What to expect
Most counsellors offer a free introductory session on request. This initial session usually lasts for 20 to 30 minutes – allowing you both to meet to discuss what brings you to counselling and possible ways that you might work together.
During this time you need to begin to consider if the counsellor is someone you could work with, and that the counselling accommodation and the times you are both available are compatible so that you will be able to attend for counselling on a regular basis. It is also an opportune time to confirm payment arrangements. Your counsellor will ask you for payment at the end of each session, by cash or cheque. It is not appropriate to pre-pay for sessions in advance.
The counsellor needs to listen to what you say to enable her to ascertain if she has the skills to meet your needs. Then together you will be able to work out a preliminary unwritten agreement of how you might work. This agreement would then be reviewed as the counselling progresses.
When this initial session is over, you don’t have to make your mind up immediately. It is quite usual to go and think things over, and you might want to meet with several counsellors before you decide which one you are going to work with. However, once you have made up your mind most counsellors are very grateful if you let them know what you have decided to do.
A counselling session generally lasts between 50 to 60 minutes, and you and your counsellor would have agreed a mutually convenient time to meet. To begin with you might have a bit of ‘chit chat’ to relax you both, and during this time you can plan how and what you would like to work on that day.
Your counsellor will keep an eye on the time element; this ensures that you have the time to talk, explore, think, and if necessary to gather yourself and your thoughts together before you leave the counselling session.
Counsellors work on the premiss that each person coming for counselling is a unique individual. It may therefore take a little time for you both to get to know each other and to forge a good therapeutic working relationship.
As this therapeutic relationship develops, it is hoped that through honesty, trust and mutual respect that you will be able to come to understand what it is that is causing you distress or unhappiness. Then once you have an understanding of the difficulty, and how you are affected by it, you will hopefully be able to find a way to use this information to help you to live your life more peacefully in the future. In some instances you might develop useful strategies during the counselling sessions. Part of this process is to regularly review your progress together.
There are many ways of working that include different counselling approaches and varying time frames – discuss these with your counsellor. Some people may only need one or two counselling sessions, whilst others may need to work over a longer period of time. Some people might want to see what they can achieve in a set period of time say 6 or 8 sessions. It is up to you to discuss with your counsellor what might be best for you.