will be discussing your issues, but outside of counseling and between sessions is when you will be facing those issues. From one session to the next, it is important that you reflect on what you have learned or are processing in counseling, complete any homework your counselor has assigned, and keep an open mind about trying new things or practicing new skills. Ask your counselor what you can do during the week to facilitate change and growth.
From the beginning of counseling, talk with your counselor about how you will determine when to end counseling. You might think about ending counseling prematurely. As soon as you start to feel better you might decide you no longer need counseling. Feeling better can be a sign of progress but ending too early may only give you temporary results. If you are feeling worse than when you began counseling, you might feel discouraged and want to quit. Feeling worse can mean that you are no longer avoiding a tough issue or that you are doing the difficult work of making changes. Sometimes feeling worse is a sign of deterioration and signals a need for an adjustment in the course of your counseling. If you are thinking of discontinuing counseling, talk about your thoughts and feelings with your counselor.