Seeing a counselor is an important and great first step in a recovery journey. It’s a process in itself, however. Checking in regularly, expressing things that are working for you and things that aren’t and stating what you need is important to ensuring that you’re getting all that you can out of your counseling sessions. Here are some tips to make sure that happens.
Be Honest About What You Need
When you’re going through counseling, honesty is crucial. Your counselor isn’t there to judge or criticize, but they are there to help. In fact, they might even be able to shed new light on a situation where you might have felt guilt and shame. Being dishonest with your counselor only makes it difficult for them to know the best options for you and, as a result, for you to get the best treatment possible. In the same way, being honest about your needs with your counselor can go a long way. Take the time to think about what you need from counseling sessions and be sure to share these.
Discuss Your Boundaries
We all have our limits. Of course, sometimes it’s good to push these limits or see why they are built in the particular place they are in. In fact, it’s very likely that counseling will push your boundaries and bring up topics you’re not immediately comfortable with. This is ok. However, if there are significant fears you have or big “no go” topics, bring these up with your counselor. They may want to explore why, but it will be helpful for them to know these things so that you don’t suddenly and unexpectedly shut down during a session.
Say What Works, Say What Doesn’t Work
Every time you go into a session, it’s a good idea to do a check in. Your counselor might already suggest this, but going over things you talked about the previous session and talking about how they affected you throughout the time you were apart can be a helpful review. As your counselor starts to teach you different strategies and tools, be sure to share with them when something has worked and when something hasn’t worked. This might help them to rethink their strategies and it also might help them to understand you better.
Better Late Than Never
Sometimes it can be really difficult to bring up things that bothered you in a previous session or things you’re struggling with. However, it’s still worth bringing up, even down the road at a later session. Your counselor always has the opportunity to change their methods and the both of you always have the opportunity to discuss something deeper. Don’t feel like it’s too late or the moment has passed.
Try New Things
Counseling is a process that will stretch you and push you past your limits. It will teach you new things about yourself and how you interact with the world. It’s also a time to try new methods and tips that you hadn’t considered before. If your counselor is suggesting a unique or strange method, give it a shot. You can always tell them it didn’t work, but you might be surprised at how you respond to things in different ways. At the end of the day, remember that counseling was a bold step to take on your journey to begin with and you’ll get out of it what you invest.
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