That’s largely up to you.
One of the questions we frequently hear from new clients is “just how long is this process going to take?” We know that a trip to the dentist’s office is probably going to take an hour, our bimonthly visit to the styling salon may take two, and that our teen will wear those braces for 24 months. Shouldn’t counseling be just as predictable?
That would be nice, but it’s not realistic. A single session usually takes around an hour, but it’s tougher to define how many of those sessions you may need before you start to feel change you desire.
While you may not be able to predict how long you’ll need to see a counselor, did you realize that you have more control over the process than you realize? It’s true. Your actions and your choices are two of the biggest factors in how well counseling will work for you and how long the process will take.
So how do you make the most of your investment?
It starts by coming to your sessions prepared to talk. People discuss difficult issues during counseling, and it’s not unusual for many of them to be hesitant to bring them up. Small talk with a counselor is nice, but the more time you spend discussing the weather, the less time you’ll have to address the reason you’re in our office. We’ve been trained to handle hard subject, process difficult relationships and feelings, and help provide tools that bring about true healing and change.
There’s no need to be guarded. Remember we are here to help you and we already know that something is not right. If you’re completely open and talk honestly, it’s much easier for us to help you. It’s also okay for you to ask questions. Is something bothering you and you’re not sure why? Asking your counselor about it may help you figure it out.
Also, there is no reason to be ashamed to share what you’re feeling. Some people worry that what they’re feeling is “wrong.” The antidote to shame is storytelling, because if you cannot say it, then most likely, it owns you. Remember this: What you hide controls you. When you come to your session share your story and your emotions.
This is also why it’s important to focus on yourself. Yes, you may be in counseling because something is wrong in your relationships with other people, but you’re the one in the appointment. If you spend the entire session complaining about the other people, you may not learn why those people bother you so much and what to do to make sure there is change.
One more way to lesson the number of sessions needed: Do your homework. If the counselor gives you “homework” to do between sessions, do it, and be prepared to discuss it. If you don’t understand the reason for the homework feel free to ask. In many cases, the counselor has some ideas about strategies that might work for you, and that homework is a way to test them out or to practice new skills you’ve learned in your session. Or, it may be a way to bring additional information that will help the counselor pinpoint the cause to a problem. That homework sets the stage for the next session to be productive, and if you don’t do it, you’re only hurting yourself by making less efficient use of your time.
If you have more questions about the counseling process, contact us today.
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