Naina, a 24-year-old lawyer, has been in therapy for two months, she usually comes in once a week on a Saturday at 2pm. She is what Harvard Business Review would describe as an overachiever, always doing more, and wanting more; enough is never enough for her. Naina is just one of the many young adults who is struggling with their sense of self, exhausting workload, and a pressure to always be on. This is Naina’s first time in therapy, while we spoke over the phone for her first appointment she asked me a few relevant questions about counselling. These questions are reflective of a lot of concerns many young adults have about counselling. Here are a few of the pertinent questions and my responses to her questions…
Therapy also known as individual counselling is one to one counselling with your psychologist, a qualified mental health practitioner. In these sessions your psychologist aims to create a safe space for you to express your thoughts and feelings. These sessions are confidential and will not be discussed with anyone without your consent. During the first few sessions, the psychologist works on building a healthy and comfortable rapport with you. Your psychologist’s aim is to create a non-judgemental environment with positive regard for your emotions. In your one to one counselling sessions there is no fixed structure, you can express whatever thoughts or emotions come in your mind. Your psychologist is equipped with the skill set to empathise with your emotions and assimilate your thoughts to provide the clarity and awareness you need.
Why are there goals in therapy and who sets them?
In one to one counselling or relationship counselling it is important for you to identify what you would like to achieve out of your interaction with your psychologist. This is often a reflection of your challenges and desires. It is important to set these goals as it gives you and your psychologist direction for therapy; it is also a great way to measure progress. While some individuals come into therapy with a clear understanding of what they want, most do not. Usually after their first or second session with their psychologist are they able to gain some clarity and thus set goals with their therapist. It is important to discuss this with your therapist, this will help you identify realistic goals that are in line with your vision for yourself.
What are the benefits of one to one counselling?
Counselling aids in creating healthy coping skills strengthens ones adaptive thoughts and aids in maintaining emotional stability. Research states that actively seeking counselling is likely to result in fewer relapses of common conditions like anxiety and depression. This further strengthens a healthy perception of oneself and ones cognitive flexibility. This in turn leads to better quality of life. The advantages of individual counselling are that you have your own safe space to express your thoughts and emotions, in a carefree manner and in a non-judgemental environment. This strengthens one’s ability to assimilate their own thoughts, apply rational thinking, and above all become more self-aware. The ability to express and process without judgement is a genuinely cathartic experience and fosters self-acceptance.
What if I don’t like my psychologist?
It is important to note that your psychologist must speak your language (they must get your vibe). Rapport building is crucial in therapy, and it is important for you to feel your psychologist understands you, your thoughts and emotions, and where you would like to go. If you do not feel that, you must express it with your therapist or find someone that does! Beginning the cathartic journey to self-acceptance can be a long one, and it is important that your co-passenger is someone you feel understood by.
In counselling, your psychologist does not guide or advise you but are co-passengers on your journey to self-discovery and self-acceptance. As co-passengers on your journey, your psychologist will equip you with tools that you can add to your skill set that will ensure more clarity, better decisions, and emotional stability. This facilitates greater self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Also, Naina is currently finding her journey in therapy a fruitful one with a lot of “a-ha moments” that have helped her bring about the change she desires!