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any tips for counselling?

(11 Posts)
CakeWillDo Tue 04-Mar-14 16:03:44

We have our first session soon and I have no idea what to expect. Where to start or anything really. Any advice?

struggling100 Tue 04-Mar-14 16:23:32

First of all, it's normal to be really scared before your first session, but equally there's no reason to be! You will probably be surprised at how much kinder to you the counsellor is than you are to yourself.

Your counsellor will start you off and your first sessions will be simply about identifying issues and discussing some of the basics. Don't expect any huge revelations or for it to work miracles overnight. It takes time. It's a process, not a goal. On the other hand, many people start to feel a bit better after just a small number of sessions (two or three).

In terms of the longer process, the most important piece of advice I have for anyone going for the first time is: tell the truth as much as you can right from the start. The more honest you can be, the less you allow yourself to fall into the old ready-made narratives that we all use, the more transformative it will be. We all tell stories to ourselves to excuse ourselves, to mitigate behaviours, to blame ourselves, to act out inner feelings of worthlessness. The ability to recognise and avoid this is one of the most liberating things that counselling can bring.

The second most important piece of advice I have is: listen really, really carefully to what your partner says, what they imply, and also what they don't say. (The counsellor should help you both to do this).

It's vital that you like and trust your counsellor, so if they are not the right person for you, change. However, there should also be room in the relationship for him or her to tell you things you don't want to hear. (This tends to happen much, much later in the process than the first few sessions!) Being open to that is difficult, and takes big courage.

Don't be scared by how deep some of your feelings are, and conversely by how some things you thought really mattered in fact don't. The thing about counselling is that it's a safe place to experience those surprises.

Do expect things to bubble up from the past - things that you didn't even realise you've forgotten.

Don't think that the counselling process ends with the session: tiny, sometimes imperceptible things will trigger awarenesses and learnings outside too. I once had a revelation over a pack of Maryland cookies in Tescos smile

Do expect to find it releasing, challenging, tiring, uplifting, and liberating (but not all at once).

CakeWillDo Tue 04-Mar-14 16:29:33

Thank you, that has helped massively. I may re-read this a few times.

FolkGirl Tue 04-Mar-14 18:38:41

That's some really great advice.

When I started my recent counselling relationship, I had no idea where to start. I really wanted to just open up my head and let out the bit knotty, messy jumble.

I didn't know whether to start at now and work backwards, or start at the beginning and work forwards, or start with one incident, or one theme or one feeling... Argh!!!

So I just took a deep breath and a sip of water and started talking. Where I started wasn't really important, but once I started I couldn't stop!

I started to see connections where I'd never seen them before, I remembered things I'd completely forgotten that I didn't even realise I'd remembered until I heard the words coming out of my mouth, I often don't know what I'm going to see until I hear the words coming out of my mouth...

I have little mini epiphanies throughout the week, I have little realisations and often more questions.

Good luck.

CakeWillDo Tue 04-Mar-14 22:27:51

Thanks folkgirl. Im thinking alomg those lines, where to start etc.

FolkGirl Wed 05-Mar-14 11:07:45

I hope it goes well. I've lost track of the number of times I've started counselling over the years. I think I'm only now in a place where I've got enough head space to pursue it.

It can be very draining, but stick with it. It appears to be worth it so far...

Xenadog Wed 05-Mar-14 20:44:28

OP you have had really good advice from other posters. All I would add is don't be too hard on yourself or expect too much too soon. Counselling is a process so there's no "end/finished product" as it were but the small epiphanies do occur at the oddest of times. I had one when I was in Tesco's. I almost burst into tears as I couldn't find lambs lettuce washed in spring water and later on I realised it was me "bottoming out" for the last time.

Go with an open mind and see what happens.

RobotLover68 Wed 05-Mar-14 21:35:40

in addition to above - don't be surprised if you get very down before you start coming back out the other side again

louby44 Wed 05-Mar-14 21:57:50

I've just been for my first counselling session tonight (I went 8 years ago when I split/divorced and found it very beneficial). I split with my partner last Dec after nearly 6 years together and I just need some help getting my head around all my emotions.

I spent the first 15 minutes crying on & off, tissues were there so don't be ashamed to sob.

My counsellor seemed good and asked all the right initial questions about sleep, alcohol consumption, drugs etc.

He said something interesting at the start, which I totally agree with, in that often the people who would truly benefit from counselling are the people who never do it! Who don't see that they have any problems/issues and often don't see the point of it.

MNNicknameLawyer Thu 06-Mar-14 08:49:47

I went to couples counselling with my ex DH - Relate were good. But as we had to wait quite a while for a Relate appointment we tried a private counsellor first. On our first (and only) session we sat in her living room in silence as she never said a word!! I think this is weird and wrong (and a waste of money). I was wondering if that happened to anyone else.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 06-Mar-14 09:12:51

I would add another point to all the excellent advice above: don't expect your counsellor to give you answers on what to do, or to adjudicate who is "right" and who is "wrong" about the issues you bring up.

The counsellor is not a judge or teacher. S/he is there to prompt your own thought process, and to prompt you to find your own answers. In an environment that is safe and respectful of everyone's feelings.

It might also be helpful for your first session if you are ready to outline in a few sentences what you think are the key problems in your relationship.

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