Counselling offers a non-judgemental and safe space for you to talk about the difficulties you are experiencing and to explore your potential for personal change and growth.
Your counsellor is professionally trained to listen to you sensitively and with an open mind. They will work together with you in a way that respects your autonomy while helping you to make decisions and find solutions that are congruent with your own values. A counsellor is not there to offer “advice” or a “quick fix” but to help you grow in awareness of your own inner resources and strengths allowing you to cope more effectively with difficult feelings, people and situations.
All of our counsellors are qualified or in the final portion of their training. They work within strict professional and ethical guidelines.
Your initial assessment
Your initial assessment takes place before you start counselling and typically lasts 45 minutes. The assessment is a chance for you to get a feel of what is involved in counselling and to raise any concerns you have about making a commitment to attending. It is also a place for us to go over some of the practicalities of counselling like our cancellation policy, confidentiality and the general rules of our counselling service.
In your initial assessment, the counsellor will ask certain questions about you and your life. This information helps them make an initial assessment of your situation and the suitability of counselling for your difficulties. It also allows you to be matched with the right counsellor when we are able to offer you a regular weekly appointment.
Questions might include:
Why you sought counselling? This may be a particular issue or a number of concerns. The therapist has to understand your surface problem(s) you can get to the deeper issues.
Your personal history and current situation. The therapist will ask you a series of questions about your life. For example, because family situations play an important role in who you are, they may ask about your family history and your current family situation.
Your current symptoms. Other than knowing the reason you sought therapy, the therapist will attempt to find out if you are suffering from other symptoms. For example, your problem might be causing difficulty at work. The therapist will use this information to better understand your problem.
Getting the most from counselling
Counselling is a team effort and works best when you and your therapist work together.
Try to be open. Therapists are trained to ask the right questions, but they are not mind-readers. Your therapist will check out their understanding with you and if they get something wrong let them know. Building a shared understanding takes time, honesty and openness from both you and your therapist.
Be prepared. Before you get to the session, it can be useful to think about how to describe “what’s wrong,” and how to describe your feelings. 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 therapist. Sometimes this can be difficult to do in which case your therapist will help you find the right words in the session.
Ask questions. The more you understand how counselling works, the more comfortable you will be. Ask questions about the therapy process, and ask the therapist to repeat anything you do not 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 therapist. You will both learn from these insights.
You can also download this information as a PDF.