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How to Get the Most Out of Counselling

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There are many people in Calgary and around Canada seeking out the services of behavioural therapists and other counsellors. Whether they are first-time clients getting an introduction to the world of therapy, or long-time attendees with years of experience, the idea of seeing a psychologist or other professional has never been more popular.

However, this also means that there might be some misconceptions about what counselling is and how it works. If you’re brand new to it, you might not know what to expect at all – you might think it’s going to be just a quiet room with a big couch and a silent old psychiatrist. Luckily, the truth is a lot more friendly. Here’s a quick guide on how get the most out of counselling sessions and some general counselling tips.

Common counselling questions.

If you have some questions about your upcoming session, that’s okay. Taking first (or further) steps into something unfamiliar is going to create some curiosity, and you shouldn’t get too stressed about it. Here are some common questions many patients have as they get ready for their first counselling experience (and more answers can be found in our FAQ section).

What are the goals of counselling?

This depends on the person and the situation. Sometimes it’s to help a relationship get back on track; sometimes it’s to get over a persistent fear or anxiety; and sometimes it is simply to get in touch with our inner selves and grow more fully into who we are. No two goals are truly the same – so you can mold each session to your needs.

What’s an example THERAPY session like?

This depends on the person and the situation. Sometimes it’s to help a relationship get back on track; sometimes it’s to get over a persistent fear or anxiety; and sometimes it is simply to get in touch with our inner selves and grow more fully into who we are. No two goals are truly the same – so you can mold each session to your needs.

is one session with a counsellor enough?

Sometimes people come in expecting overnight changes and immediate results, without wanting to put in the additional effort. Behavioural therapists and counsellors are only able to show you a way forward, but they cannot force you to move that direction. You must choose to do so on your own. This takes time to implement in 

What counselling is not.

Contrary to what you might think, counselling sessions are not a place for you to be judged or put under a microscope. It’s not about assigning blame or pointing out failures. It’s simply a space to be open and honest, and get real feedback and guidance as you try to grow. It’s not always easy, but it’s usually necessary.

The goals of counselling that we mentioned above are always what sets the tone for each session. Any professional with counselling skills will maintain those goals in their sights, so they can keep you on track towards where you want to be. Our hope is always that you consistently grow in the direction you want to go.

Counselling advice.

So with all of that in mind, let’s get to how to get the most out of your counselling sessions. It’s true that everyone is different, but these are some general tips that can broadly apply – no matter the approach, the client, or the situation.

1. Be specific.

Keep your sessions focused on your counselling goals by being specific during your sessions. If it helps, bring notes or other material to refer to and ensure you get to the things you wanted to discuss.

2. Include your supports.

As you go through your therapy process, you will learn new skills and have new insights that you will want to share with those close to you. By doing this, you can get valuable practice with these skills and make meaningful connections to the lessons you are learning. 

3. Given feedback to your therapist.

Therapy is an interactive process. If you feel your therapist’s approach isn’t working or fitting properly, or you have questions about therapy styles, don’t hesitate to give feedback. It’s important to feel heard, validated, and understood with your therapeutic approach. You can even describe an ideal counselling session example, if it helps to frame it that way.

4. Keep an open mind.

Counselling usually doesn’t look like it does in movies or TV shows. Nowadays, there are plenty of approaches, tailored to different types of people, and they each have a scientific theory and basis behind them. If you are skeptical or resistant of the process, you’ll see slower progress and compound the problem. Remember to keep an open mind and see what happens!

5. Be honest.

Counsellors are there to support you, not judge you. If you’re not being truthful, this is difficult to do. So, one of the best ways to maximize your time with a counsellor is simply being honest. Tell them what’s on your mind, when a strategy isn’t working, or when you’ve slipped up. Share your successes, too! Your counsellor has heard it all before, and this helps establish an even stronger relationship.

6. Be respectful of time.

A counsellor’s schedule is often back-to-back, making it hard to make up for lost time if the appointment starts late. By being on time or even a few minutes early for your visits, you will get full advantage with the time you’ve booked (and show the counsellor that you respect their time, too).

7. Be a willing participant.

Counselling requires work and follow-up to see progress. You can expect to develop action plans that you’ll implement in your daily life. If you want to truly see permanent change, you must be willing to follow through with these plans in your daily life. 

All in all, counselling has many proven benefits and can be a great approach to helping you improve your mental health, talk through difficulties, or develop strategies for a healthy life. With modern life becoming a bit unpredictable, it’s as good a time as any to look for a counsellor or therapist here in Calgary – and when you’re ready to talk, Your Counselling is ready to listen.