5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Counselling Journey

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Counselling Journey

Attending counselling for the first time is challenging – no doubt about that. It’s scary, has the potential for us to feel embarrassed, and it’s normal to have a deep-seated fear of what unchained beast may be lurking beneath the thin veil of our personal façade, even as we know it. We have a fear of being judged and of Pandora’s box – what might come out and can we put it back in again!

So here you are about to pick up the phone, you have wrestled with yourself incessantly looking for excuses not to call. ‘I don’t really need it..’, ‘it’s not that bad’, ‘I’ll be ok..’ , ‘The problem is with them, not me!”. Ultimately you have come to this point, terrified but determined to feel better, even if to prove them wrong. Here are just a few things to remember so that you not only get the most out of what you pay for, but what you learn, discern, establish, redesign, forfeit, reshape, plant, stir-up, grow in or otherwise explore to be truth.

Take the First Step

Many clients that attend counselling say that making that first phone call is one of the hardest steps along with finding the courage to turn up. However, once they have flung themselves over the threshold and into sessions they report feeling relieved, invigorated and ultimately pleased they made the decision to get the ball rolling. 

‘Sometimes we simply need to have a little faith and step out of the boat..’

Be Honest

Honesty seems like a simple thing, but if we really drill down it can be harder than we think. Not to imply that we set out to deliberately deceive but part of the counselling experience is learning to unveil those parts of ourselves that we have hidden under a number of guises, sometimes for many, many years. We tell ourselves that cause and affect were different from what they actually were, we seek to either allay blame or to take blame unto ourselves where none is warranted or we simply deny everything in the hopes it will go away. Healing in this counsellor’s opinion takes place first in transparency, honesty first with ourselves and then with others. But why do we do this, why not be

Healing in this counsellor’s opinion takes place first in transparency, honesty first with ourselves and then with others. But why do we do this, why not be real about things as they are? In truth there is transparency and in transparency truth, fear becomes our biggest roadblock to healing. We ask inevitably ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What if I don’t like whom I’ve become?’ ‘What happened to the strong person I used to be?’. That strong person has just become stronger simply in finding the strength to ask the question. Life happens and often happens in ways that are neither pretty nor comfortable but that’s ok because nothing grows in a vacuum. Likewise nothing picks itself up without at first falling down. Facing up to these things is overwhelming and often all too real as we question what others will think and what we will think of ourselves, instead I would challenge you to embrace the window that effective therapy can provide. A chance to look in and look through to what is inside and what we face next. After all, it is just that, simply a glimpse into those things that are within, it is totally up to you if you choose to open it.

‘In truth there is transparency and in transparency truth..’

Perseverance and Patience

Good therapy is often painful, no one likes to think it, certainly no one likes to advertise it but simple truths are important. The harsh reality is when we start to strip away what has made us comfortable, even though it may no longer serve us that cleaving sometimes brings pain. Likened if you like to commencing a new exercise regime we know it is doing us good but sometimes we have to do some hard yards to get to the final result. Perseverance and patience in the process is important in any personal transformation to make sure we get to the end of the race. We easily get disheartened if we dig deeper than we thought and un- mask unknown demons we spent years carefully locking in a little box, that was then chained, wrapped in barbed wire, placed in another box, locked in a cabinet, thrown in our own shark-infested lake with a sign on the bank saying beware of the bear! But nonetheless this well-meaning therapist has encouraged us to go diving with an oxy torch and a large crucifix to retrieve it.

‘Perseverance, patience and trusting the process will get us across the line eventually until bears become teddies, sharks become minnows and demons become saints that have made us stronger, more resilient, more loving and embracing of life and those around us.’

Do Your Homework

Good therapy finds ways to empower us and that often means practice, making an effort to change our thinking patterns and knee-jerk reactions. This might be anything from more exercise (groan..) through to entering challenging environments, picking up old hobbies or even writing a letter. Sounds a little too much like school I know, no-one likes having to work on their own time but the simple fact of the matter is those that progress are the one’s that do their homework.

The good news is this particular assignment yields lasting benefits that take us beyond who and where we are into something new, an inspired freedom that we had forgotten was even possible – until now.

Self Care, Self Care, Self Care

I said it three times just in case you missed it. Good self-nurturing practices not only maximise your chances of success but set you up to prosper in the future, heal exponentially and embrace a life of emotional and Spiritual abundance as it is meant to be. Self care can be almost anything that is beneficial and is a uniquely personal part of knowing what you need to heal and grow. People people need socialisation and empathic and introverted people often need alone time. Ultimately its about finding something that feeds you emotionally from exercise to art and music to mountain climbing. One last thing is to revisit that Spiritual outlet simply because wholeness doesn’t take place without it.


About the Author – Andrew Jewell, Wedgetail Ministries

Andrew is a Writer, Counsellor and Christian Motivational Speaker and is the founder of Wedgetail Ministries. Andrew writes articles and reflections to uplift and encourage people Spiritually and Emotionally in achieving Wedgetail’s Mission. – ‘ To lift the fallen, to heal the broken, to bring light into the very darkest reaches of humanity.. To be the very definition of Grace, that is our collective purpose.’ Andrew Jewell.

You can find out more about Andrew on his website, wedgetailministries.com,  Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Google+. Andrew can be contacted through email on .

3 Comments

Jayna Coppedge

It is important to know what your goal is so that when you reach that goal you can stop the counseling. Here are the goals I have had on separate counseling events: I need to stop trying to change him and accept him. I need a reality check- are the people at work crazy or am I? I need some tools to deal with stress so that body doesn’t suffer. I want to stop using food as the way I meet my emotional needs. After seeing a therapist and diligently doing the painful work, I was able to quit after 6 weeks-14 weeks knowing that if I needed a “booster” I could return as needed. Each time I regained perspective, confidence, hope, joy, and my relationships improved.

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Calvin Black

Andrew,
Thanks for this article on taking that first step. I think you hit on something important in addressing our hesitancy to take that first step and talk to someone. As a counsellor, I see many clients coming after months of considering what they should do about their problems. I hope your article will encourage some to find the help they need and be honest about their challenges.

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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