Your first session at Relate NI will be used to review how we will provide the service and to explore the main issues that have brought you to counselling. This provides you and us with a starting point and together we can plan out how we will best use the counselling sessions ahead. If you come as a couple, the first session will also have an opportunity for you each to have individual time with the counsellor.
It is useful to discuss your thoughts about the counselling, because one of the most important ingredients of counselling is to get a good working relationship between you and your counsellor. It is important to look at the ups and downs of the counselling relationship, as this can reflect what may be happening in other relationships in your life. Many people come to counselling with issues around relationships, either in the past or present. In establishing a good working relationship with your counsellor you are in a much better position to play your part in attempting to solve relationship difficulties elsewhere in your life.
Your counsellor will support you in reviewing what you have learnt at points along the way. In most cases we will pause to review by the sixth session. In some cases, because of the funding package through which you are attending Relate NI you may only have four sessions, but in this instance you will be supported to plan out your sessions and review on the final session. Some of the counselling Relate NI provides requires us to incorporate some additional processes for measuring progress within your counselling sessions – your counsellor will explain this to you. In many ways this is useful for you to be able to track your progress and identify areas that may still need some work.
Part of the counselling process is simply about being heard. That, in itself, may be enough to enable you to move on. Your counsellor will endeavour to support you in this process but please remember they will not have all the answers that you may be seeking. Their role is to facilitate the process that enables you to identify changes you would like to make and for you then to take responsibility to make those changes.
Counselling takes time and can be challenging, as uncomfortable emotions and thoughts emerge as part of the process. It can provide long-lasting benefits including providing you with coping skills to help you stay grounded, and help you modify and change behaviours that have held you back.
As a result of your work with your counsellor you may develop insights into your behaviour that previously alluded you. This is usually a sign that the process is working for you. As you become more aware of your feelings and behaviours and their impact on you and on others, you will begin to understand what is important to you and feel more comfortable expressing yourself to others.
We will aim to make the best use of your time to ensure that you get the most out of your series of sessions. It is important that you also want to make the best use of time. Although it may seem that you are going to be engaged in the process for a period of time, in reality that time can pass very quickly so please help us to help you in achieving the best outcomes for your situation within the time allocated.
Remember that your attendance at counselling is completely voluntary. If at any time you feel you no longer want to engage in the process it is important that you feel you can tell us and we can work to end your engagement ethically and at a time of you choosing.
The end result of effective counselling is personal growth and self-awareness that empowers you to take control of your life and enjoy positive, life-affirming relationships with others. Our overall aim in providing counselling services is that people who participate with their counselling programme will generally be in a better place at the end of their sessions than where they were at the start.