Editor’s note: The following article is written in partnership with Counseling Services and the Southern Accent.
Written by: Kiana Oliver
Dear Southern Accent: Things we wished our counseling clients knew.
Maybe you’ve gone to counseling before, or you’re just getting started. Some of you might be interested, but you feel too intimidated by the process. As a graduate counseling student, I know it can sound weird to share about your private life with a stranger. Hopefully, this article can give you some answers. Without further ado, here’s a few things that your counselor wished you knew:
- You won’t see results immediately.
Wait, so what’s the big deal about counseling if I don’t get all of my problems solved? The simple answer is that counseling is not a magical solution. Although we want the best for our clients, we don’t have the ability to make everything 100% okay. Trust in the therapeutic process, and express your concerns or frustrations to your counselor.
- Counseling isn’t always about talking.
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! If you’re really introverted or you believe that actions speak louder than words, counseling can sound like a nightmare. But despite what TV shows and movies depict, counseling involves more than just chatting. Your counselor may challenge your thinking patterns or behaviors. Some counselors may even give you homework assignments.
- We make mistakes.
Counselors are imperfect human beings, and we don’t always get things right. Sometimes we make mistakes in our scheduling or we don’t always know the best way to respond. So we always appreciate our clients showing us grace and patience.
- Therapy isn’t always easy.
Sometimes counseling sessions can be rough, and you might even feel worse afterward. However, schedule some time to relax and reflect after your sessions. Most importantly, have hope that your hard work will pay off.
- Don’t worry about shocking or offending us.
It is not your job to worry about the emotional wellbeing of your counselor. As a student, my professors are training my classmates and I to listen to our clients’ innermost thoughts. Although our clients can bring us very challenging problems, we want you to be honest when sharing your story.
- Therapy is hard work.
You might feel like you’re really making progress while having amazing 45 or 60-minute sessions with your counselor. However, you might quickly revert to your old thinking or behavioral patterns when you leave the counseling office. If this sounds familiar, this is a harsh wakeup call: Therapy will not be successful if you don’t put in the work. Counseling is similar to your physical health: You can’t expect to be super fit if you never visit the gym outside of your P.E. class. Likewise, your counselor wants to hear about your progress and whether therapy has been working for you.
- We are so proud of you.
As counselors, we feel pride whenever you schedule your next appointment or walk through the door for your weekly session. Therapy isn’t easy, and it can require a lot of dedication. For some clients, we understand that just inquiring about counseling can be a huge step. So we are proud of your willingness to make positive changes in your life.
- Have faith.
Lastly, remember verses such as Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (NIV).