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  • What to Expect in Your First Counselling Session

    In your first session, the counsellor typically will ask certain questions about you and your life. This information helps the counsellor make an initial assessment of your situation. Questions asked might include:

    Why you sought counselling

    A particular issue probably led you to seek counselling. The counsellor has to understand your surface problem(s) before they can get to the deeper issues.

    Your personal history and current situation

    The counsellor will ask you a series of questions about your life. For example, because family situations play an important role in who you are, they’ll ask about your family history and your current family situation.

    Your current symptoms

    Other than knowing the reason you sought counselling, the counsellor, will attempt to find out if you’re suffering from other symptoms of your problem. For example, your problem might be causing difficulty at work.

    Don’t just sit there

    Counselling is a team effort. If you don’t take an active part in the session, you won’t find the counselling experience valuable. Here are some things you can do to make your first session as successful as possible.

    Be open

    Counsellors are trained to ask the right questions, but they’re not mind readers. They can do their job more effectively if you answer the questions openly and honestly.

    Be prepared

    Before you get to the session, know how to describe “what’s wrong,” and to describe your feelings about your problem. One way to prepare is to write down the reasons you’re seeking help. Make a list and then read it out loud. Hearing yourself say it a few times will help you describe things more clearly to the counsellor.

    Ask questions

    The more you understand the counselling experience or how counseling works, the more comfortable you’ll be. Ask questions about the therapy process, and ask the counsellor to repeat anything you don’t understand.

    Be open and honest about your feelings

    A lot will be going through your head in this first session. Listen to your own reactions and feelings, and share them with the counsellor. You’ll both learn from these insights.

    Be sure to go to your first session with realistic expectations. Counselling is not a quick fix for your problem, rather it is a process. With some effort on your part and a strong relationship with your counsellor, it can be a successful tool toward resolving problems.

    ⃰ edited from: Bressert, S. (2006). What to Expect in Your First Counseling Session. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-to-expect-in-your-first-counseling-session/000116

  • My Tips for Finding the Right Counsellor

     

    Your therapy is about YOU, not me. I’m glad to share my education and experience with you, but it is only one part of a much larger picture.

    It would be presumptuous of me to tell you who the right therapist is for you. I don’t know you. I don’t know your reasons for going to therapy. I don’t know if you have had therapy before or if you are new to therapy. I don’t know the issues you have been struggling with and what you want to change in your life.

    However, for my part, I will know if I can help once we meet and talk about your concerns.

    Ultimately, you’re the one who needs to decide who would be a good match for you.
    With that mind; here are some suggestions: (more…)

  • The Top 8 Reasons People Say No to Counselling

    Deciding to see a counsellor is often a difficult decision, which takes place over time. In most cases, people don’t feel comfortable when they see a counsellor for the first time. Here are a few of the reasons that prevent or delay people from taking the steps to give counselling a try…

    1. “Receiving counselling is a sign of weakness.”

    Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes courage to address problem areas and examine painful feelings. Entering counselling is taking the first step in resolving difficulties.

    2. “People who go to counseling are crazy. I’m not crazy!”

    Some people who receive counselling feel “sick” in the sense of being unhappy, but you don’t need to be feeling sick or non-functioning to go into counseling, you just need to be feeling stuck. Counselling helps when you have tried to address a situation on your own but your strategies don’t seem to help.

    Asking for help is a sign of maturity, self-awareness and possession of a sense of inner strength.

    3. “Everyone will know what I talk about.”

    All counselling sessions are confidential.   There are some rare exceptional cases.  Counsellors have a legal responsibility to disclose information without your consent if that is necessary to protect you or others from serious harm. These include cases where a client has communicated a serious threat of physical violence toward him/herself or someone else, or when a counsellor has reasonable cause to believe that the client is so unable to care for him or herself that the situation is life threatening. Additionally, counsellors are obligated to report any cases of child abuse or elder abuse.

    4. “I wouldn’t even know what to talk about.”

    You don’t need to know what to talk about before you come. In counselling, people examine whether there are ways they think, feel and/or behave that they can improve. Your counselor will help you identify these areas and how discussing them could be helpful.

    5. “I can always talk to a friend. I don’t understand how talking to a stranger can be helpful.”

    Friends can provide wonderful support and empathy, and that’s often enough to help us through difficult times. But a counselling relationship is different in a very important way. In a friendship the needs of both people must be attended to. Friendships involve a mutual exchange of listening and sharing. In counselling, the focus is solely on you and during this dialogue about you, your counselor is trained to use therapeutic techniques to help you.

    6. “I don’t believe just talking can do any good.”

    Talking can actually do a lot of good. Discussing something with someone who cares about you and who is not judgmental helps relieve the emotional pressure caused by keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. But counseling involves much more than just talking. Counselling provides a way for us to understand who we are and how we relate to the world around us. In counselling we focus our attention on aspects of our experience that we may have been previously unaware of. This provides new ways of looking at our problems and this often gives us new ways to handle these problems.

    7. “I’m betraying my family.”

    Counsellors are sensitive and respectful of concerns about family traditions and privacy. If conflicts about loyalty to family and culture are of concern, these issues can be discussed in the first session before more personal matters are addressed.

    8. “If I talk about my problems, I’ll just make them worse, or completely fall apart.”

    On the contrary, examining previously suppressed concerns and worries helps dissipate the pain and intensity and helps us understand our problems better. Counselling provides a forum for exploring choices, which produces better decision making.

  • Anxiety

    In many cases, anxiety is a normal reaction it’s a feeling of fear when we face when in a stressful situation, such as speaking in public, or going on an interview. This kind of anxiety is not only normal, but healthy. However, weeks and months of continuous worry or fear becomes debilitating.

    According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in Canada. There are six main anxiety disorders in adults and seven in children/young adults. They affect 12 per cent of the population. Often, they occur together or with other conditions such as depression or substance abuse. If left untreated, prolonged anxiety disorders can severely impact relationships, income, and sense of self.

    Treatment of Anxiety

    Research shows that anxiety disorders are highly treatable.

    Anxiety is created in one’s mind and results in most cases to affect the physical body. This comes from having faulty beliefs that do not support how you want to live or looping repeating grid locked thinking patterns.

    As your counsellor I will guide you to first recognize these thinking patterns that are not effective or out of date, and as well as help you discover better thinking tools to deal with life’s stressors.

    This type of mind emotion type of counselling involves a deep desire for change and willingness in order to take what you learn in the 90 minute sessions into day to day challenges. The change you want requires consistency and dogged persistence.

    This approach has worked for many clients I have counselled and it will do so for you as well.

    Depression

    Just as everyone feels anxious at one time or another, we all feel sad at times, or inexplicably tearful or just plain “down.”

    These uncomfortable feelings are part of life. But when these feelings persist for weeks and weeks, affecting the way we eat and sleep, how we feel about ourselves and how we think about family, friends, and work, then this is not just a part of life, psychologically it is assessed as clinical depression.

    Depression can affect anyone. There are many different factors at work, including family history, biology, life experiences, and physical health problems.

    How do you know if you are depressed? Symptoms include:
    • loss of energy
    • loss of interest in activities and in life
    • feelings of sadness and hopelessness
    • loss of appetite
    • difficulty in concentrating
    • irritability and indecisiveness
    • suicidal thoughts
    • anxiety, including physical symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, hot or cold flushes, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat and increased perspiration.

    Treatment of Depression

    In my counselling sessions, I treat depression by identifying thinking patterns that cause and maintain depression.
    I use this approach because it focuses on present, “here and now” thoughts and behaviours.
    Together, you and I will identify your symptoms and their severity and select goals you wish to attain (such as increasing self-esteem or improving communication).
    I will help you to look at how your actions or lack of actions contribute to your feelings, and help you identify negative or unrealistic ways of thinking that may be making you feel depressed.

    With 20 or fewer sessions of individual therapy, approximately 75 per cent of patients experience a significant decrease in their symptoms. As well, patients are given the tools to prevent depressive symptoms from coming back.