What to expect in counselling
There are no tweed suits, cigars or grim looks at Brookswood Counselling (while Mike does have a beard, it’s a friendly one). We’re sometimes surprised at how many people expect the process to be akin to lying on a couch in Freud’s office. (Others come in wanting quick fix solutions for issues that were years in the making, which is not always possible.) In actuality, we want the counselling experience to be as comfortable, and interactive, as possible. To do that, we felt that demystifying the process might help set you at ease before you even step foot in the office.
When you first contact us, we will try our best to return your call (or email) within 24 hours. It is then we will set up an appointment time and you are welcome to ask any questions or voice concerns you may have about the whole process.
At your first session, your counsellor will greet you and you will be asked to go through two forms with them: one is called the Informed Consent form, which outlines your rights as a client and our legal and ethical boundaries as counsellors; the other is an Intake Questionnaire, which will ask you for your contact information and a brief description of the issues you’re struggling with. After that general business is taken care of, the time is yours to talk and discuss with your counsellor what has been going on for you, and how that has been affecting your life. By the end of the session, your counsellor will likely have outlined some therapeutic goals with you, as well as expounded on what to expect specifically when addressing the types of concerns you are struggling with.
What Is Counselling?
Counselling is a process where a variety of concerns can be discussed, such as career indecision, anxiety, stress, loss, anger, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and relationship issues. Your first session with a counsellor is called an “intake”. The purpose of the intake is to help you identify your counselling goals and to explore what referral options might be appropriate for you at this time.
The counsellor/client relationship is a highly confidential one and s/he will not deliver reports or discuss what you talk over with him/her with anyone outside of the office without your approval. Respect for the individual and confidentiality are very important and we wish to assure you that the matters you bring here will not be discussed elsewhere. There are situations, however, where counsellors are legally required to disregard confidentiality. Specifically, if you reveal information that indicates a clear and immediate danger of injury to yourself or others or the abuse of a child, your counsellor will need to contact appropriate authorities. Counsellors are also required to release records if subpoenaed by a court order.
Risks and Benefits
There are benefits and risks to the counselling process. Counselling may involve the risk of remembering unpleasant events and may arouse strong feelings. Benefits of counselling may be an increased ability to live more effectively by improving your ability to cope with life pressures, family relationships and friends. You may also gain better understanding of yourself, your goals and values that will assist you in your personal and career growth.
Personal commitment to counselling is crucial for success. It is important that you be active, open and honest with your counsellor. Your most important task is to work toward the goals you and your counsellor have agreed upon. Seeing a counsellor will be of little benefit without additional effort outside the counselling office. This work can include thinking about the material covered in your sessions, monitoring the behaviours you want to change or working on specific assignments, such as keeping a journal, reading a book or article, or practising a new skill.
Individual, Marriage and Family Counselling
Counselling helps individuals overcome personal life challenges, realize their developmental potential and prepare for their future. Sometimes specific difficulties interfere with the natural expectations we have for our lives. Relationship issues, family disruptions, depression, anxiety or other kinds of health concerns can thwart our efforts to live lives with growing satisfaction. Counselling can help us experience a deep level of self-understanding and contribute to positive identity formation. As counsellors we find personal significance and meaning helping individuals face life’s challenges and gain appreciation for life’s many potentialities. Whether you are facing a clinical condition and have been referred by your doctor or personally recognize concerns you finally want addressed we have the advanced training, certifications and quality of character to help.
For most of us, relationships are very important. Sometimes past events, family of origin issues or simply a lack of skill can impede our efforts to live well with those we care about most. Family adjustments and transitions can be difficult to manage in a complex society. The quality of relationship is a foundational value we hold. We are trained to access research-based therapies that offer real help. We listen to who you are and what you need. We work to help you discover the skills, support, and insight that can make a difference for you and your family. Divorce can be one of the most expensive events of our lives. Yet sometimes subtle changes can provide lasting results; results that can make a difference. Couples and family counselling can be challenging work but the satisfaction we can gain for ourselves and can give to our families make it worth the effort. If you are struggling in your role as a partner, parent or child, we believe getting the right kind of help can benefit not only you, but your relationships.
When many people think of the word “trauma,” they often associate the word with war veterans or survivors of extreme abuse. While these people have certainly survived serious traumas and would be at risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma itself is defined more broadly. In fact, trauma can be defined as any negative and unexpected experience that results in feeling overwhelmed, shocked, confused, and/or powerless. (Cook & Bradshaw, 2001)
For example, neglect has been found to be extremely traumatic for children (Schore, 2003; van der Kolk, 1994), but throughout development (and life in general) it can be difficult to put words to the experience because the injury comes from the absence of something necessary rather than the presence of something tangibly wrong, like bruises. Relational traumas (ie. emotional abuse) can be similarly difficult to deal with or acknowledge as traumatic, yet can have a serious effect on one’s self-esteem and well-being. Sometimes it can be the accumulation of smaller traumas that leads someone to find an otherwise manageable situation unbearably difficult. There are many types, and degrees, of trauma that can affect one’s ability to function day-to-day, whether it be in relationships with self and others or at work or school.
At Brookswood Counselling, we work with the entire spectrum of traumatic experiences, including (but not limited to):
- car accidents
- sudden loss/unresolved grief
- childhood abuse (sexual/physical/emotional)
- spiritual abuse
- sexual assault
Our goal is to provide a gentle, non-threatening counselling experience that will facilitate healing and relief of posttraumatic symptoms. Because trauma results in feeling out of control, your counsellor will use approaches that help to empower you without overwhelming you or giving you more than you can handle. Working through trauma is not easy, but you will have a compassionate and supportive counsellor to help you throughout the process.
For more information on trauma and trauma therapy, please visit our resources section.
- Schore, A. (2003) Affect dysregulation and the disorders of the self. Norton: New York.
- Van der Kolk, B.A., & Fisler, R. (1994). Childhood abuse & neglect and loss of self-regulation. Bulletin of Menninqer Clinic 58:145-168.