What to Expect in Counseling

chairIndividual, marriage, or family therapy is a learning process aimed at achieving a better understanding of oneself and one’s relationships. Therapy also can lead to healthier functioning so that relationships are more meaningful and fulfilling and life more satisfying. Therapy requires much sacrifice, yet has the potential to produce invaluable rewards. I hope to facilitate an atmosphere of acceptance, warmth, and mutual respect so that the therapy setting is a safe haven to explore the person you are, your story, and your relationships. Although it may be a painful process at times, success is dependent on client honesty. Please be aware that it may be helpful in the case of individual therapy to attempt to involve the entire family or significant other.

The therapeutic process moves through several phases. Initially, time in therapy will be spent exploring the nature of the problem(s) that prompted you to seek therapy. Getting to know you, understanding how you view yourself, hearing your unique story, and examining the quality of your relationships will be my priorities in this first phase. I will listen attentively and facilitate communication with you and others involved. My hope early in therapy is to instill trust in the client/therapist relationship.

Once this foundation of trust has been established and sufficient background developed, we will proceed in creating specific goals and objectives for therapy. Collaboratively we will develop a treatment plan according to your desired goals. The treatment plan will demand strong commitment and effort to experience the desired life change. Clients will be expected to apply various skills and techniques outside of the therapy sessions. Periodic evaluations of progress will take place to determine the effectiveness of the treatment plan. When prescribing medication is applicable to treatment, clients will be referred to a local psychiatrist.

Treatment efforts will conclude when the desired goals have been achieved, the client chooses to leave, or it becomes apparent that the client should continue therapy with another therapist due to a therapeutic impasse or need for increased specialization. While client or counselor may initiate termination or referral, it is imperative that client and counselor communicate openly about the client’s progress. If termination is desired, I would like you to meet with me one time prior to making your final decision. Termination can be a constructive process, which deserves appropriate attention. Prior to the onset of therapy, clients need to obtain permission from any other therapist currently engaged or terminate with the therapist unless an alternative type of therapy is being pursued, such as a client engaged in individual therapy decides to simultaneously pursue couples therapy.

Clients must make their own decisions regarding such things as deciding to marry, separate, divorce, reconcile, and how to establish custody and visitation. My job is to assist you in considering all the possibilities and repercussions of your decisions; however, my Code of Ethics does not allow me to advise you to make a specific decision. Also be aware that if you have come to therapy to resolve marital issues, you will agree to refrain from subpoenaing me for testimony should court proceedings develop. Such an event would produce a conflict of interest for me as the counselor of a couple.

In the course of therapy, there is the potential that personal discoveries will result in emotional discomforts such as anxiety, sadness, anger, or the emergence of unpleasant memories. Although this is a natural reaction, these discoveries may also lead to difficult changes in interpersonal relationships. While I cannot foresee all potential risks, I will do my best to inform you of the risks that I anticipate throughout our work together. Please do not hesitate to discuss with me your concerns related to counseling risks.


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