Counselling and Psychotherapy: What to Expect

First Session

I offer an introductory 'initial' appointment at a reduced rate so you can make sure you are comfortable with me and obtain some general information about the process of change. A first session normally lasts about 75 minutes so you have time to fully express why you have come and what changes you are seeking. I will also want to gather information on you, your immediate family and social supports, as well as on your strengths, interests, and values – that is, what is important to you as a person and makes life worth living. If you come seeking help for depression or anxiety, I may ask you to take a test so that we can determine a base line to measure success in relieving symptoms and approaching goals.

Second and Subsequent Sessions

"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals; adjust the action steps."
~ Confucius

In a second session we review the reasons you have come to counselling and psychotherapy. We then collaboratively set goals and devise the strategies and steps to help you will reach them. (Goals and strategies often change depending on your progress or on new and deeper issues that may arise.) Building the motivation and courage to make positive change and learn new behaviours is an essential part of subsequent sessions. Becoming more deeply aware of your thoughts and emotions and typical ways of assessing and reacting to important relationships, challenges, and life circumstances are essential aspects of each session. Feedback from you to me and from me to you are critical components of the process, as we measure change and celebrate successes or recalibrate and search for alternative solutions.

A Special Kind of Conversation

Counselling and Psychotherapy is at its heart about a conversation between therapist and client. The therapist is trained to listen in a special way that allows you to feel understood and valued and provides the counsellor with a way of understanding you, your present concerns and your hopes for yourself for change and healing. The sessions may seem like a normal conversation, except you will do most of the talking and I will ask a lot of clarifying questions designed to give you more awareness of your thoughts and emotions and to better recognize your strengths, resilience, talents, and successes (and potential for success). Psychoeducation (for example, on the stages of grief or the body’s response to anger) and discussions on inter-session assignments (for example, noticing changes at work or at home or key themes in a weekly journal) are also part of the dialogue. When progress towards goals is achieved the conversation turns to what worked well and why and how to continue with and maintain healthy change.

"Life is a succession of crises and moments when we have to rediscover who we are and what we really want."
~ Jean Vanier