Written By Alison Ralph Date: 05/02/2024
Although there has been a lot of talk over the past few years, and especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, about mental health and good self-care, there is not a lot known about counselling and what to expect from counselling sessions. So whether it is for you or a loved one, I am going to explain in this blog post what to expect from counselling sessions and help you to see the benefits and things to look out for. I want everyone to know that counselling is beneficial when you have found the right counsellor and counselling type for you. I will include:
- What counselling is
- Who can benefit from counselling
- How many sessions you may need
- Different counselling styles
- What to expect in a counselling session
- Areas that counselling can help with
- Confidentiality – it’s importance and limitations
- Who Alison Ralph is and how we can work together
What is counselling
The NHS defines counselling as ‘a talking therapy that involves a trained therapist listening to you and helping you find ways to deal with emotional issues’.
I feel that counselling is more than that. It is a safe space for a person to discuss their problems or any difficult feelings. The environment is confidential and with a non-judgemental third professional who has no ideas about your life or the people around you. This allows the client to talk openly and honestly.
The counsellor will not give advice but will help you to understand how you are feeling and identify any possible root causes. They may then work with you to create a plan of action to help you to accept your issues or create new ways of coping with the way you are feeling.
They may offer you tools and knowledge to help you to achieve the outcome you would like.
Who can benefit from counselling?
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION OR DIAGNOSIS TO BENEFIT FROM COUNSELLING!
Anyone can benefit from counselling. Whether you are 6 years old or 96 years old. It is important to find the counsellor who is the right fit for you or your child. This could take a couple of attempts at meeting different counsellors but is very important! You might also like to find a counsellor who has experience working in a certain area or who is focussed on a particular issue such as, anxiety or relationships.
How many sessions will I need?
It is difficult to say exactly how many sessions a person might need until speaking to them and then it is still not always predictable. I find that on average, clients stay for 6-10 sessions. However, I have clients who have been for less than this and have clients who have stayed with me for longer than a year.
The important thing is that you can take as long as you want and need to work through the things that you feel are important to develop yourself. Everyone is so different and one client is never the same as another.
You might have heard of things like talking therapy and CBT but what are these and what does it mean for you.
Earlier I mentioned that it is important to find the therapist for you. In the same way, different counselling approaches are more suited to some people than they are others.
I am an integrative counsellor which means I am trained to work with all counselling styles and can tailor these towards each individual client and their needs.
- CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) – this is the one that is very popular with the NHS and can get quite a bad rep. I think that when used with the right person and alongside other counselling approaches, it can be very affective. It looks at being more aware of automatic thinking and changing thought processes to benefit a person.
- Person Centred Counselling – this approach is used to allow a person to talk through their issues and come to conclusions and treatment plans themselves. The counsellor is there to facilitate only.
- Transactional analysis – This has become one of my most used approaches. It looks at linking current ways of thinking and feeling with past experiences and learning. We can then make sense of a certain behaviour or way of thinking and make changes.
- Gestalt – This looks at focusing on the present ways of feeling and world around you to help with your issues.
There are many other counselling styles too but these are not ones that I am familiar with. You will find when coming into my practise that I use a mixture of the ones above.
What to expect in a counselling session
When you arrive for your first counselling session you will probably find that the counsellor will first outline the counselling agreement to be made between the two of you. This will ensure that you are both aware of the boundaries and expectations. The counsellor will be following certain guidelines to ensure you both remain safe in the therapeutic process.
Your counsellor will then allow you to talk about your reasons for getting in touch, your expectations for the counselling sessions and what you are hoping the outcome will be.
Together you will talk about a plan of action and if agreed, each session after this will work around the plan of action.
You will find that the counsellor doesn’t ask you lots of closed questions, it shouldn’t feel like an interview. The counsellor will reflect on what you have said and allow you that time to talk and feel your emotions if you need to.
Confidentiality is very important within the counselling setting. Every counsellor will follow confidentiality as outlines by their professional bodies. This ensures that you can come to a place and talk about what ever you like in what ever way you want.
Of course there are times that the therapist will break confidentiality and these are when they feel you are going to be a danger to yourself or anyone else. Or if they have agreed with you to talk to your doctor or medical professional for any reason.
How does counselling help?
Remember, you do not need to have a mental health condition or medical diagnosis to come to counselling. You also don’t need to feel at your worst!
Counselling can help with:
- Fears and phobias
- Childhood issues
- To talk through a dialemma
- And more!
Hello! I am Alison Ralph. I am a counsellor and hypnotherapist based in Macclesfield. I also work with people online.
I have experience working with adults from a wide range of ages and for a number of issues. I often use a combination of counselling and hypnotherapy on agreement with the client and if we think that it will help.
Areas I have experience working with are:
- Anxiety and panic, including phobias
- Stress and overwhelm
- Childhood issues
If you would like to have a chat and find out how we can work together then please get in touch. I always like to begin with a phone consultation so we can have initial contact and make sure that we are happy to work together. Use the links below to call or email.