How can I tell this stranger all of my thoughts!? What if I don't like it??
Those are a few of probably the most asked questions of those who are new to counselling. If you've never been before, how are you meant to know? It's all confidential - so no one talks about it. What's the etiquette? What if I cry? What if I don't cry? Are they judging me?
There are a lot of strong initial feelings that we experience when we go about arranging that first session with a counsellor. Sometimes we might email them in a low moment, and then feeling a little better the following day, ignore the counsellor's response and go back to our routines. Then suddenly, three weeks later something happens and we feel low again. Really low, and we need to talk to someone. We dig out that email from the counsellor and reply, excusing ourselves for taking so long to get back to them (the counsellor won't mind, honestly) and ask for an appointment. Then somehow, you're there - in the chair and someone is looking at you expecting you to say words. Words!
I'm writing about this as I've had so many new clients start work recently, and many of them are coming to counselling for the first time. This is really exciting for me but I do empathise - as a counsellor who was required to undertake a hefty amount of personal therapy as part of my training, but also as an individual who experienced issues that my life to that point hadn't prepared me for. Things happened to me as a young woman that I wasn't equipped to deal with, and I found myself in therapy. It was the success of that therapy that inspired me to leave my previous career and build this practice.
I'm guessing that if you're reading this then you've experienced a similar thing bringing you to consider talking to a counsellor - or are in therapy currently. That's the thing - problems are a great leveler. There is no one particular type of person who comes to therapy. We all have the capacity to suffer - but I hold the opinion that we all have the capacity to look at ourselves, look at how we have come to the point we have - step back and analyse what brings us to do the things that we do, and decided whether we want to continue to do them. To allow ourselves to heal and forgive those who might have wronged us. We can still flourish despite of all of those things - like a neglected plant, we just need to be given the right environment to do so.
And this is where I come in. After making contact through one of the many channels by which I can be reached - be this Facebook, email, Twitter, the contact form on my website, someone passing on my number, seeing a business card somewhere - no matter where the person comes from or the issue they bring I will always be prepared to hear you and tell you there and then whether I think that we can work together. So many people are looking for answers when they come to counselling and the answer can sometimes seem vague. There's a reason for this, allow me to enlighten you:
You already have the answer within you, I'm just here to help you find it.
So if you're reading this and wondering whether or not to make contact - please may I urge you to do so. If you chat to me on the phone and decide it's not for you, then you will have scratched that itch. If you email me and you don't like my tone, you can delete my email and go on with your day - I promise not to be offended. It's the trying that counts, the making contact. You have the autonomy to decide what does and does not work for you. If you decide to take a risk and come along to an introductory meeting I will ask you whether you want to go ahead and work together. It's not assumed. I don't assume to know you just because I'm a therapist. You are unique, and I hope to learn more about you.
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.