Different people want different things out of counselling. Being clear about the reasons you are choosing to undertake counselling can help you prepare for a successful counselling experience. Before your appointment, you may want to consider
- what you want to get out of counselling – what are your objectives? What do you want to achieve? Try to be realistic and specific – wanting ‘to be happy’ or ‘to never feel down again’ need to be defined.
- how might you achieve your goals? Your counselling appointment is time set aside for you to identify what you need to improve your mental wellbeing (within the parameters of ethical therapeutic practice)
- what do you need to talk through/ think aloud about/ understand better?
To check you are prepared to engage in your counselling appointment, you may think about
- your willingness to engage in the process of counselling. Sometimes it can be challenging, sometimes cathartic, sometimes revealing, sometimes demanding – sometimes its a combination of all of these and more – are you up for it?
- your desire to change something to improve your mental well-being. What challenges your wish to change, ie what might stop you making changes? What encourages your wish to change, what can help you to make changes?
- Your willingness to talk about yourself, your feelings, your life-experiences?
To prepare to undertake your counselling appointment it may be useful to
- write things down either in a journal format or a thought-scatter diagram.
- practice defining how much you feel something, for example, on a scale of 1 to 10 how happy/sad/anxious/depressed/etc do you feel at any given moment?
- monitor your thoughts and behaviours closely to prepare yourself for undertaking your counselling appointment as this will develop your self awareness
- develop your emotional literacy ie practise thinking about what you’re feeling and finding a way to describe it
- read self help books and resources to get you thinking about your issues
It is important to note that none of the above are essential before your counselling appointment, but they might help you to prepare and get the most out of your counselling opportunity.