Preliminary Phone Consultation
I offer a free 15-minute telephone consultation. During this call, I will ask you about the problems that are leading you to seek counselling. I will also ask if you have questions about my way of working so that you can get a sense if I will be a good match for you as a counsellor.
What to Expect from Therapy
The process of therapy is unique with each client. We will work at your pace and I will check in with you regularly to make sure that we are on track toward meeting your goals.
However, therapy usually moves through two basic stages: an “early stage” and a “working stage”.
The Early Stage
The early stage of therapy usually takes one or two sessions. I will be curious about how long your problems have been occurring, how severe they are, and what solutions you have already tried. Most importantly, we will work to clarify, in detail, what you want to have different in your life.
For many clients, gaining a clearer sense of where they are and of where they want to go brings an increased sense of peace and a reduction of immediate distress.
The “Working Stage”
In my work with clients, the working stage of counselling typically involves some blend of the two different counselling styles that I use. Both of these therapeutic styles have long histories and both of them have a lot of research supporting their effectiveness.
How these two styles are blended will depend on your individual needs and preferences.
Style One: Developing Concrete Skills
This first style of counselling would involve me teaching you concrete skills in a collaborative, supportive manner. This style is most consistent with the Cognitive Behavioral school of therapy.
For example, I might suggest teaching you:
- Goal setting skills to help you begin getting more of what you want in your life in a realistic, achievable way
- Mindfulness skills to help you stay in the present more effectively so you can avoid getting carried away as easily by anxious or depressive thinking
- Thinking skills that will allow you to notice and challenge distorted, unhelpful thoughts
- Relaxation skills to help you become calmer
Mastery of these skills is achievable for almost all clients, all though it does require some practice between sessions to get the hang of them.
As you begin to master these skills you should start to experience a further lessening of distress, an improved ability to manage your symptoms, and increased hope.
Style Two: Accessing and Working with Emotions
The second counselling style that I use is an emotionally focused, experiential approach. This style is most consistent with the Client Centered and Emotion Focused schools of therapy.
My role in this style of counselling is to listen as you talk about whatever issues feel most pressing or “alive” for you. As you talk, I will try to listen in such as way that you feel that I am fully present with you moment by moment. Together we will mindfully explore whatever thoughts or emotions emerge for you. I may also suggest activities such as guided imagery or role-play to help you access, and begin to process, the emotions lying beneath your words.
The goal of this approach would be to help you to fully experience, understand, and express your emotions. This is very important because emotions are not just something to be “managed”; they are also an essential, life-giving source of energy and information.
This work should improve your abilities to:
· Know what emotions you are feeling in the moment
· Identify the needs behind your healthy emotions
· Express your healthy needs in effective ways
· Transform your unhealthy emotions (like shame), so that they stop having so much power
As this work progresses, you should begin to feel greater clarity, more confidence in yourself, and a stronger sense of vitality.
How long will counselling take?
The length of time it will take for you to successfully complete counselling really does depend on the nature of your problems and on your goals for counselling.
Many of my clients have reached their goals in 4 - 5 sessions. However, for more long standing problems, it typically takes my clients between 12 and 18 sessions to feel ready to finish. It is often at around this point that my clients feel that they have developed the skills they need to successfully manage their symptoms, and that they have also made the internal shifts necessary for them to continue growing successfully once counselling has finished.