Frequently Asked Questions

What happens in the course of counselling varies from person to person, depending on your goals for counselling and your life circumstances. That being said, for most people counselling follows the same overarching pattern.

Assessment is where you’ll work together with your therapist to determine your goals for counselling, what barriers prevent you from meeting those goals, and how best to address those barriers.

Phase one of counselling is for establishing safety and stabilization. The main reason for this is to make sure that you’re ready to do the hard work of therapy – kind of like a runner training for a marathon. This is done externally by making sure you’re free from danger (safety) and internally by developing strategies to help you deal effectively with difficult emotions (stabilization).

Phase two of counselling is the processing phase, where you’ll work with your therapist to address the root causes of your difficulties. This could range anywhere from changing relationship dynamics to addressing childhood trauma. This tends to be the longest phase of therapy – kind of like running the marathon itself.

Phase three of counselling is reconnection, where you’ll work with your therapist to determine how you want your life to look now that you’ve dealt with what brought you to counselling. This tends to be the shortest and most joyful phase of counselling – kind of like deciding what you want to do after you finish your marathon. Many people don’t need counselling for this phase.

The length of counselling varies according to your goals for counselling, your life circumstances, and your life history.

In simple cases, counselling can take only around 5 sessions. An example of a simple case would be an adult who grew up in a healthy home environment, is able to take good care of him or herself on a day-to-day basis, and is seeking treatment for the resolution of PTSD related to a recent motor vehicle accident.

In complex cases, counselling can take several months or even years. An example of a complex case would be someone who was abused and/or neglected when they were growing up, currently lives in an unstable environment, and is struggling with addiction. This person can still find healing and happiness – it just takes longer and harder work.

Everyone has different likes and dislikes, but here are three basic criteria that can help you make the right choice.

1. You can see yourself having a strong therapeutic relationship with them. The healing of counselling takes place in the context of a relationship, so having a solid relationship with your therapist is the foundation of everything else. Regardless of individual style or characteristics, a good therapist should be empathetic, authentic, and capable of seeing the best in you.

2. They are skilled and confident. At the end of the day, you can have a good relationship with your grandma – and she probably won’t charge you money for it. A good therapist should therefore not only be empathetic and kind, but also highly skilled and confident in their abilities. They should also be able to keep you in the loop as to where therapy is headed and why they’re doing what they’re doing.

3. They’ve done their own therapy. What separates excellent therapists from their peers is that the excellent ones have done their own inner work. People who have worked through their own shit tend to live their own values deeply, laugh easily, and relate to others with profound understanding and compassion. Going to a therapist who hasn’t done their own work may not be the best use of your resources – kind of like going to a personal trainer who doesn’t exercise.

Still Have Questions?

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