What You Should Know When You Start Therapy
Starting therapy can be intimidating, especially if you have never received counselling services before. Whatever your situation, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can ease some of the anxiety around attending counselling.
What Happens in Therapy, Stays in Therapy
The first thing you should know is that if you are seeing a registered or licensed counselling professional, they are bound by their ethics code to keep all of the information you share with them confidential and private. There are a few limits to this confidentiality that your therapist will review with you before you start your work together. Second, even once you sign the consent form, you are allowed to withdraw your consent at any time for any reason – and you only have to share what you are comfortable sharing.
How to Prepare
Take some time to consider what you are hoping to achieve through counselling. Are you wanting to improve your relationships? Maybe you want to decrease your anxiety, improve your mood, or increase your ability to cope with life’s challenges. Be as specific as you can in your goals. How will you know you are making progress? How will you know you are done with therapy or ready for a break? Goals act as a compass for your work with your counsellor. When you are clear on what you want and where you want to go, it is much easier to find your way there. Goals can also change throughout therapy, your therapist will likely continue to check in on your goals, so let them know if your priorities have shifted.
What You Can Expect
You can expect that your therapist will be a safe person who will not judge you and who will treat you with respect and acceptance. You can expect therapy to be a safe place to share your struggles and your successes and that you will always be welcomed just as you are.
A counsellor will not ‘fix’ your problems for you or tell you what you should do. Therapy is a collaborative process wherein you and your therapist work together to explore new ways of being. Your counsellor will help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your life so that you can begin to make positive changes. This will not happen overnight – it takes time before you start to notice change and growth.
While you will do a lot of learning in sessions, the greatest change happens between sessions when you use what you learn in therapy and apply it in real life. Therapy can be challenging and requires hard work on your end. It can also be a lot of fun learning about yourself in such a caring, accepting, and non-judgmental environment.
Is It a Good Fit?
Some therapists offer a consult session wherein you can chat with them and decide if they are a good fit for you. Take advantage of options like these! Just like anyone else you meet, you’re not going to get along with every therapist. They are people with their own personalities and quirks, and they will bring who they are into their work with you. The relationship between you and your therapist is the foundation for all of the work you will do together, so you want it to be strong. If you find you aren’t connecting with a therapist, you can ask them for a referral to another counsellor who might be a better fit – please, don’t worry about offending them; they know this is part of the deal!
If you are ready to get started, contact our office by phone or take a look at our staff profiles and book directly with the therapist of your choice through our online portal. If you are still unsure, we offer a free 15-minute consult to answer any questions and ease any worries you might have.