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Starting Therapy - 6 Tips To Help Guide Your Counselling Journey

starting therapy, your counselling journey

With everything going on in the world, it can be understandable, that at a certain time in our life, we make a choice of starting therapy.
Prioritising your wellbeing, in particular your mental wellbeing, can be daunting, especially if you are used to internalising, or ignoring your thoughts and feelings.
Therefore, this article will offer you some support, in the form of 6 tips to help guide your counselling journey, when considering your needs and wants, to find the right therapist.

6 Tips To Help You Start Therapy...

1. Am I Ready For Counselling?

That is a good question for you to explore, to which I would also like you to consider...

  • Am I ready to explore my thoughts, feelings and behaviour?

  • Can I open up to a stranger?

  • What do I want to achieve from counselling? (think small and big goals)

  • Do I have any other priorities to also tend to, that may obstruct or disrupt my counselling journey (e.g. financial, housing or work issues)?

2. Public Or Private Counselling?

Free public support for our mental wellbeing is a great benefit and one we should be thankful for, however, it also comes with some limitations. Therefore, if you can afford it, private counselling, can offer you far more benefits, such as...

  • You get to choose your therapist, rather than one being allocated to you

  • Availability of seeing a therapist, can be quicker vs being on a waiting list

  • There is no time limit on how many counselling sessions you can have

  • You can schedule your counselling sessions, according to your timetable

3. Methods Of Counselling Delivery

Talking therapy, is a process that involves you talking with a trained professional about your concerns regarding your holistic wellbeing, your relationship/s and any other areas of your life, you wish to explore. To achieve this, it is important to consider the method you would prefer to receive your counselling sessions.

Depending on your therapist’s method of delivery, this can include...

  • In person - which can take place at the therapists office. There ae also a few therapists who will offer ‘home visits’, where the therapist comes to you and counselling takes place in your home.

  • Video-counselling - online video counselling, involves you having a software video link (sent by the therapist), so that you can both connect to each other for a counselling session, over the internet. A device to access the internet, good internet connection and a built in or wired webcam, is needed for this to take place.

  • Telephone counselling - the therapist will call you via telephone, to have a verbal counselling session

4. How To Find A Therapist To Start Therapy

There are many websites that offer a platform, where therapists list information about

themselves, for clients to peruse, such as their...

  • Type of therapy (therapeutic approaches) offered, according to the presenting concerns, this can include...

    • CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Counselling), commonly used to treat anxiety and depression

    • Couples Therapy, an approach to support partners

    • Humanistic Therapy, focuses on the whole person, rather than one specific area

  • Training & experiences (professional qualifications and accreditations gained)

  • Affiliations (what professional associations, do they belong to correlate their credentials)

  • Availability and timetable (working days and hours)

  • Location (area they work in)

  • Social media profiles and contact details (email, website, telephone)

  • Fees, insurance plans, sliding scales (their counselling charges and payment methods)

Websites that have a ‘find a therapist’ database, can include...

5. Do I Need To Feel A Connection With My Therapist, For My Counselling To Work?

It is extremely important to take your time to find the right therapist for you, so that you have a good connection with your therapist and your counselling journey can be effective. Many a time we will initially decide to consider a therapist, who has similarities to ourselves, e.g. similar community of; ethnicity, gender identity, spirituality but within that decision, it is also essential to speak to a couple of therapists, via a ‘complimentary introductory’ session (usually lasting 15-30 minutes), so to get a feel of who you may be able to develop a good counselling relationship with.

Some things to be mindful of is...

  • How easy is it to share your concerns, thoughts and feelings, with the therapist?

  • Are you able to be your ‘true self’, whilst communicating with your therapist, e.g. displaying your spiritual persona, using bad language (swearing), showing anger, or being tearful?

  • Does the therapist provide you with a space of safety, that is warm and confidential?

  • Does the therapist have a non-judgemental attitude, that does not take sides?

  • Do you get a sense that the therapist is there to help you?

6. What May Happen In My First Counselling Session

If there is a mutual counselling connection, between yourself and the therapist, your therapist may then contact you regarding the start date, time and method of counselling delivery, for your counselling journey to begin.

On the day of your first counselling session, it may consist of you…

  • Disclosing personal data about yourself/yourselves, e.g.

    • address, GP details, medical history

    • partner/family/friendship circle

    • concerns and presenting problems

  • Going through a counselling contract, which can include

    • lateness and cancellations

    • security - especially if counselling is online

    • mutual expectations (respect, violence, notifications)

    • confidentiality - Remember, that everything discussed between you and the therapist, is strictly confidential. However, there are a few exceptions, where the therapist can retain the right to break confidentiality, e.g.

      • harm to yourself or vulnerable other

      • trafficking or act of terrorism

      • court of law request

  • Sharing your concerns, goals, changes and developments, you wish to achieve with the support of your therapist. Your therapist will want to get to know you and your presenting problems. This can be achieved by exploring with, through their curiosity, your reasons for seeking counselling, your readiness and ‘why now’, for the counselling journey.

  • Receiving homework - depending on your therapist, you may receive ‘homework’, in the form of reflection activities, or exercises, you may be asked to consider completing.

So that’s my 6 tips to offer you, so to help you start therapy and I hope by sharing these points, it has given you some ‘food for thought’, to reflect, as well as have a better awareness and possible reassurance of counselling.

My lasting thoughts are….

  • It is best not to keep secrets from your therapist, as this may sabotage your therapeutic journey. Remember that your therapist is there to support you in whichever direction, you wish to go, therefore be open and your true self, with your therapist.

  • Trust the process - remember... therapy at various times in our life, can be more difficult to do, than other times, depending on external and internal factors and what needs exploring. Be prepared to work through your concerns, even when it gets difficult, as challenging subjects and revisiting the past, can bring about difficult emotions, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Your therapist may also show curiosity and challenge your thoughts, feelings and silences. Therefore, trust the process of reflection and development, so you can develop an awareness and skillset of self-care and support. However, if you truly believe that the process is not working for you, share this with your counsellor, so you can re-evaluate your needs and/or possibly signpost/transition you to another therapist.

  • Acknowledge the value of time - which is a great healer. Counselling can be short term, mid and long term, and depending on your concerns and/or goals, will determine the time needed to explore and make those relevant changes/developments. If/when you decide to continue your journey, without counselling, speak to your therapist about this conclusion, so that your therapist can finalise your counselling work together, as well as highlight your developed skills and tools to support you moving forward in life.

I wish you wellness on your counselling journey.


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