Making the Most of Your Therapy
Information for clients
Thank you for your interest in my counselling service. Therapy is an opportunity to work on things in your life, and to find more satisfying and rewarding ways of living. Research shows that therapy can be very helpful for many people, and that most clients leave counselling or psychotherapy feeling much better than when they started. However, research also shows that the more clients know about therapy before they start, and the more they put into it, the more they are likely to get out of it. For this reason, I have provided this information page to tell you about the therapy I offer, and how you can make it as helpful as possible to you.
A Therapy ‘Menu’
In my counselling practice, there are many different ways in which I can help you. I like to think of myself as providing a therapy ‘Menu’, so that you can decide, with my support, what you would most like to work on. Some of the issues that clients often choose to focus on are:
- talking through an issue in order to makes sense of what has happened, and to put things in perspective;
- making sense of a specific problematic event that sticks in your mind
- problem-solving, planning and decision making;
- negotiating a life transition or developmental crisis;
- dealing with difficult feelings and emotions;
- undoing self-criticism and enhancing self-care;
- dealing with difficult or painful relationships;
Often, clients find it most helpful to work on these issues on a step-by-step basis. One of the ways that therapy may help is that I can work with you to disentangle the various strands of the problem, and help you to decide what needs to be dealt with first.
A flexible, personalised approach to helping you
The therapy that I offer is based on the belief that people who come for therapy are experts on their own lives (even if they don’t feel like they are), who have lots of potentially good ideas about how to deal with their problems. One of the main roles of a therapist, as I see it, is to help the person to make the best use of their own experience and understanding. This means that my approach to therapy is to try to be as flexible as possible in responding to your needs. Research shows that different people are helped in different ways. For instance, what some people find most helpful in their therapy is to express their feelings – sadness, anger, fearfulness. Other people find it more helpful to take a rational approach to their problems, and use the therapy to ‘think things through’. People can shift, over the course of therapy, from finding one kind of activity helpful, to then preferring to work in a different way.
I also try to be as flexible as possible around the practical arrangements for therapy. Most people attend for a one-hour session at the same time each week. For other people, this kind of arrangement may not fit with their lifestyle or their emotional needs. Please feel free to discuss with me if you want to meet more or less often. There may be constraints on what I can offer, in terms of schedule and availability, but I will do my best to accommodate your needs.
Flexibility also applies to the number of of therapy sessions that you receive. Some people come for one or two sessions, and that is enough to put them ‘on the right track’. Other people attend therapy for many months or even years. What is important is to do what is best for you personally. One of the options is what is called ‘intermittent therapy’ – if you have some sessions and then want to stop, you can always come back at any time in the future, and pick up where you left off.
The following sections look at some ways you can prepare yourself to get the most benefit from the therapy you receive.
1. Thinking about what you want from therapy
At the start of therapy, most people find it hard to be clear about exactly what it is that they want to achieve. They may have only a vague sense of what they hope to get from therapy. This is perfectly normal – I will encourage you to talk about your goals, and gradually they will become clearer. It is fine to have lots of goals, or just one goal. It is fine for your goals to change. What is important is to let me know what it is that you want from therapy.
One of the ways that you can get the most out of therapy is to spend some time on your own thinking about your goals, before the first session, and between sessions. It can be useful to write down your goals on a piece of paper, so you don’t forget them. It is useful to keep me updated if your goals change.
2. Thinking about what you think will be most helpful for you
There are big differences between people in respect of what they find helpful in therapy. It is very useful, therefore, if you can think about what you believe might work best for you, and share those ideas with me. You can do this by thinking back to times when you have had problems before, and identifying what was helpful or not helpful for you these times. You might also think about what you have heard from friends of family members, or seen on TV, about how therapy can help. Whatever you think is most helpful to you, I will try to help you with this.
3. Identifying your own personal strengths and resources
In my counselling practice I am not interested in diagnosing or labelling you. Instead, I will assume that you possess a range of skills, experiences, relationships and abilities that can be used to overcome your present problems. Part of my role is to to help you identify your existing strengths and resources, and work out how you can apply them in your current situation. If you like, you can keep a list of your strengths and resources, and share this information with me.
4. Being active between therapy sessions
Sometimes it can be helpful to engage with ‘homework’, or ‘experiments’ or ‘projects’ that you could complete between sessions. Even if this doesn’t happen, it is still useful for you to think about what has come up in the therapy, whether you are getting what you need, how the therapy can be improved, and so on. It can be hard to remember these thoughts, and one option to consider is keeping a therapy diary, where you write about what the therapy has meant to you.
5. Giving feedback
I always welcome feedback from clients, and it is really important that you are as honest and detailed as possible when sharing this with me – this helps me to tailor my approach to your needs and increases the possibility of positive outcomes for you. If you have any questions or queries, at any time, please don’t hesitate to let me know.