Choosing to start counselling can be an intimidating decision. Knowing that you will probably need to share your deepest fears, insecurities and memories with a stranger can be off-putting, particularly when there are no guarantees that they will be able to help.
But we’d be willing to bet that you have tried to solve your problem on your own, and haven’t been successful. Despite your best efforts, and likely those of your family and friends as well, your problems and concerns continue to be a barrier to you living your best life. Seeking help is the next step in trying to take down these barriers.
Counselling can help you to:
Identifying and framing the exact problem you are dealing with;
Discovering the steps and actions you can take to solve your problem; and
Implementing meaningful changes to help you live your ideal life:
Achieve the best outcome by addressing underlying needs.
There is no doubt that counselling can help. Research shows that, if couples seek help early and find the right therapist, counselling can help to resolve marital issues and get relationships back on track. Despite this, 40% of couples who divorce have not sought counselling before getting divorced, preferring to talk instead to family and friends (who can’t provide the much-needed perspective that couples experiencing difficulties need!).
This means that much of the success of counselling comes down to you – how you choose and engage with your counsellor, and whether you are able to make the most of your counsellor’s expertise and experience.
Think of a counsellor like a guide and a mentor. They can work with you to identify and find solutions to your problems. But they can’t solve your problems for you. Counselling will work for you if you:
have an open mind and heart;
are committed to making the most of each session you attend; and
use the sessions as a launching pad to make meaningful and real changes in your life.
How to ensure counselling works for you
1 Seek help early
For couples, seeking help early can avoid a long period of building frustration and resentment. What is often initially a fairly simple and easily solvable problem can grow to an insurmountable and difficult problem if hurt feelings and resentment are piled on top of the initial problem. Working through those feelings can often be more difficult than the initial problem. Words can be hurtful, and often can’t be taken back.
When you start to experience any or all of the following, it is time to talk to an independent expert to get your relationship back on track:
breakdown in communication;
constant or increased (either frequency or severity) fights;
loss of intimacy and connection; or
emotional or physical withdrawal.
2 Find someone you trust
Finding the right counsellor is critical. If you work with someone who doesn’t align with your values and approach to life, it can result in more problems than solutions. We often hear from our clients that they have taken years between seeing counsellors because they had a bad experience. This can delay or derail their ability to find a solution and make meaningful improvements to their lives.
Take the time to research your counsellor. Find out about their approach, read or watch testimonial, read their blog posts and articles – really familiarise yourself with their outlook and approach and ensure that it aligns with your own. There are many different approaches to counselling and each approach may be suitable for different problems or individuals. For example, at Metanao we practice solution focused counselling.
Most counsellors also offer free initial consultations, usually by telephone. Take this opportunity to ask any questions you have about the counsellor’s approach, and try to have a real conversation with them to gauge whether the counsellor’s personality is one that you can connect with. It is important that you feel comfortable and safe with whichever counsellor you decide to see.
Importantly, recognise that counsellors are usually people who are driven to help others – nobody has bought a yacht from the proceeds of counselling! This innate compassion, combined with years of training and experience, ensures that they are focussed on helping you find a solution to your problems. They are not judging you. This leads us to our last tip:
3 Be open and honest
Any counsellor can only help you if you are open and transparent with them. If they are missing pieces of the puzzle while they are working with you, then the solutions you reach with them may not be appropriate or may only address part of your problem. Try to be accurate and truthful in your sessions, and practice self-reflection. Solution focused therapists believe that each person holds the key to their own solutions and happiness. For each problem you encounter in your life, you have the tools within you to resolve them and work towards your ideal future. A counsellor, with the right information, can help you to identify what you need to do to get there.
Find out if we're the right fit for your! Call Sue now on 0439 294 532 for a FREE initial consultation.
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