The general impression is that people go to counseling because they have serious issues like anxiety and depression. If you suffer symptoms from these mental illnesses and they are causing you to function poorly in daily life, seeking a counselor will help.
However, you shouldn’t feel that you have to be on the verge of mental illness before you seek help. Even if you are stressed about work, talking to a professional will help you tackle your stress more effectively.
It also helps to seek therapy even if you don’t understand the severity of what you’re going through. A counselor can help you determine signs of mental health issues and teach you how to deal with them before they get worse.
What to Look for in a Counselor
Successful therapy starts with finding the right counselor. There are numerous counseling services available, from private practices in Bellfield to public hospitals in Broadmeadows. The Australian Counselling Association’s website also makes it easy for you to search for a list of registered counselors based on their speciality and their proximity in your area.
It helps to research your potential counselor before you start your session. Look up their educational background, license to practice in your area, length of practice and certifications. Some counseling services also offer a phone conversation with your potential counselor to see if he or she matches your needs. Doing these can help with your peace of mind and in letting you know that you are in safe hands.
What to Expect in Your First Therapy Session
First sessions are more for you and your counselor to get to know each other. Your counselor will ask about your personal, educational and professional background. In return, you are free to ask details about him or her to ease your nervousness.
Once you’ve gotten to know each other, the counselor will ask why you decided to start counseling and what your goals are for the future sessions. Be open and expressive about your problems, but share only up to what you’re comfortable with. It’s normal to want to build some trust with your counselor before baring everything that you feel.
After your first visit, your counselor will review what was discussed and propose a plan for how your future sessions will move forward. This might involve a diagnosis, but this usually includes techniques you will try on your own, as well as how many sessions you might need.
Making the Most Out of Your Sessions
Your first therapy session will not instantly solve your problems. It might take you five or 20 sessions before you feel that you can more effectively deal with your problems. You might also feel that you’re not clicking with your counselor. In this case, you can discuss your concerns with him or her and whether you should switch counselors.
Making the most out of your therapy sessions requires you to be open. When a counselor asks you how you are, talk about what happened during the day, how you felt about something and other things that you might not have brought up during your previous sessions. It also helps if you ask questions, such as coping strategies you can use or the root causes of some of your feelings. There are no right or wrong answers, but you will gradually find solutions that would resonate with you.
Also, be prepared for some homework outside your sessions. Your counselor might require you to read about, say, anxiety management or to write regularly in a journal. Such extra activities may take up a bit more of your time, but know that these are steps to help you live better.