Counseling is about creating a safe, trusted environment between you and your counselor,
where you can address the issues or challenges in your life and work together to find
solutions and healing. For counseling to be effective, it’s essential for the client to
take an active part in the process, both during our sessions and regularly outside of
the sessions. If a client is unwilling or unable to look within himself or herself in
an honest way, it’s highly unlikely that this client will accomplish lasting changes
and reach the goals that he or she has set for counseling.
It takes a lot of courage, strength, and humility to seek counseling and to be open to personal growth and exploration. I commend you for your courage in taking the step to pursue counseling.
The first counseling session, called an intake session, is typically 60-90 minutes. We talk about your current concerns as well as any relevant life history. We also work together to identify your goals for counseling. Each subsequent session is approximately 50 minutes.
The length of therapy varies from person to person, and it depends on your unique situation and life circumstances. Counseling may take just a few sessions before you feel that you have reached your goals, or it may take longer such as months, or even years. We work together to identify how therapy progress is going and make modifications as needed. A client’s feedback on how the sessions are progressing is always welcome, so that we may make changes to our approach to enhance your success. Even after successfully completing therapy, clients may need or desire additional sessions from time to time as a refresher on what they have learned or gained in therapy.
It is important to find a counselor with whom you feel comfortable and whom you feel is qualified to help you with your therapy goals. As with any professional, there are a range of personalities, styles, and approaches, and finding the right counselor is a key component of your comfort and success in counseling.
Confidentiality means that I will keep the topics and issues we discuss in therapy, as well as your identity, private and between us. Confidentiality extends to my work with children and adolescents as well. Confidentiality is essential in helping a client to feel that therapy is a safe and trusted environment, and that he or she can address the issues in his or her life without judgment.
The exceptions to confidentiality are in cases of a client’s intention to hurt him or herself, disclosures of abuse or neglect of children or the elderly, or if a client discloses the intention to harm someone else. Confidentiality must be broken in these cases to protect the client and/or others.
Clients may also elect to release some of their health information to other providers, such as doctors, school counselors, or other family members, with advance written permission.
It can be normal for children and teens to keep their thoughts and feelings inside. Developmentally they may not have the tools or comfort in expressing themselves through words. You may notice other changes in your child, such as changes in his/her personality, behaviors, or school performance. Play therapy and expressive arts therapies are often helpful in encouraging children and teens to express themselves without using words.
The Association for Play Therapy delineates that play therapy helps children:
(Association for Play Therapy, www.a4pt.org)
Expressive arts therapy incorporates a range of expressive materials and modalities, such as paint, collage, clay, movement, poetry and expressive writing, music, and imagery to invite clients to express themselves in unique and creative ways. The depth of our experiences often goes beyond trying to express ourselves in just words, and the expressive arts invoke our natural abilities for creative expression and healing.
Clients are never forced to engage in expressive arts during a session. Clients are in control over with which modalities they are comfortable and desire to use. Many clients report positive experiences and enhanced insight into their struggles during and following the use of expressive arts.