The first meeting is very important. The initial consultation is an opportunity for us to get a feeling about whether we can work together. You can decide if you like me, trust me, and think my approach would be helpful for you. I can decide if I think I could be helpful in addressing the issues that you are struggling with. Therapy is a collaborative undertaking that is based on respect, openness, and a non-judgmental stance.
Life experience–both mine and my client’s–are very important to consider in the context of the counseling relationship. We’ve both learned a lot through living and our lives haven’t followed any set pattern so I don’t make assumptions about who my client is. I greet each client as an individual with issues specific to him or her and we work from that perspective. Your therapy is about you and what you need to accomplish, not what I think you should be doing.
The process of therapy is sometimes painful as we bring up issues from the past that you’ve been trying not to think about. I try very hard to make sure that you feel safe and accepted as you share those things you’ve tried so hard not to feel. We can explore fear, shame, and other emotions that hinder you. As you find that you can look at what you’re feeling and process those feelings, you’ll realize how much harm has been done by keeping them bottled up.
Clients know when they’re done with therapy. I don’t set a time limit but I do encourage weekly participation in therapy, at least for the first few months. This helps speed processing. There will come a time that we agree that you’ve done what you can do or set out to do and it’s time to quit or take a break. My clients are always welcome to come back when they feel they could benefit from further aid in improving their lives.