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January 27, 2009

During counselling today, we ended up discussing what I thought to be some interesting points; one was the role of the counsellor: do I guide the session, or does she?

One of my past counsellors was very focus driven, she’d sort of guide the topic and push for things to be spoken about; the other asked me what I wanted to talk about and this one wants me to do it off my own back. She asked why I hadn’t brought anything up in the silences and talked about ‘my big three’ that we discussed last week, and I said that I was kind of used to the counsellor bringing it up and guiding the session. She seemed quite taken aback, and I said I was unsure of how to bring it up, so we discussed that. The problem with counselling is that it is so subjective: there is no concrete way to do and we didn’t really come to a conclusion. I think part of the thing is that we discuss things, and for me they are a base, which I then go off and think about myself. I find that the 50 minutes is enough to get me started, and then I continue with that ‘exploration’ if you will. On the way home, I’ve made my mind up: to introduce the topic myself, I’m going to do it at the start so during the “how was your week?” question. I find it strange that I won’t be prodded, and I know she won’t: she’s like me and is polite, but I can’t help but feel that she is going to need to prod me a little more deeply than letting me try and gloss over some of the worst stuff. Maybe I’ve got the ‘definition’ of what a counsellors role is wrong, but again, it’s subjective and what I’m used to! If I want to get as much as possible out of it, then I need to do this. Not doing this could mean 24 weeks go by and not much really changing. I want it to though, and I’m in a good enough state of mind to hopefully remember this for next week and to challenge my emotional supression. I discussed this with my old counsellor, and we both agreed that it does need to be explored, and I can’t help but feel that this is partly behind the relationship issue: I don’t let myself feel, I try to quash feelings, and quashing feelings of love is not a good thing!

I’m feeling positive, I hope it lasts.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2009 11:18 am

    It seems to me that discussing the nature of counselling itself was a waste of one of your 24 sessions. Counselling is what it is. This counselling seems to be evading the things that made you want to have counselling in the first place.

    I drew a deep breath when you wrote, “okay I’ve had better rapports with some other people, but there’s time to build the relationship,” hoping that it would work out better than that. It doesn’t seem to be.

    “How was your week?” is a terrible way to start a session, diverting attention away from what’s really on your mind right here and right now to everyday things in the recent past that the counsellor finds more comfortable to talk about. This is her emotional suppression at work.

    You’re wrong. There is a concrete way to do counselling, and that’s not it.

    You’re absolutely right, though, in making up your mind to direct each session from the very start. These sessions belong to you — they’re for you, to take them wherever you want them to go.

  2. January 28, 2009 1:17 pm

    Counselling is weird. I think every experience is different and I think you have to find out what works for you. Think about where you want to start. Think about what you want to cover. Try and go there next week with that in mind and the conviction to carry it through no matter what the counsellor is like with you. I hope it works out xx

  3. January 28, 2009 1:32 pm

    CBTish: I don’t mind dicussing crap (because really, that’s all it is; totally unrelated to why I am there) but I think I do have to keep in mind the fact that if it continues, I could emerge in a state of well, that was a waste of time then! I think part of the problem is we’re too alike: neither of us like prodding… but the thing is, she’s the counsellor; it’s her job to, no matter whether she thinks it is or not! It seems like she’s not too confident, and well, how’s that going to work?!

    Funny you should say that about the “how was your week?” question: everyone I’ve ever seen has used it as a base; what should she be asking?!

    I am going to try and take control though, not something I’m used to!

    What would you say IS good counselling?

    ITS: I will do! She’s friendly enough, and would but not exactly great at either making conversation in silence or being perceptive (dare I say it like my old one was… she could tell by glancing at me how I was, and how my week had been…)


  4. January 28, 2009 3:29 pm

    When I was a counsellor there was often no agenda, and I used to say, “What would you like to talk to me about?”

    When there’s an obvious agenda after several sessions, and a strong sense of working together on something, I’ll try to connect with the previous week’s conversation. Obviously this means reading my notes beforehand and getting back into my own feelings about this person and where things are, and obviously it depends on what the previous conversation actually was, but an example opening line might be, “How did it go?”

    Sometimes it’s obvious the person is too upset to have that kind of conversation, so I’ll stay in the here-and-now: “What’s happened?”

    As a therapist there’s always an agenda — a diagnosis, or a referral letter, or an e-mail saying what the problem is. So in a first session I’ll refer to that explicitly before handing it back. For example: “In your e-mail you said you have panics…what happens?”

    I just can’t imagine any circumstances in which I would say, “How was your week?” but maybe that’s just me. :/

    I do know that if counselling is done right there’s never any need for prodding. Yes, it does sound as if you are alike. Perhaps by letting her know that you understand you are alike you can get beyond the crap and the prodding.

    I don’t know what to say good counselling is. It’s whatever gets beyond crap and prodding.

  5. January 28, 2009 4:44 pm

    In answer to your question, perhaps my old counsellor. Yes, I need to stop this, stop talking about her and forget that and move on; I just hate how I had to move away and how I know she was helping.

    Do you make notes during your sessions? I seem to remember my old one did, but this one doesn’t. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know.

    I have to ask at this point whether you happen to be my old counsellor, seeing as you seem way way too alike in what you would do!

    About the referral kind of thing, I think it was pretty obvious that it either hadn’t been read or she didn’t know what it was talking about. She hadn’t heard of citalopram before, doesn’t seem to understand what depresssion is. She said that the times when I lose control of myself are quite strange when normally I’m a ‘practical’ person, but hello; that’s why I’m there. I don’t know whether the issue is to do with that it being a young people’s place, they deal with something else normally. On the ‘what are your issues?’ sheet, it asked about sexual frustration more than mood, all teenagery sort of stuff, and yes, although I’m a teenager, I’m not 13 years old and worried because a boy likes me. I think I’m going to give it more goes, but the worry is: what after this?


  6. January 28, 2009 5:30 pm

    The beginning of a therapy “relationship”- if thats even what you call it, it seems today that I have lost words from my brain. Its always interesting. I am sure when you get to know her better and she has a better grasp about your problems will be easier. Hannah X

  7. January 28, 2009 8:25 pm

    No, I am not your old counsellor! I make notes immediately after a session. Yes, give it more goes, but what’s the point in worrying about the what after? Cross that bridge when you come to it.

  8. January 28, 2009 11:36 pm

    Thanks Hannah

    CBTish: I think I try to plan ahead too much!

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