For more information about our type of therapy please read through our articles that cover individual, marriage, parenting and sexual intimacy issues here
Questions Asked and Answered below:
- I have never done individual counselling, how will counselling help me?
- Isn’t counselling just really expensive advice? How is counselling different than talking to friends, self-help books or just googling the internet for answers.
- I’m afraid the therapist is going to judge me and tell me to do things I don’t know if I want to do or to hear?
- I don’t understand how talking about something is supposed to help me?
- I want a fast fix; I heard that you have to be in counselling for years to get better. I don’t have that kind of time or money.
- I’m not “crazy” or really sick, I don’t have like serious depression or bi-polar or some of those seriuos issues. If I go to counselling what does that mean? I don’t want to get a label
Question: I have never done individual counselling, how will counselling help me?
Answer: Usually people consider counselling when they have exhausted all other means and solutions to solve whatever issue, dilemma or problem they are facing. Counselling is a partnership between the client and the therapist in which a new framework is provided to help the client. The therapist will assist the client to evaluate and understand what they really want they want and what is getting the way of getting what they want. The therapist will work with the client, leveraging the client’s knowledge about the client’s life, socioeconomic, cultural, religious, family and gender back to help client find new solutions to their current short or long term dilemma. There is no one way we help a client. Each engagement with a client is custom and unique tailored to the client’s unique situation, skills and dilemmas
Question: Isn’t counselling just really expensive advice? How is counselling different than talking to friends, self-help books or just google the internet for answers?
Answer: The short answer is no, counselling is anything but advice. Advice is someone telling you what to do, for example a couple having marital problems and a friend may give advice and say “hey, why don’t you just let him/her have his/her way. Why don’t you just let it go?” Advice is often given without context, skill consideration and without clarification of the problem. It is often motivated by the giver’s own personal background or agenda and often without clearly understanding the problem the person is facing
A master degree level mental health counsellor has thousands of hours of formal training in human behaviour and relationship dynamics. The first thing a therapist does is to really understand what the client WANTS in order to be able to correctly define the problem.
Therapist will look at things many people are not aware of like power dynamics, control issues, meta communication, problem solving skills and other dynamics that people are not aware of that can affect relationships and individuals getting a solutions.
A Therapist partners and works with the client to come up with a solution once it is very clear what the client wants. Often people want things that are unrealistic or not good for them. The therapist will help the client find an alternative realistic solution.
Other times, what people want is realistic and is good for them but they are choosing ineffectively to get what they want or they don’t want to do what is necessary to get what they want. The therapist will help the client see this and either teaches them new effective skills. Other times by helping the client see things from a different perspective the client can develop their own solutions.
The other way that counselling is different from self-help books, friends or googling the internet, is that the therapist skillfully assists the client to look at their own behaviour, thinking and choosing. A therapist is like a skillful mirror in assisting the client to evaluate “is what s/he doing effective in getting them what they want”.
The therapist will help the client evaluate the effectiveness of their behaviour, beliefs and thinking from another person’s end, often the recipient of the client’s behaviour. This of course can be challenging for the client, but it is this awareness that allows the client to choose more effectively. Books, friends and google cannot do this.
Question: I’m afraid the therapist is going to judge me and tell me to do things I don’t know if I want to do or want to hear?
Answer: The therapist is not responsible for right or wrong or good or bad or normal or abnormal in any individual’s or couple’s life. That is actually the responsibility of a client. The therapist is not a moral enforcer of behaviour or marriage, religion, family and culture. The client is responsible for those determinations. Instead, the therapist is most interested in helping the client to develop the client’s own internal evaluation system so that the client can make their own assessment and decision on what is good/bad, right/wrong, normal/abnormal for the client in the context of the client’s life.
The therapist doesn’t tell the client or couple what to do or not do or how their life should be. Instead the therapist will help the client evaluate what they say they want against what they do. The therapist will help the individual or couple to be accountable for their actions or thinking. But the therapist cannot make people do anything, even show for up for counselling.
Even if a therapist were to tell a client to do something, the therapist has no way to make the client as the therapist cannot put someone in jail or fine them. In the end it always up to the client to show up to therapy, participate and ultimate decide if what they are doing and thinking is effective in getting them what they want. The therapist will facilitate this process.
Question: I don’t understand how talking about something is supposed to help me?
Answer: Counselling is not just talking but also skills building. Clients will have homework or activities to do in between session to help them achieve what they want. In therapy we talk about a person’s behaviours, beliefs and thinking. We identify what doesn’t work and help a client find an effective replacement.
The client is then responsible for implementing what they are learning in session and practicing in between session. So therapy actually continues even when you are not in therapy. A good comparison of therapy is to taking a graduate course or physiotherapy. You show up, the teacher or instructor helps understand what is not as effective, teaches you and then you go home and practice to get better. Counselling is similar. You want to implement what you are learning to truly get better.
Question: I want a fast fix; I heard that you have to be in counselling for years to better. I don’t have that time or money.
Answer: Yes, of course, we all want a fast fix. However, usually most things are not fast but they also do not take years to get better. Even if you take some of the antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication it can take 4-6 weeks for them to take effect. Learning new behaviours or changing one’s belief or thinking can take a bit longer but no years.
The idea that counselling takes years is tied to 1 specific kind of therapy which is in the field of psychoanalysis or Freudian type therapy. The therapy practiced at All in the Family is targeted, goal oriented and specific. We do not need to delve into your past, unless the past is affecting you today. But even then we are focused on the present. We work with our clients to define the outcome they WANT. Not spending all our time around the problem and why the problem exists. We want our clients to get better as fast as possible and we do this by helping our client’s define a success or how they know they are better so they would not need to see us anymore. In fact most of our clients say our therapy is quite practical.
Question: I’m not “crazy” or really sick, I don’t’ have like depression or bi-polar or some of those serious issues. If I see go to counselling what does that mean? I don’t’ want therapist to judge or look for problems when I don’t think I’m really sick.
Answer: While are therapists have the clinical training to make clinical medical model diagnosis, we do not find those labels helpful for the client or their treatment. Most people at some point in their life will be unhappy and whether you give that unhappiness a clinical label like depression, anxiety, grief, unsatisfying relationship or poor sex or addiction, the person is unhappy. Everyone we see in our clinic is a regular person that has some life event or situation develop that they simply do not know how to deal with. Their past experiences are not helping them with their current dilemma. We help people get happy and get back to living a satisfying and meaningful life.
Labels can be really unhelpful and unfortunately people may hide behind a label or use it as excuse for their current choices or behaviour. Having a label or a diagnosis is not tied to get better; it just leads to more choices. Awareness doesn’t cause a person to get better; it just gives them new choices. However, if a person doesn’t know what to choose or how to manage those new choices they can get stuck. We help people figure out what they want, is it realistic and good for them and are they willing to do and think what they need to get what they want. If they don’t know HOW we can help them to learn, if they don’t want to do what they need to get what they want, we can help them find a replacement.
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