Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
If you’ve never been to counselling before, it can be a bit daunting. It’s a big step to take, especially if you’re not someone who finds it easy to talk about things that are bothering you, about your feelings, or indeed about yourself in general.
So what will happen on a first session? My main hope as a counsellor is that by the end of that hour you will feel much less nervous than you might feel at the start. For all the new techniques and changes that have come into counselling over time, research repeatedly shows that the single most important factor in the success of counselling is the relationship between client and counsellor. So that is primarily what the first session is about – it’s a chance for you to assess whether the environment feels right to you. Do you feel safe talking to me? Do you feel you can be honest and open? Do you feel that I understand what you are thinking and feeling?
Some counsellors, particularly in agency environments, will do a lot of form-filling at the first session. I don’t. Counselling is for your benefit, not mine, and I believe in keeping the preliminaries to a minimum. So in the first session we will spend probably 50 minutes of the hour in exploring your situation, talking about what you want from counselling, understanding what’s difficult for you, maybe thinking about what you might be able to do differently, what might change things for you.
There are two reasons why I like to dive in and start counselling with the minimum of preamble. The first is that I find filling in forms really boring. The second is that, in order that you can assess whether I am the right counsellor for you, you need to find out what I’m like to work with, and the best way of doing that is by working with me.
So, in our first counselling session we will follow our noses and see where that takes us. After that, counselling can follow many different courses, but to get a feel for what can happen, it can be useful to think in terms of a three stage model devised by Gerard Egan (pictured) : explore; understand; change.
First, according to this model, we will spend time exploring your situation, past and present. Then we will try to develop an understanding of what has happened, and what is now happening for you – to give you a better understanding of yourself and other people in your life. Finally, we will talk about change. How would you like things to change? What is practical? What are the blockages? How can they be removed?
Egan’s model is nice and simple, but of course it is an over-simplification in the form I’ve described it here. The three stages do not follow each other sequentially but tend to be mixed up. We might cycle round them many times in a single session – or then again, we might spend a long time, many sessions, exploring, and then find that understanding and change happen very quickly.
A key point here is that counselling is a very personal experience, and I adopt a flexible approach in order to meet your needs as well as possible. You may arrive at counselling very confused and distressed, very unsure of what you want. This would suggest that we might spend quite a but of time exploring and understanding. On the other hand, you might understand your situation well, and know exactly what you want to achieve through counselling, in which case the emphasis will be on helping you to implement change.
There are as many different patterns to counselling as there are clients. I therefore see it as essential that you are involved in decisions about the form counselling takes, and will ensure that, on a regular basis, we review the progress we are making. Sometimes we may feel stuck and may need to adopt a different, more creative approach. Sometimes you may need a break from counselling to let things settle. Sometimes you may feel the need for more challenge in our work. These are all things that we will discuss together as we go, to make sure that the counselling I am giving best suits your needs.