• What does counselling feel like? A real client’s experience

    Never had counselling before?

    What to expect and how to get the most out of it

    What does therapy feel like? Here is the experience of a real client.

    Hi my name is Nikki

    I recently had counselling for the first time.  I was hopeful that it would help me but also unsure of what to expect and nervous of giving it a try.  I wanted to write about my experience in the hope that it will demystify the process for other people and to make some suggestions about how to get the most out of it.

    What to Expect

    After a brief chat on the phone, I met with my counsellor for an initial session. It was nerve-wracking to say the least. Lots of thoughts flew through my head.  What will she be like?  Will she think I’m an idiot? What if I find out things about myself that I don’t like? What if it feels too uncomfortable to talk about? What if my worries aren’t important enough for a counsellor? What if its all a waste of time and doesn’t help me at all!

    I immediately felt relieved when we met.  My counsellor was warm and welcoming, open and straightforward.  She clearly explained what counselling was about and we made a contract together covering things like length of sessions, fees and confidentiality. She started by asking me what I would like to talk about.  This seemed a big, daunting question but I was reassured to hear that she didn’t expect me to have all the answers or even all the questions sorted in my head yet and we explored this together.

    I found my first few sessions quite difficult.  It was hard to open up and I wasn’t used to talking about my emotions.  My counsellor was very patient and moved at my pace. She didn’t question me about things that I wasn’t ready to talk about or judge me.  As our meetings together continued, she listened and tried to understand how it feels to be me and how I feel about my problems. Also, she didn’t tell me what to do but gave me the time and space that I needed to work things out for myself.  After a few sessions I found it easier to open up and talk about how I felt.  I started to understand myself better and learnt to live in the moment and be kinder to myself.  This has had a really positive impact on my whole life.

    How to get the best out of your first counselling session(s)

    • Counsellors are trained to ask questions and listen attentively but they are not mind readers so be open and honest.
    • You can talk about anything you want.   The counsellor will not judge you and will be comfortable with whatever you want to say.
    • Ask questions if there is anything that you don’t understand or is concerning you.
    • Have realistic expectations.  There is unlikely to be a quick fix and counselling may initially feel quite difficult.  It may take a few sessions before you become aware of positive changes in your life.
    • Be prepared to ask for a different counsellor. It is okay to say if you don’t think a particular counsellor is right for you.  Research shows that for counselling to be effective it is really important for the client and counsellor to have a good relationship.  Counsellors know this and will not be offended if you feel that they are not the right counsellor for you. They may be able to offer you some help in finding the right person.

    If you would like to talk to a counsellor you can get in touch with Birmingham Counselling Services by calling 0121 314 9903, or via www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk

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