Thank you to all of you who give me comments in session. I really appreciate them. One of the common questions I ask clients is this, "How can we make counseling even more valuable for you?" We have limited time, limited funds and want to move beyond the pain quickly and efficiently. From the responses I get, I have compiled the following. Please let me know what you think? Are there ones you would add or delete?
Thanks and stay cool
1. Please come prepared. You set the agenda and you tell me what you want to work on. I help make sure you stay on track (I am not a referee by the way) and that it fits within the context of what brought you to counseling. Arrive about 10 minutes before the session and collect your thoughts. Review what brings you here and your homework. Get the agenda set and quiet your mind so that you can get into the therapy zone.
2. Be specific with your agenda. “I want help with communication” or “I want to feel happy” are both vague. The more specific, the more easily we can measure progress toward the goal. If you are familiar with SMART goals, that would be a great start. People who set goals tend to be more successful in life.
3. Focus on yourself during the session. Your spouse or family member is not the focal point, you are. We cannot help them change; we can help you change. Do not worry about updating me or giving me the details. Tell me what your challenges are, where you have struggled and have succeeded. Some people are more focused on the story itself and that can be an obstacle. Change is the goal of therapy. It is about trying on new behavior, rehearsing it and then using it in the real world and the real world telling you if you did it successfully. Learn about cause and effect in the real world. When I do X, Z happens.
4. Do the homework. Ask for homework and bring in your homework from the previous session. If you struggled with it, give me a shout or an email and ask for clarification or help. Clients who have a goal, work toward the goal and get feedback on their work toward their goal tend to achieve that goal at much higher rates! We want you to have a good experience in counseling, minimize the amount of sessions to reach your goals. Oh, and sometimes therapy is painful. Forgot to warn you about that. Some sessions, you may leave asking yourself, “Did I really pay him for that?” It hurts to grow and change.
5. After the session, spend 10 minutes or so in your car or in the waiting room collecting your thoughts. Some people write a summary of high points in their journal or phone notes section. By the time you get home, most people will have forgotten large segments of the session. Pay attention to the trends and patterns that you see. You may find that you are looking at the same problem session after session and finally get a breakthrough and look at it with different lenses. You may find it is time to take a break from therapy and apply the info to your life. You may find you need more frequent sessions and then less frequent sessions to shake things up.
6. Work on the goal between sessions. Sessions are only a small part of what will make you successful. If you do the work between sessions, you increase your odds of success.