A few challenges of counselling that I have experienced myself and clients have shared. These are common factors that we can all relate to.
1) Is counselling for me or not?
Many people I speak to are often interested in what I do, who I work with etc. Some say they have had counselling or know someone who has. They also sometimes say they would never have counselling or could do with some counselling. The question of having counselling keeps on coming up for them – they may suss it out by speaking to those who have had counselling or do a quick check on the internet, researching what it is, where they could go. In my experience they do this process a few times – it’s not just a spontaneous decision and takes a big step to finally contact a counsellor.
2) Could it be you?
Those who know something about counselling may automatically look at the Counselling Directory or google and go to a top listing. There are so many counsellors out there with something to offer. Rarely people will just contact the first one they see but usually there may be a little list of criteria they follow such as gender, location, costs. They may pick a couple of contact and just email or call them. Offering a free consultation gives the potential client a chance to see if you connect and if you could work together. Some people just end their journey there.
Coming to the first session is a mixture of relief, nerves and anxiety – ‘what will it be like?’ ‘where do I start?’ Some clients rush that first session to get everything out, finally glad to have the chance to tell their story.
4) I’m changing, how about everyone else?
Many clients start to notice subtle changes in how they are – some really benefit from that precious hour for themselves, where they can talk about relationships and themselves in a very open and honest way. After a few weeks some clients get to see themselves for the first time in a long time, and start to maybe question what they want for life or a relationship.
Clients do change, there’s no way they can’t but what is important to recognise is we can only change ourselves. Those around us may find it difficult when we occasionally say no to doing something, or speak to when they speak to their manager about their heavy workload. It’s trial and error – learning more about ourselves and the people around us.
5) Now I go it alone?
In an ideal world, all clients would arrange an ending and stick to it, but this is not always the case – some clients just don’t turn up on the last session or stop sessions for a while and promise to come back and some clients never want to end sessions. The way a client processing the ending is part of the process. Many of my clients or previous clients have gradually reduced their sessions, and often made the end transition smoothly. They have gained what they needed and difficulties may arise again but they manage. Others recognise swiftly that something is too overwhelming and return and there are a few who just don’t end.
This is a very brief overview and there are so many points to be made about the challenges of counselling. Take the chance; take the challenge and you could rise to it.