Structure of Counseling
What to expect
It can be difficult to know what to expect from therapy, especially around the commitment and expectations. To help you get a better idea of the process, your therapist will do an initial intake, which will be where you get the opportunity to talk about your personal challenges and needs and to see if the type of therapy that is offered will work for you.
The therapist will then discuss the number of sessions that would be considered optimal to assist with the condition that you are dealing with. Typically this will be approximately 10-20 sessions. The reason for deciding an approximate number is to provide an end target and to keep you goal orientated during your time in therapy. It also assists in providing a baseline to measure improvement. Normally, there may be some follow up sessions that come after the end of the cycle, around once a month to once every two months to monitor the stability of your gains.
These sessions will be focused on achieving the goals that have been set by the client. It will be important to be specific, and the therapist will work with you on creating goals that qualify as being focused enough and also achievable in the time that has been set for the therapy. Once those goals are set, you will work with the therapist on how to best achieve them. This will involve monitoring progress through questionnaires, doing short homework exercises at home to help build recognition of negative automatic thought patterns that are influencing your behaviors and experiments that will be designed to help disprove your assumptions.
As we come towards the end of your therapy, you will then fill in a therapy blueprint, which will help guide you through the process that has taken place and what you will do if you begin to relapse.
Therapy will also be structured, with a clear agenda for the session. Typically an agenda will look something like this:
Discussion of home work
Review of outcome measures
Pre-planned agenda items
Non-pre-planned agenda items
Finally, it is important that you attempt homework that is set in each session. The homework will always be short and achievable, normally no more than 15-20 minutes. This is going to be the core of how you move ahead.