Why do people need a therapist/counselor?
People seek counseling for many reasons. Some need to respond to unexpected changes in their lives, while others seek self-exploration and personal growth. Many are tired of feeling "stuck" in the same old patterns. People seek therapy because they are ready to work towards self-change and create a greater purpose for their lives; and, with the help of an experienced psychotherapist, they are able to be more efficient, and often more successful, in their endeavors.
What can I expect in a counseling session?
During sessions you and your counselor will work together exploring areas of possible improvement and then work to define goals and the steps to be taken to achieve them. A session typically lasts fifty minutes to one hour, with couple's sessions lasting a bit longer typically. Usually weekly, or biweekly, sessions are best. At times, you may be asked to take certain actions outside of the sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records. For therapy to "work," you must be an active participant, both in and outside of the sessions. Most people work with a therapist for approximately three months on a particular issue, but this can vary widely depending on the client and the number of goals established.
What benefits can I expect from working with a professional counselor?
A number of benefits are available. Sometimes people find a fresh perspective on a difficult problem, or find clarity and direction towards a solution. Many people find counseling to be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, and the hassles of daily life. The benefits you obtain from it depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available include:
Attaining a better understanding of yourself and your personal goals and values
Developing skills for improving your relationships
Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that may have been stumbling blocks to success
Managing anger, depression, anxiety and other emotional pressures
Improving communications skills - learn how to listen to others, and have others listen to you
Getting "unstuck" from unhealthy patterns - breaking old behaviors and developing new ones
Discovering new ways to solve problems
Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
What if I don't know what my goals are for achieving success?
If you aren't sure what your goals are, your first task is to figure that out. It may take several sessions before a direction is clarified. Over the course of a few sessions, clarification will emerge. Sometimes your goals may change. However, each goal will usually have several steps that have to be taken to accomplish each goal, and these will be explored during sessions as well.
Is psychotherapy confidential?
Everything you discuss with your therapist remains confidential, with only a few exceptions. These involve situations in which you provide information that is required by law for your therapist to report such as knowledge of abuse of children or the elderly. Another exception might be on rare occasions when a client may divulge that he/she is planning to harm himself or someone else. The final exception is when a court order is isssued for records to be provided. In all other cases where another party may be asking for client information, you must give signed permission before your counselor can share with anyone any aspect of your counseling.