CounselingGeneral questions about Counseling
Why Should I Consider Counseling?
Counseling can be helpful for a person going through situational struggles, wanting to grow in self-awareness, people experiencing anxiety, panic, grief, loss, life transitions, relational difficulties or for those who experience persistent difficulties with their mood, such as depression. Counseling assists individuals, couples and families in assessment of surrounding problems and relational patterns and then can be helpful in moving them from the place of struggle towards a place of healing and stability.
Counseling is unique to each person who seeks help because each person presents their own histories, struggles and pain. Counseling is guided by the client with the counselor's help and input. I may offer suggestions or assist in pointing you in directions; I will help to guide you but you ultimately set the direction of your counseling.
Counseling helps us to handle and process things around us such as transitions, losses and adjustments. Counseling can also help in dealing with things such as anxiety, panic, depression, conflict, grief, and self-worth. One can grow in understanding of who they are mentally, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Counseling helps to generate and increase self-awareness while working towards the changes one desires in their life. It can also be helpful to look at one's past and things they have experienced and the effects that may have had on one's current situations or relational patterns.
What are some benefits of counseling?
Counseling offers a safe, warm and compassionate setting in which one is able to discuss their hurts, struggles and pain in order to work toward stability, healing, growth and reconciliation with others. Counseling can help one find deeper insight about self and circumstance, solutions to problems, and improved skills such as assertiveness, communication skills, and ways to handle emotions. Some things learned in counseling are discovering irrational beliefs and learning how to change them, understanding how to evaluate and change negative self-talk, identifying cause and effect relationships and learning how to respond differently, learning to examine choices and choose healthy ones, learning to set goals, and learning how to reframe negative perspectives into more healthy, rational ones.
Counseling can help to improve and deepen relationships, alter family dynamics, and ease the stresses of daily life. It is also healing and beneficial to truly feel heard and understood. Counseling can increase understanding of personal patterns of behavior and relating and assist one in changing those patterns if desired. Counseling can help in learning to better manage one's moods, anger, anxiety and depression. Therapy has also been shown to have many benefits: decreased depression, decreased anxiety and panic, resolved losses, better managed grief, increased self worth, etc. Counseling often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress, depression or anxiety.
Is counseling confidential?
Trust is very important in the counseling process. As such, counseling is a confidential and safe environment. Confidentiality exists between the counselor and the client. This means that what you say in the counseling room stays between you and your counselor. Only if you give written permission for me as your counselor to release information to an identified third party will information be disclosed.
However, there are a few exceptions to confidentiality. If any of these situations arise, I do my very best to notify you first before releasing any of your information that was disclosed in counseling.
• If there is threat or intent to harm self or others, the counselor must ensure that the client or the intended victim are safe. This may mean notifying police.
• If there is suspicion of child abuse, dependant adult or elder abuse, the counselor is mandated by law to report the suspected abuse to the proper authorities.
• If there is a subpoena for a clients records, certain records must be sent to court.
What can I expect from the first counseling session?
During an initial counseling session you will have an opportunity to get to know more about me as a counselor and more about the counseling process. You will be able to ask any questions you have about me as a counselor or about the counseling process. You will also have time to tell me about your story and about what is bringing you to counseling as well as what you benefits you'd like from counseling. We will explore both your expectations and the things you want to gain from counseling and set some initial counseling goals.
The first session is an initial opportunity for you to get to know me as a therapist and determine whether you think you want to continue counseling with me. The fit with the counselor is an important piece of the counseling process. It will be important for you to feel as though you can trust your counselor and be honest, open and vulnerable with them in order for you to derive significant benefits from counseling. I can answer questions you have and we can begin to explore the problems, situations and feelings bringing you to counseling. If you do not want to continue counseling with me but desire to have counseling, I can offer you referrals to other counselors in the area.
Is there a difference in counseling and therapy?
From my standpoint, no there is not! I use the two terms interchangeably. If you have further questions or comments about this, please let me know!
What is Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy?
Marriage counseling and couples therapy help couples understand and resolve conflicts as well as strengthen their relationship. It gives couples tools to communicate better, negotiate differences, problem solve and disagree appropriately. Counseling can help resolve trust issues caused by betrayal, infidelity, lying or unfaithfulness. Counseling can also bring you to a place of deeper understanding of yourselves and each other. You can learn tools to deal with emotions in better ways and how to communicate about your feelings openly and positively. Licensed therapists generally provide Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy. Counseling can be short term or you may need counseling for a longer term, particularly if your relationship has greatly weakened due to years of poor communication or betrayal. You typically see a marriage counselor once a week but once you meet with a counselor you can determine how often is best based on the presenting problems and your desire for counseling. Pre-marital therapy is counseling that can help couples who are planning to get married. It helps couples learn about their relationship, their communication, strengths and weaknesses. Pre-marital counseling can help couples strengthen the foundation of their relationship so that their marriage is fortified against future strain and stress.
Why should I consider Couples Therapy or Marriage Counseling?
Counseling is a valuable opportunity for those desiring a deep, healthy and life long relationship. With divorce rates on the rise and with many couples living dissatisfied, time with a counselor can be the needed step for improving the relationship, forming a deeper connection within the relationship, and resolving issues that are causing conflict. Difficulty in relationship often leads individuals to experience feelings of dissatisfaction in their lives, stress, anxiety and even depression. Why continue living that way when there is help and hope? Counseling can help to identify not only surface issues but also deeper roots of problems and then in counseling you can take steps to resolve those very difficulties! your relationship has the opportunity to experience change and positive progress through counseling. There is no guarantee of what you'll experience as you take the step of counseling; it may not get better right away and it may take quite a bit of work, but wouldn't you rather give it a try than stay in the difficult place you are now? Couples who are planning to get married would be wise to consider Pre-marital counseling. Pre-marital therapy can assist them in learning more about their relationship and ensuring it is as healthy as possible before they enter into marriage. This solves problems before they even have a chance to start or fester!
Who can benefit from Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy?
Marriage Counseling and Couples Therapy can help couples whose relationships are strained, in conflict or on the brink of separation. No matter the cause, stress in a relationship can create strong tension, sadness, worry, fear and other problems for individuals. If you are experiencing feelings of worry, stress, sadness, guilt, depression or fear due to issues in your relationship, counseling can benefit you! If you are concerned about your relationship and know it has been at a better place than it is right now, counseling can be of help. If you desire a deeper connection and healthier communication in your marriage or relationship, counseling can assist with that! Also, your relationship doesn’t have to be in trouble to seek therapy; it can help couples who desire to strengthen their connection and gain a better understanding of each other. Think of your car; do you just take it to the mechanic when it's broken down or making awful noises? Hopefully most of us take our cars regularly for oil changes whether they need it or not. I'm no car fanatic but I know to take it in every 3,000 miles (or so) for an oil change. What is wrong with treating our relationships the same way? We all could stand for a tune-up every now and then. Pre-marital Therapy can help couples that plan to get married achieve a deeper relationship and iron out differences before the marriage
What are benefits of Marriage Therapy or Couples Counseling?
Many relationships simply need tools for healthy communication and skills for managing stress in healthy ways. Counseling can teach couples these needed tools and skills. Counseling can also help to resolve crises that have occurred and impacted the relationship, help couples deal with adjustments or transitions that have occurred, and resolve habitual arguing or dysfunctional dynamics that exist within the relationship. Counseling can help heal painful wounds in the relationship as a result of lies, infidelity, unfaithfulness or betrayal. Often times couples have become disconnected whether due to increased work demands, children, or just years together and need help finding their way back to connectedness and closeness. Counseling can assist in the process of reconnection. Counseling can also benefit each individual as well in many positive ways: decreased stress, tension, anxiety, worry and depression. When difficulties in the relationship decrease, often the individuals experience significant relief as well! Counseling can also help to uncover negative, destructive patterns in your relationship and point you in a more positive direction. This helps the relational foundation become stronger and more able to weather the storms of life.
How does Couples Counseling or Marriage Therapy work?
This type of counseling usually consists of couples in a joint therapy setting; both partners are present during the counseling sessions. Counseling helps spouses communicate their thoughts, feelings and perspectives in a neutral setting with a therapist who helps guide, teach and redirect. Counselors can help individuals learn to communicate deeply and effectively with their spouse and identify and address the root cause(s) of the problem(s). Counseling helps couples pinpoint and understand the sources of their conflicts and learn ways to resolve them. The counselor will help couples identify reasons for being in therapy and goals they have for their relationship. Counseling will then help the couple navigate through skill building, conflict resolution and healthy communication. Often a counselor will incorporate some individual therapy for each member of the relationship as an adjunct to Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy. Though this is based on the preference and need of the couple as well as on the recommendation of the counselor.
What might Couple's Therapy or Marriage Counseling be like?
Marriage counseling can be a number of experiences to different people: powerful, stressful, enlightening, emotional, insightful, connecting, upsetting, etc. It’s what you do with the experience that can be very powerful for you as an individual and as part of the relationship; you can choose to grow, change, and heal the hurts. It’s not always easy to talk about the difficult issues in your relationship with a counselor. Some sessions may evoke strong negative feelings, some may involve silence; there may even be a fight during a session. However, counseling will help to mediate the situations and also help you to cope with what you are feeling during the session. Counselors often share with clients that things often get worse before they get better in counseling. Counseling will bring up hurt, pain and problems in relationships and dealing with those emotions and issues can be difficult and painful. Yet on the other side of that pain is healing and reconciliation. Once you have walked through those difficult emotions and issues in counseling, you will find that you experience positive connection and decreased stress! Many individuals end up quitting counseling when it feels bad. But know, it will get better; counseling will not always be difficult and painful. There is great hope on the other end; it just involves a journey to get there. Yet that counseling journey is often what makes individuals and relationships much stronger and better able to weather future storms!
How can I get the most out of Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy?
• Admit that a problem exists. How do you each define the problem? Take time to understand what the problem is and how it impacts you and the relationship. What are examples? How does it feel? If each person comes to counseling acknowledging, not denying the problem, then counseling will likely progress quicker.
• Recognize that you might be contributing to the problem. A relationship is a system; both parts (each individual) of the system impact and relate to each other. Rarely is one person completely responsible for all of the problems that exist in the relationship. Owning your part in the problem will put your relationship in a better place as you start into the counseling process!
• Be willing to consider making some behavioral changes, or taking some action steps. Having willingness to make changes in the way you act will take your relationship towards further progress during counseling.
• Be careful of expectations you have of your therapist. If you are looking to your counselor to “fix” the problem, know that they cannot perform magic in your marriage! A counselor will guide, explore and help to increase awareness of the issues and triggers in the marriage but they have no magic wand! The counselor will teach you new skills and tools to use in your relationship, but you are responsible for implementing them.
• Be patient! Counseling will take time to assess the problem and begin working towards your goals. How long counseling lasts depends on how long the problem has existed, individuals’ willingness to change, and the nature of the problems. The time in counseling is well worth it though; it's a life long investment!
Is it possible to come to Marriage Counseling or Couples Therapy alone?
Yes, you can go to counseling by yourself! Sometimes taking that first step to get help in counseling can be the catalyst for your spouse to acknowledge the problem and desire change themselves. When one person begins to change their behaviors, attitudes, and reactions in the relationship, the other individual will notice (eventually)! You can work to make the necessary changes within yourself and learn how to cope within your relationship through the counseling process. You can benefit by learning in counseling more about yourself, your reactions and your behavior in the relationship. You may also find that through counseling you feel less stress, sadness, anxiety and tension and are able to respond in more positive, healthy ways to the actions of others.
What is Family Counseling?
Family Counseling helps families understand and improve upon the way they are communicating and relating with each other. Counseling also helps to work out disagreements and resolve problems caused by differences of perspective or opinion. Family Counseling is usually provided by Licensed Counselors and can help families discover and work through the problems that exist in the family. Counseling can also help heal family conflicts and strained relationships. Illness, crises, divorce, death and other circumstances can cause stress and tension within families; counseling helps to alleviate these stresses and work towards healing and healthy relationships. Counseling can help individuals learn to hear each other more clearly and learn to speak to one another in ways that are understood; communication is often a central focus in family counseling. Family Counseling typically involves family members who live in the same household. However, it can just involve only a few of the family members or bring in other members not living in the home or significant people that impact the family who do not live in the home..
Why should I consider Family Therapy?
Family Counseling can often be more beneficial than individual therapy for children and teenagers and their parents. Family Counseling allows relationships to heal and family members to come to a deeper understanding and acceptance of differences that exist between them. Through counseling, there is often a restored sense of peace within the home. Counseling attempts to help the family work together in healthy ways to solve their problems, grieve losses, and communicate better. Family Counseling can help with issues caused from marital conflict, divorce, depression, grief, loss, stress, and family conflict. Parents can learn needed skills through family counseling as well. Counseling can equip your family to withstand conflict and resolve it in healthy, constructive ways. Counseling can also help your family learn to weather stress and loss in positive ways while maintaining a deeper, connected relationship. Counseling can help to mend wounds within the family, increase coping skills, and improve communication within the family. Family relationships often see great improvement through the counseling process. Families are also often better able to withstand stress, conflict, loss and difficulty after they have learned skills in family counseling.
How does Family Counseling work?
Family Therapy may be short term if the issues are minor. Families typically attend weekly counseling sessions unless they prefer to attend less often. The frequency of counseling is often determined early on in your meeting with a family counselor. Sometimes more long term counseling is needed due to the nature of the problems and how long they have been present within the family. During the counseling sessions the family will often be together for counseling. There may be some counseling sessions where certain family members meet with the counselor alone or just with one other family member. During counseling, the therapist will work to evaluate how the family cooperates together and how they express their thoughts and feelings to one another. Counseling also helps families to discover and evaluate roles in the family, family rules and patterns of relating to one another. Doing this can help uncover and resolve sources of conflict within the family. Counseling also assists families in understanding and maximizing their strengths. Counseling can help to address specific concerns or conflicts within the family and reflect upon how well issues are being handled and conflict is being resolved. Through counseling, families learn healthier ways to relate, interact and communicate; they learn to better solve problems together and resolve old conflicts and wounds. A great deal of healing and reconnection can occur through family counseling.
Marriage Counseling & Couples TherapyQuestions about Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
Family TherapyQuestions about Family Counseling
Some of this material came from the following sources: Articles by L. Kift, T. Taylor, Mayo Clinic staff & other Mayo Clinic staff.