When clients contact me, one of first questions they ask is how therapy works and what to expect during a counselling session.
Firstly, I explain that building up trust and rapport with me is the first step and is important to the therapeutic relationship. To help build this relationship, my style is to take it nice a slowly in the first few sessions, letting you lead the way as you open up and talk about yourself. For some people that isn't easy to do and I'll encourage and gently guide and support you.
Sometimes the reason you sought therapy may not be the route cause of the issue or may not even be clear to you. I think it's a bit like unpeeling an onion, where you take off the first layer which is the initial problem, and there may be another layer underneath, and another layer underneath that. Some clients may say things like "I don't know why I brought that up," or "where did that come from, I had no idea that was bothering me."
Or you may like to think of it as your emotional suitcase filled with your thoughts and feelings. However, this ‘emotional luggage’ may be badly packed and may frequently burst open from time to time or when it is ‘knocked against’ something.
This is often experienced as distressing thoughts and feelings. What we need to do is unpack and repack the bag to help you make sense of it. This can be very upsetting to do, and you might not want to do it, but eventually it allows you to re-arrange things so that you can carry the bag without it bursting open unexpectedly.
As a person centred therapist, I'll be guided by you about how many layers (or what's in your bag) you want to explore.
As we don't know what we'll discover, it's difficult to predict how long therapy will take or what tools and therapeutic techniques may be right for you. For some people, a few sessions are all they need to get something off their chest and feel better, and for others, medium or long term therapy may be required to help them process what brought them to therapy and then work towards what they need to achieve.
This is where different therapies play their part, as we may explore your past and present, relationships, childhood, values, beliefs and experiences. One style of therapy doesn't all people, so we'll work together to find what's right for you.
Therapy can be life changing and empowering and bring about an understanding of yourself and others which can really enhance your life. Giving yourself the time to explore this fully can be really beneficial in you achieving what you need and want, so that everything feels right with you once again and you are in a place to move forward.
It can be a painful and challenging experience to talk about the reason you came to therapy, but you can be assured that empathy and compassion, dignity and respect is at the heart of what I do and how I work.