Counseling / Getting Help
I Think My Friend Needs Help. How Do I Get Him Or Her To See A Counselor?
For whatever reason, even in this day and age, there is for many people a stigma around therapy. It seems a bit strange to us therapists, because we think therapy is great! Regardless, many feel that going to therapy must be a sign of weakness, failure, being completely lost, innately flawed, or just plain crazy. And, of course, this is simply not the case.
Going to therapy for strength, healing, clarity, discovery, personal development, and growth is one of the most courageous and wise things any of us can do. So, very simply, take that stance with your friend. Share with them your positive view of counseling and your appreciation of their courage. If you have ever been to see a counselor, tell them about your experience in therapy. And help resource them by sharing potential referrals. More than anything, we want to know that we are not alone.
So, if you have ever struggled in similar ways as your friend, be vulnerable and tell them about it. If your relationship has a degree of authenticity and vulnerability, offer to be a supportive friend by making yourself available for processing outside of counseling. And keep in mind that people will not go to therapy if they are really not ready. And pushing too hard or trying to force them to go to therapy does not usually work very well. Even if they end up going to counseling, the work will not be very effective if they are not ready to engage in the therapy process.
Lastly, keep in mind that people are responsible for their own lives and must ultimately take full responsibility for the changes they want and need to make. Treating someone who is struggling like they are helpless is not usually helpful. People are generally stronger and more resilient than we think. Reflect the strengths you see in your friend and compassionately encourage them. Then, just follow this up with support.
Counseling / Getting Help
What Happens During My First Appointment?
The first appointment is kind of a get-to-know-you session. Depending on the therapist’s style, this may be more or less formal. For many counselors, the first session is an attempt to get the “360 Degrees” on you, your life, and your relationships. We want to know the ins and outs, the backgrounds, the patterns, the struggles, and the hopes.
If you are an individual, we want to know what your life currently looks like, what it has looked like in the past, and how you want it to look. Most people have to learn to ask really basic questions again. What did I dream for myself and my life?
If you are a couple, we want to understand your current relationship and how you got to where you are now. We want to understand your relationship history, especially with your original family when you were a child growing up. The reason we want to know this is because we almost always repeat, in some way, aspects of our original family; roles, patterns, and expectations. And we want to understand what you are wanting to create in your relationship now. All relationships are co-created, so we need to ask the very important question, “What do I want to create and how am I getting in the way of what I am wanting?”
If you are a family, we want to know how you have functioned in the past, how you are currently functioning, and how you would prefer to function as a family. Just talking plainly and openly about these simple questions in a therapeutic setting can be very powerful. What is everyone wanting? Usually, individuals within a family are wanting very similar things (understanding, connection, freedom – to be seen and heard). We just don’t know we are wanting the same things!
If we are working with your child, most play therapists, child-centered therapists, and adolescent therapists will want to get to know both you and your child over time. Our therapists are great at working with your child directly, but also letting you in on the process; offering parent support and coaching. Parenting is the hardest thing ever. And wonderful too. What a strange mix! In the first session, the counselor is going to meet with whoever makes most sense to them for beginning the complex work of strategically conceptualizing both the individuals and the family as a complete unit with its own patterns and dynamics. This is not speedy work. Be patient. It takes time. Children work at their own speed and have a unique way of working through their stuff. It can be frustrating for adults. But all of our child/adolescent therapists know what they are doing and know what they are looking for and how to help you create the family structure, function, and relationships you want.
In any case, we want you to feel, in the very first session, that we get you, we understand where you are wanting to go, and we have some good ideas of how to get you there!