HOW TO BEGIN THE COUNSELING PROCESS
By Betty Hughes, Ph.D., LMHC
The decision to enter the counseling or psychotherapy process is not made lightly. It is time-consuming and expensive and emotionally intensive. You will want to make the best of the experience. What can you do?
First, ask a lot of questions. During the initial interview, you will share a lot of information about who you are and about your history. This process may evoke a lot of questions and exploration of answers.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Who am I? Who do I want to be?
- What do I want to accomplish in the counseling process?
- How do I view my world and my role within my world?
- How motivated am I to achieve my goals?
- Are there any secondary gains that interfere with making changes?
- Do any other questions seem important to ask of yourself?
Questions to ask your counselor:
- What is your professional background?
- What is your theoretical orientation?
- What special techniques do you use in the counseling process?
- How long do you expect this process to take?
- What are your recommendations?
- Are there any other questions you want to ask?
Second, recognize the interactive nature of counseling. Most of the actual “work” of therapy must be done internally by the client. The therapist can offer guidance and recommendations, but it will be up to you to decide what works best for you.
Finally, communicate openly and honestly. Discuss preferences and boundaries. Take responsibility for clarifying your expectations for this potentially life-altering endeavor.