(Article by Dr Barbara Louw)
Most people expect to walk into a counsellor’s office and after an hour emerge problem free, healed and whole. Of course there are the naysayers who walk into the same office with the notion that nobody will ever be able to ‘fix’ them.
The truth is that 98% of people will feel better after a single session where they used the opportunity to share their worries, concerns and pain. The initial relief might enable some to refocus and work through the challenges, while other might need a few more counselling sessions.
Counselling is a therapeutic process where a counsellor guides you to do the essential work to ensure grow towards wellness. The therapeutic work that is necessary will include taking appropriate responsibility, making changes and adapt enough to set new life goals.
The real work starts with continued commitment to achieve these goals and engaging in new behaviour patterns which prevent you from going back to you ‘old ways’. The success of your counselling process is largely dependents on your commitment and willingness to change.
How can you get the best from your counselling relationship?
- Be committed to become well.
- Choose the best available counsellor who specialises in dealing cases like the problems you face. Reputable counsellors have no problem to give account of their education and professional registration status.
- Make sure of the fees and contractual detail.
- Be honest with yourself and your counsellor. Keeping secrets and withholding strategic fact disempowers the counsellor from formulating a comprehensive picture of what the challenges and obstacles are and how to address your unique situation.
- Do your homework diligently.
- Adjust your sleeping pattern and sleep well to allow you to enhance the healing process.
That being said, why are some people dissatisfied with their counselling experiences? There are a number of reasons that I would like to highlight.
- The main question is: Why do you make an appointment for counselling? Your answer will be a significant indication of the outcome of therapeutic process. If you come for counselling to please someone, we are wasting precious time. If you sit in my office saying “My sister forced me to come…” or “My manager sent me, but I don’t need any help...” the outcome will be poor. You are not committed and you enrolled your sister or manager for blame if the process fails.
- Some people are affected by the perception that there is a stigma to getting counselling. They are scared to be ‘analysed’ or that the counsellor may think they are ‘crazy’. Starting from this point severely limits the possibility to helping you.
- Arriving for a counselling session when you are numbed out or high on substance is counterproductive.
- However, there are clients who are in love with the drama of life. Counselling is of little value for them, because they found ‘identity’ in their drama and stormy relationships. Their storms and gossip became more important than being a responsible adult.
- The last group that will not benefit from counselling are the people who are reluctant to get help. They believe they have all the answers. They have multitude of advisors, counsellors and pastors, but they listen to none. What will make a counselling session with the next counsellor any different?
Counselling doesn’t work, because you have to do the work to get away from a problem-saturated way of thinking. A good counsellor will guide you on a journey with a clear therapeutic road map towards wellness.