Great expectations? Hopes when beginning counselling
Making contact with a counsellor can be a difficult first step, especially as our ideas about what they will do or be like can cause concern and anxiety. These expectations may be formed by presentations of counsellors that we witness in the media, or cultural and historical stereotypes that permeate our lives.
Amongst other things, when we start thinking about seeing a counsellor we might expect them to provide us with advice and guidance that will fix all our problems. We might hope that these issues can be resolved quickly and with as little mess as possible. One might wish for some in-depth analysis, where after a few sessions we are given a diagnosis and told how to fix it.
Whilst having expectations that a counsellor may be able to help them will be useful, some assumptions may lead to potential disappointment, as counsellors primary concerns are to empower and enable individuals to identify and come up with resolutions to their problems themselves.
Given this, what might you expect from your counsellor? You should expect them to be a good listener, someone who is genuine and who you feel you could build a trusting relationship with in order for you to open up and explore potentially difficult emotions. It is therefore important that you feel safe, and that they have created an environment, both physically and mentally that allows you to do that. The safe space created should give you time to think and work through your issues at your own pace. Counselling relationships should be viewed as ‘partnerships’ where you work together to identify problems and come up with possible solutions, so it’s important that your counsellor is in touch with their emotions as they experience them and can effectively communicate them to you.
So you can expect a number of things from your counsellor, but what can your counsellor expect from you? Generally counsellors do not have many expectations, but they may hope for a desire on your part to undertake the emotional work that will come up for you in the sessions. If you can work towards that, then hopefully the time you spend together will enable you to find some clarity with regards to your feelings and how to deal with them.