If you are trying therapy out for the first time or maybe returning to counseling, I hope the information below if helpful as you start this journey. Something tells me you are in counseling because you want something to be different, and that has lead you here. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your counseling experience.
Make appointments a priority
You are investing your time, energy, money and the scariest thing, your emotions into this experience. The first step to change is show up! Life happens so its understandable to cancel or reschedule, but only when unavoidable. Think about it this way, you didn’t learn new and wonderful skills by willing them into existence, you had to take the time to commit to them and practice. Counseling works the same way.
Take risks and try new things
Counseling can be scary; you have to try new things, create new habits. If creating habits was easy, we would all be our perfect versions of ourselves all the time. Your counselor is here to help you through making those changes. Here’s the truth: one hour of counseling, one time per week will not change your life. It’s what you do in that one hour and what you take back to try out in the real world that can change your life. Counselors are going to teach you new techniques and skills which might seem strange at first, but with practice they will become second nature. We need you to be willing to take some risks and try those things your counselor called a “coping skill” and see what happens, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Take responsibility for your mental health
Come prepared, be honest, do the work. Remember you chose to go to counseling, use that time to work on what you want to work on. It’s okay to come with a list, bring a topic or take notes. As a clinician, I am only as successful as my client. The ones who come prepared to make a change and talk through their concerns then apply it in the real world are the ones who can walk out feeling better. We are here every step of the way, but you are responsible to put your mental health first. Make you a priority.
Counselors are not magicians, when we graduate or get licensed they did not give us a magic wand, although the wand would have been nice. But, we are human. Tell us what worked, what didn’t work, and be honest. The more feedback you give us, the more helpful we can be. Feedback allows us to be better at our jobs and to make sure we’re being as effective as we can be. Because, our job is to help you.
I love what I do and I love when someone comes back to me and says “Hey I tried that thing you told me and I felt so much better!” We want you to get something out of your counseling experience. If you do the work, things will change, I fully believe that.