Let’s start by telling the truth: counseling is a large investment of your time and money. Living in the Issaquah area is expensive enough and commuting to work is long enough – no need to throw away time and money. And by the time you start counseling, you’ve probably been suffering long enough that you’re really ready for things to be better. Since your time and money are being spent, here are some ways to make sure to get the most out of it.
1. Make sure you connect
Do your homework when picking a counselor. Ask people you trust, like friends, family, doctors, for names of counselors they know and trust. Look online. As you read counselors’ web sites and blog posts, watch their videos, you’ll begin to get a sense of them. When you’re ready, contact a few counselors and ask for a consultation. During the consultation, you’ll learn more about how they work and they’ll learn about you. Both you and the counselors will be able to tell if you are a good fit for one another.
In sessions, pay attention to whether and how well you connect. Keep an eye out for how well the counselor seems to “get you.” Are they empathetic, can you get to know them enough to feel like you have some things in common or that they are a bit like you? Does the counselor seem to pay attention to you?
2. Come regularly.
Just like with exercising at the same consistent time of day, you will start to become accustomed to a certain day of the week being yours to share, get care, learn, grow, and heal. You can look forward to it. If you miss weeks in between, sessions are spent catching up instead If you start and end on time, you’ll get your full time. Especially if your counselor is using a method that has a bit of a plan to it, like EMDR, there is a lead in, work, and an easing out. When sessions are cut short, the needed parts might not happen, or might not give the full effect or benefit.
3. Do your homework.
If you have homework, try your best to do it. If you’ve said yes to accepting it, you’re saying yes to saving some money and time – it’s not being completed in session, but reviewed and digested in session. If you don’t want homework, it’s OK to say that (see below – telling your counselor if something’s not working. If you don’t have time or would rather keep counseling in the counseling office – not that I’m recommending that (trying things out, practicing, at home is a great way to progress) – just say so.
4. Share even if you’re scared
It can be scary sharing intimate details with someone. That’s why it’s so important to find a counselor you connect with and can trust. But the more you can tell them about yourself and your history and your needs, the better able they are to incorporate those things into the therapy and help you process them and heal.
And 5. Tell your counselor if something’s not working.
Counselors are human beings. Just like you, we have grief, moves, children, hobbies, demeanors, etc. If something we’re doing isn’t working for you, you’re paying in money and time without benefit. Please please tell your counselor if you need them to hold you accountable, not push you so hard, change your schedule, work on different goals, or if you’re just having a day when you need to just “be” and not work on anything. We all need those days. I’m of the opinion that you know you best. I know human nature and development, psychology, family systems, and counseling but you know you.
So now I put it to you.
Pick one of these things to start with. And try it out with your counselor. If you want, you can even tell them I said to. Then post below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with how it went. Thanks for reading.