How to get the most out of counselling and psychological therapy?
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Counselling and psychological therapy is a process. As such, the more you put in, the more you are likely to get out.
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of counselling:
1. Do some research...
- Develop a good understanding of what counselling is and what it can and cannot do.
- There are many different schools of thought, psychology theories, and counselling modalities. Find out a bit about them and see which one resonates and speaks to you the most.
- There are lots of places where you can find good information. Start by looking at some of the websites listed below:
2. Check out some counsellors and psychologists to find one that is the best fit for you...
- Not all counsellors and psychologists work in the same way. Before committing to work with a counsellor or psychologist check them out to see if you can work with them and if the fit is right for you.
- Ask some questions about their training and experience, their philosophy, their knowledge of psychology and recent research as well as their ways of working with people so that you can determine if their way of working will suit you.
3. Do some preparation before your first session...
It is good to give some thought to what you want to take away from your sessions and what outcomes you are hoping to achieve. Your chosen counsellor / therapist or psychologist may assist you in this. Preparation may include:
- Writing down what you want to cover in your session
- Issues you want to address
- Symptoms you have experienced including their frequency and intensity, when they have started
- What you have noticed about your situation
- Any particular goals you want to achieve from your counselling and therapy work.
4. Review your goals regularly with your counsellor / psychologist...
- As you work through things in your therapy and counselling, you may find that you discover new things about yourself and your experience, and your relationships with others. Your goals and desired outcomes may change over time as a result of this.
- It is important to review where you are at regularly. When we have achieved a desired goal, we feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. It may also motivate us to tackle other issues which we never thought possible and give us new confidence. Reviewing your goals will allow you to stay on track and get the most out of your counselling work.
5. Keep an open mind!
- Counselling and psychological therapy can be very confronting and challenging at times.
- You may find yourself exploring issues and seeing yourself, others and certain situations in a new light. This will allow you to address them differently.
- By keeping an open mind, you open up new possibilities for looking at and dealing with a challenging situation or issue differently and more effectively.
6. Do your homework exercises & take every opportunity to practice what you are learning...
- Your counsellor / psychologist will guide you and provide different strategies and tools for you. It is up to you to make the most of these. Try them out and see how they work. You may need to do this more than once as taking on new things and learning new skills takes time and practice.
- If something doesn't work for you, don't get discouraged. Different strategies and tools work for different people and situations. Sometimes we need to practice a new skill before we master it.
- By committing to complete homework and practice exercises you will get the most out of your counselling work and be in a better position to make adjustments where necessary.
7. Provide feedback to your counsellor / psychologist - both positive and negative...
- Feedback allows us to review, adjust, and improve what we do. Counselling is no different. By providing feedback to your counsellor, you can fine tune the work you do together and get the best out of this work.
- If something is not working, raise it with your counsellor so that adjustments and changes can be made.
- If something is working really well, it may be a great opportunity to build on a particular strength in a positive way.
- Feedback is an important part of counselling.
8. Ask lots of questions!
- If we want to improve the quality of our answers, we have to improve the quality of our questions!
- Asking questions allows you to develop greater understanding and insight.
- Your counsellor / therapist / psychologist will guide you and assist you to ask good quality questions about what is going on for you and your problem issue, and the psychology underlying these issues.
- Asking questions about counselling theory, the process of therapy, particular areas of psychology, or a particular counselling intervention allows you to put strategies and practice exercises into context, as well as understand the psychology underlying these issues and strategies, allowing you to get the most out of your counselling and therapy work.
9. Be creative about how you hang on to what you have learned and gained from counselling and psychology for the future...
- Consolidating and maintaining what you have gained and accomplished in your counselling and therapy work is an important part of the therapeutic process.
- Teaching and sharing with someone what you have learnt helps you consolidate what you have gained in therapy.
- Your counsellor / psychologist will provide you with guidance about how you can maintain these gains over time and how you can continue to receive benefit from your counselling work and accomplishments into the future.