What is counselling?
Counselling can help you gain a better understanding of your personal or emotional issues. Sometimes we have trouble expressing difficult feelings such as sadness, anger, guilt, shame or fear. By creating a safe, non-judgmental and supportive environment, a counselor can help you talk openly and freely about the feelings, thoughts, behaviors and relationships that could be troubling you.Together with a counsellor, you can explore a given situation and develop greater awareness and clarity about the options available before you. By enabling you to create better coping strategies to either repair or resolve your issues in a healthier manner, counselling can help you make positive changes in your life.
How can counselling help me?
Counselling can help in many ways, it depends on what you are seeking help for. Counselling can help you explore your thoughts and feelings and to define what is truly important to you. Or, you can learn how to communicate better in relationships. Perhaps you are in a crossroads in your life and you are looking for clarity in making an important decision. Counselling helps healing and recovery from a personal trauma such as a death or abuse. Perhaps you want to come to counselling to discover how to live a more meaningful life and follow your passion. Whatever the reason, counselling helps you make sense of what is happening to you, gain insight into your problem and supports you in finding healthier ways of coping with your difficulty.
Do I need to have a serious mental health problem to see a counsellor?
Counselling is a process that helps you to focus on and clearly understand any issue that is bothering you. They need not be serious mental health problems but can also be everyday concerns that crop up in your life from time to time. It could be relationship problems or stress at work, for example. No topic is too much or too trivial. We are there for anybody who is looking for support and help in handling any difficult situation in life. Coming to us does not mean that you are not capable of functioning and managing your life. Counselling is just one of the many healthy coping strategies that is available to you.
People with a diagnosable mental health condition who come to us will be referred to a psychiatrist as the condition may require medication. Once stabilized, we will work alongside the psychiatrist to provide the necessary therapeutic support.
Do I need counselling?
Every human being needs counselling at some point in their lives. We all need a space to explore and understand ourselves and our relationships better. You may be a very capable individual but when faced with a difficult situation you may feel like you need some extra support to help you cope. Seeing a counsellor is a healthy way of dealing with the plethora of issues that crop up in your life. Even counsellors themselves can seek counselling as part of their continuous personal and professional development. If you’re thinking about counselling, why not try it out and see if it can help you?
Will the information I give to my counsellor be shared with anyone else?
Anything you discuss with us will not be shared with anyone else. Confidentiality is the key factor in counselling. This confidentiality gives you the freedom to talk and share your story without worrying over the repercussions of what will happen if people find out. At The Listening Tree, we follow the BACP Ethical Code of Conduct. For us confidentiality entails that:
1. The counselling session will only happen in a private space. No one other than the counsellor and client is present.
2. The client and the counsellor enter into a written contract which clearly states that information in the session will not be shared.
3. There may be an exception to confidentiality if there is a serious threat to the client’s life or when there is a possibility of harming someone else. In such rare cases, confidentiality may be broken but every effort is made to keep the client informed.
4. The counsellor maintains discretion in social situations if she meets the client outside of the session. This may include not initiating any conversation, not befriending the client on any social networking site and actively avoiding any other social interactions in order to protect the client’s privacy.
5. The name of the client is not mentioned in any of the notes maintained by the counsellor. These notes are maintained at a safe location.
How long will counselling take for my issue to be resolved?
The duration of counselling depends purely on your individual issue and your need. Every person has a different reason for seeking counselling and the length of the process can vary from person to person. How long you are in counselling will be a collaborative decision between the counsellor and you. In some instances, it may take 2 to 4 sessions to reach the desired goal. Sometimes it can take 20 or more sessions to get to the goal.
How long is each counselling session and how often will I need to go?
Typically, an individual counselling session lasts for an hour and occurs once a week. The idea is for you to meet the counsellor on a continuous basis till a mutually agreed goal is achieved. However, depending on your need and the counsellor’s schedule, the session can extend beyond an hour and the frequency can vary from 2 sessions in a week to 2 sessions in a month. Once the goal is achieved, we would encourage you to formally end the process with the counsellor.
Can you give me solutions to all my problems and advise me on my situation?
The process of counselling is not prescriptive and we will not tell you what to do. Rather, the goal of counselling is to empower you to find your own unique solution to fit your particular needs. We also do not believe in offering ready made solutions to you because every person’s life is unique. What works for one person may not work for you. Instead, counselling is a collaborative process where the counsellor and you will work together to understand your situation more clearly and explore options that work for you. Through our joint efforts, we believe that solutions will slowly emerge that suit your life and personality. It will require time, effort and commitment from the both of us.
What happens in the first counselling session?
After sending us an email or calling to make an appointment you can visit us in any one of our branch offices. Each counselling session is 50 minutes to an hour long.
The first session serves as a basic introduction, you and the counsellor get to know each other a little bit. The counsellor will explain how The Listening Tree approaches counselling and you can clear any doubt you may have about the process. You will be invited to explain why you are seeking help and what kind of help you’re looking for. The counsellor will ask you basic questions about your background to get an idea of who you are. In the process, the counsellor will try to get an idea of how and whether she can help you or not. On your end, you will get a feel for what our counsellor’s approach and personality is like and you can decide if you feel comfortable in continuing or not. At the end of the session, if there is mutual agreement to continue, together you decide when and how often to meet for subsequent sessions.
Tell me more about the free 10 minute consultation you are offering?
As you can very well imagine, not much counselling can be done in 10 minutes to comprehensively deal with an issue that you've spent a long time struggling with. Instead, the idea of the free 10 minutes is to have a real person answer any questions or doubts you may have about counselling that is not covered in our website. The 10 minutes can also help you decide how comfortable you feel in talking to one of our counsellors and whether or not you want to seek counselling.
Can a counsellor visit me at home?
We take care to create an environment that is safe and confidential, an office space that enables you to openly share what is bothering you. Knowing there are other people around in your home, or being in the same environment where you are experiencing some of your difficulties, may affect you in ways that are detrimental to the counselling process. We believe that the sanctity of this process can only be maintained in a location that is safe, neutral and private. That is why we prefer you visit us in our offices.
Will I be hypnotized in the counselling session? Can you get me to do something against my will?
We do not use any kind of hypnotizing technique. The kind of counselling followed in The Listening Tree is not mind – reading or hypnotizing. Nothing happens without your consent. We will not force you to do anything. We only use talk therapy to provide counselling.
Some techniques may require you to write, draw or keep a journal. We may ask you to follow some techniques to relax such as meditation or visualization. Any suggestion we make will be accompanied by an explanation of what this entails, how it might benefit you, any preparations you need to make and other details. Only with your fully informed consent and voluntary participation will such techniques be used.
How can I make my loved one go for counselling?
People who have voluntarily put in effort into counselling usually reap the most benefit. Forcing someone into counselling usually doesn't work well for either the person or the counsellor because the relationship has to be based on mutual trust and acceptance to yield results. You or a counsellor cannot force a person to address their problem areas or to change.
Is it possible for you or someone else, perhaps a friend or family member, to gently encourage your loved one to try out at least one session of counselling? This may help them decide on whether or not they want to continue with it. It has to be something they want to do for themselves in order for counselling to work. If they won’t see a counsellor, even speaking with a trusted person who will hear them out can be helpful.Perhaps you could ask them to read this or any other counselling website to help them get over their fears regarding the counselling process. You could try encouraging them to speak with someone who has been through counselling. There are online help forums and chats where they can talk to people who are going through similar problems. There are self-help books that may encourage them to look for different ways to cope.
It is definitely not easy for you to see a loved one in distress and we wish you all the luck and support in your efforts to help them. It is very important to remember to take care of yourself when you are trying to take care of someone else. If the process is very stressful for you, you may wish to consult a counsellor yourself in order to deal with your feelings in a healthy way.
How will I know counselling is working?
Very early in your professional relationship with The Listening Tree, you and your counsellor will discuss what your goals are and what kind of help you can expect. Your counsellor will also review the progress that is being made and discuss them with you at regular intervals. This will provide both you and your counsellor an opportunity to decide what is working and what is not. This process will provide you with criteria that you can then use to evaluate your sessions.
Gaining valuable insights into your behaviour, uncovering patterns that you didn't know existed, joining the dots between the past and present, confronting some of your mental blocks or communicating better in a relationship could be some of the criteria you use to see if counselling is working for you. The criteria will differ for each person.
We do wish to point out that as you develop greater awareness, it is possible for you to experience uncomfortable feelings such as anger or fear. You may go home after a particular session feeling unsettled. However, if you hang in there and discuss all the changes you are going through with your counsellor, it will help you make progress. Many people report feeling worse before they start to feel better. If you have any doubt about the counselling process, please discuss them with your counsellor so you can both make the required adjustments.