What does therapy or counseling look like?

Joe Houghton – licensed under CC BY 2.0

Unless it’s something you have experienced first hand, having a good understanding about what actually happens in a therapy or counseling session is often skewed by stereotypes we’ve been exposed to in the media.   Misconceptions about therapy being passive, only for someone who is ‘crazy’, or a place where clients are blamed or shamed by the therapist are powerful enough to prevent people from seeking help.  Therapy and counseling are useful tools for people to improve their lives, and wanting more out of life is nothing to be ashamed of.

How do I figure out if I can work with a provider?

When determining to work with a therapist or counselor, it is important to consider your comfort level with the approach and clinical style of the provider.  Asking questions about a provider’s approach, what the typical framework for counseling looks like, as well as potential risks and benefits are good places to start.

What actually happens in therapy or counseling?

Usually, the first few sessions are used to determine compatibility between the client and the provider.   A provider may ask you to discuss your reasons for seeking help and get more information about the presenting concern.  Exploring how you would like your situation to be different is also commonly covered during the start of services.  The sessions that follow are in the ‘working phase’ in which a client and their provider are actively working on change.  For many clients, counseling and therapy is time limited and the duration of services is based on individual needs and progress made towards achieving the defined goals. You and your provider work together to review progress and make decisions about continuing services or ending them. The final phase of services involves summarizing your gains, reviewing the skills learned and identifying resources for continued personal growth.

A highly effective approach

My approach to counseling and therapy is based largely on science-backed interventions that allow my clients to feel safe, supported and as comfortable as possible. Taking on painful past experiences and overcoming obstacles to current goals requires confidence, empowerment and strength.  My clinical expertise is used to foster the strength and power of my clients allowing them to achieve success.

It is also incredibly important that you, as the client, feel heard.  My counseling style utilizes extensive active listening and empathy building skills.  It is my responsibility to ensure I understand my clients fully, so I seek more information through open-ended questions and get clarification about dynamic experiences. I provide a theoretical ‘mirror’ and setting for my clients to reflect on their personal understanding of their past experiences, current problems, and goals.   My counseling expertise involves working collaboratively with my clients and making shared decisions about how to achieve what is most important to them.  Once the goals are clearly defined, I work together with my client to succeed in the change process and measure progress toward their goals.

If you, a loved one, or friend has been thinking about talking to someone, figuring out where to start can be confusing.  Having an understanding of what getting help would look like and getting necessary information about services is a great first step. Reaching out for support and talking to someone takes incredible strength and you can take the first step today using the Contact form or calling the office at (516) 506-0836 to discuss how to get started.