How to get the most out of a counselling session?
You’ve taken the step to schedule your first appointment with Dr Barbara Louw. You may be nervous or worried you might not know what to do when you get to her office or connect online.
You have all these thoughts running through your head like, “Will she judge me? Will she believe me? Can she understand my dilemmas? Will it help?” You consider postponing the appointment, but you’re in a crisis or trying to prevent more trauma.
In the end, you decide you are going to keep the appointment.
Once you find a counsellor with whom you are compatible, you will want to get the most out of your investment in time and money. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the counselling session.
- Be honest
Your honesty is essential for making the progress that you are longing for. Dr Barbara Louw works under strict client-counsellor confidentiality principles to keep everything you discuss private (unless you are a danger to yourself or others).
She will invite you to tell her about yourself, and about your thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Your unique story is of key importance and she will lend a hand by encouraging and coaching you to greater clarity and mastery of your goals.
- Counselling goals
Together you will figure out what goals you’d like to work on in counselling. These goals can include the following areas: emotional, relational, behavioural, spiritual, health, career or work.
Identifying your goals will help you focus on what you most want to talk about in your sessions. It will also help you talk about progress toward your goals.
Dr Barbara Louw uses the well-researched Wholistic Wellness Coaching Model. This model helps you to see all the areas that are important in your life. This is a tool to help you to evaluate where you are and to measure your progress.
- Keep a journal of your journey to wellness
During your conversations, Dr Barbara Louw might make a statement or ask a question that you want to reflect on later. Make a note in your journal.
She will give you homework to assist you in creating constructive growth. Keep a record of your counselling goals, reflections, attempts and progress. It’s as important to focus on your thoughts and insights as it is to progress.
Keeping a personal record of your emotional and relational goals and reflections will help increase your focus, motivation, and self-awareness.
- Prepare for sessions
Get your journal or notebook out before your session and reflect on what you’ve been working on, thinking about or stuck on. Write down any questions you have or any topics you want to focus on in the next session. That way you can start the session focused on what’s most important to you.
Make a note of the difficult things you have to get off your heart and share those at the beginning of the session. If you leave the hard stuff till the last few minutes, you won’t get the assistance that you need.
- Before ending counselling
Speak up if you are thinking about ending counselling, whether it’s due to making the progress you wanted, financial challenges or other difficulties. Together you can take time to summarize and celebrate all your hard work.
- The counsellor will not “fix” you
Dr Barbara Louw is committed to helping you find your voice. In a crisis, we often want relief as soon as possible and feel like we’ve run out of options. When a person feels uncomfortable, they might put pressure on the professional counsellor to “fix” them or the problem. Counselling is not about fixing you. You are not broken.
Pressuring the counsellor to fix you (or your spouse or family members) will leave you feeling more hopeless and frustrated. Getting the wrong kind of advice can rob you (and your spouse or family members) of the opportunity to find your solutions and develop more confidence when faced with challenges.
Own your problem and your progress. She says: “Counselling is a gentle nudge to change in the right direction because you are resilient”.
- Keep counselling private
Protecting the confidentiality of what is discussed in a counselling session goes two ways. The counsellor gives an undertaking to follow professional guidelines and protocols to honour your privacy and confidentiality.
On the other hand, you have to establish boundaries around your counselling sessions. Be selective in sharing what you are working on in counselling until you are starting to make progress. Resist the urge to use the counsellor’s ‘expert opinion’ to speak down to loved ones or to ‘spill all the beans’ to your best friend.
As you grow towards wellness you will begin working on defining yourself to your loved ones in a new way. It’s very different to say what you are going to do versus what your counsellor thinks you should do. In Dr Barbara Louw’s sessions, she will assist you by building your confidence, empowering you and helping you to grow.
- Practice wholistic wellness
Lastly, you don’t have to wait until there is a crisis to come to counselling. While a crisis is motivating and a time where patterns are more easily observed, you can also attend counselling before your relationships or health is at a crisis point.
Many people come to counselling to receive coaching on personal or relationship growth goals. Others continue counselling on an as-needed basis to help maintain changes they’ve made.
Dr Barbara Louw helps you to become well through wholeness with the Wholistic Wellness Coaching Model as your guide. The counselling session is a place to gather clarity, stay motivated and receive both encouragement and a new perspective.
*Wholistic refers to whole-person well-being.