When most people hear the word ‘counselling’, they often associate it with mental illness or emotional distress; there is a long-held stigma that the need or desire for counselling is a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of inner strength and desire to grow. At Paul Jozsef counselling & Coaching, we want to help remove this stigma and make counselling accessible to anyone who feels that they may need some extra help.
According to the American Counselling Association, counselling is defined as: “a professional relationship that empowers individuals, to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals”. There is nothing in this definition that projects weakness. We all need help and guidance at some point in our lives. That is what counselling is for, to help you navigate the rough waters of life.
What is Counselling?
Counselling might seem intimidating. It is completely normal to feel this way about delving into your inner world. Counsellors work with their clients to create strategies to overcome obstacles and personal challenges they may be experiencing. It is important to note that counsellors do not tell you what to do. You have to do the work. counsellors are only there to provide you with the tools and insight you need to make informed decisions to overcome the issues you are dealing with. Think of this as a collaborative effort between yourself and your counsellor.
One of the most important and comforting pillars of counselling is confidentiality. This means that anything discussed during your sessions remains completely between yourself and your counsellor(with a few extreme exceptions when it comes to safety concerns). counselling allows you a safe, open space to begin learning about yourself and gain resources to overcome obstacles along the way to your goals.
There is generally no set structure for how your counselling will work. Some people seek counselling for a short amount of time to help cope with or navigate very specific concerns while others continue this process over longer terms for more in-depth issues.
Do I Need Counselling?
This is a tough question to address with a simple yes or no. counselling is universally beneficial. Even if you are not going through something particularly heavy in your personal life, counselling can still be beneficial to your mental health. Whether you realize it or not, we are all living in a very fast paced, busy, and stressful time. Balancing work, family, friends, and any other aspects of life can become taxing. Seeking professional counselling is a good way to unburden your mind from your regular stressors and focus on your personal mental health and growth.
There are few signs that it might be a good idea to seek the help of a counsellor.
If you are feeling stuck or feel like you keep repeating the same patterns over and over again without feeling happy or fulfilled, it may be worthwhile speaking with a counsellor. These feelings may be in relation to your work, your personal relationships, or with yourself. counselling can shed light on why these feelings came up, what they mean, and how to deal with them should they arise again in the future.
If you are feeling unable to control your emotions, this may also be indicative that it’s time to talk to someone. It’s completely normal to feel emotional at times. However, it might be helpful to speak to someone if you feel like you have no idea why you’re crying, how to stop crying, or if your sadness overwhelms you. counselling can help provide you with insight as to why you may be feeling this way and the right tools to help deal with your emotions.
Similarly, it’s perfectly normal or you to be unhappy with certain aspects of your life. However, when you notice that this feeling is lingering and your inner dialogue is largely negative, this may also be a sign that you should speak with a counsellor. If you’re noticing that you’re more on edge than usual, that ‘things’ are triggering negative emotions such as anger, stress, anxiety, fear, or depression, this may be indicative that there is an underlying issue causing your emotional distress. Understanding what creates these feelings will leave you better prepared to face those triggers when they arise again.
While we’ve addressed a few common indicators that you may want to consider counselling, there are many others. If you are considering counselling at all, whether it is general ‘life-stuff’ or to address a specific issue, setting up an appointment is the first step to feeling better again.
How Counselling Works
For someone not familiar with counselling or therapy, it can be extremely helpful to understand how the process works. It will also help you feel more comfortable upon your first visit. It’s important to note here, all counsellors have their own personal style and processes, so what you read here may vary from your personal experience.
If this is your first visit to your counsellor, understand that this visit will be very different than the rest. During your first session, the counsellor will generally ask you quite a few questions to gain insight to create a strategy to help you reach your goals. During this visit, you may discuss why you sought counselling, your personal and family history, your current situation, and any symptoms you may have experienced that led you to seek counselling in the first place. If there is something you are not ready to share, that’s completely okay, you can get to it if or when you’re ready. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable during this visit. Your counsellor is still a stranger to you and they understand they have not earned your trust or built a relationship yet.
While counselling is a collaborative effort, remember what we talked about before – counsellors are not there to tell you what to do or give you answers but will help guide you so you can make the most informed choices for yourself. counsellors are trained to ask the right questions to help you get the answers you need. It might be helpful if you prepared for your sessions beforehand. That is, thinking about what’s going on and how you may describe it to the counsellor. This will help you understand and articulate how you’re feeling as well as help make effective use of your session. Always feel free to ask questions about the process. The more you understand, the better the relationship and progress will be.
What Happens During Counselling?
You may have visions of laying on a couch while someone asks you, “And how does that make you feel?” This is not how modern counselling works. While many therapists do have comfortable couches and seating in their offices, it is very unlikely they’ll have you lay down and face away from them while they ask you endless questions about your childhood. Counsellors are well-trained individuals who won’t always try to find a way to connect your current situation to deep-rooted childhood trauma. Your counsellor will ask about your history and you may end up sharing about your childhood, but it will only be if deemed relevant.
Very rarely is there a eureka moment that will completely turn your life around; counselling is a gradual process. It is a series of small breakthroughs that eventually start to impact your life as you grow. Often, you might not even realize that your counselling is being positively impactful due to the nature of the process.
Counselling is not something that fixes a person, nor does it ‘cure’ people. Rather, you learn how to recognise and navigate life’s ups and downs. counsellors are looking to build a trusting and therapeutic relationship with their clients. They do more than just listen. There is an interactive discussion. Some counsellors may be more reserved and focus on listening at first, but as the relationship grows, they will share their thoughts and feelings with you as well.
It should be mentioned, counselling is not easy; it is work. Once a relationship is established, it should become easier to open up and get a discussion going, but the process is likely still going to be challenging. counselling is going to make you question yourself, the way you think, and the way you act. You are going to have to be open to making changes and altering behaviors that are probably well ingrained into your psyche. counselling is the opportunity to work on yourself, to become a better, healthier version of who you are. Self-work is never easy, especially when it means confronting negative aspects of our being or thoughts. It may seem like a long road, but your counsellor will help you along the path.
What Happens Next?
Now that you have a better understanding of what counselling looks like, you may be ready for the next step!
If you’re not sure that you’re ready to dive in, you can always schedule a short consultation where we can discuss any concerns or fears you may have about beginning counselling. We can come up with a plan and take things from there.
If you’re interested in having a session, all you have to do is call or email to schedule your first appointment. After your first session, we will be better able to tell you more about a strategy for helping you achieve your goals.
If you have any additional questions before making an appointment, please feel free to ask. We want to make sure you’re completely prepared. We look forward to beginning this journey with you.