How counselling and therapy work


Types of therapy and therapists


There are so many types of therapies and therapists; it might feel a little overwhelming to get started. Just remember that no one type of therapy is best, any more than any style of car is best. It all depends on your individual preferences and needs.

It is true that certain techniques are more useful than others in dealing with specific types of problems (phobias, for example). But in general, research about the “best” type of therapy always reaches the same conclusion: the philosophy behind the therapy is much less important than the relationship between you and your therapist.

If you feel comfortable and trusting in that relationship, the model of therapy, like your car, is just the vehicle that will help you move ahead to lead a more fulfilling life, regardless of the circumstances that brought you to therapy

Common types of therapy


Most therapists don’t limit themselves to one specific type of therapy, instead blending different types in order to best fit the situation at hand. This can offer many powerful tools for the therapist to use. However, therapists often have a general orientation that guides them.

  • Individual therapy. Individual therapy explores negative thoughts and feelings, as well as the harmful….
  • Couples therapy (relationship counselling). Couples therapy involves the two people in a committed relationship. People go….
  • Family therapy. Family therapy involves treating more than one member of the family at the same time to help the….
  • Group therapy. Group therapy is facilitated by a professional therapist, and involves a group of peers working….
  • Trauma Counselling. Trauma Counselling helps you to identify and come to terms with feelings and emotions you….

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How long does it take for therapy to help?

Most people find some benefit from therapy after just a few sessions and many people feel some relief in the first session. For example, anxiety is relieved because therapy brings with it some hope and a better understanding of how things may change. The therapist may offer explanation or insight in that very first session that the client has been unable to understand on their own. However, for some people it takes longer to experience any benefits. So, it’s important to give some time to the therapy process.

Specific problems can often be resolved in a relatively brief number of sessions – even as few as two or three. But even if the problem isn’t resolved immediately, many people feel confident within a few sessions that changes have been made and they are making progress.

In some cases, the course of therapy will be longer. For example, people with very severe trauma histories can take a long time to feel the trust necessary to move forward with the painful work of dealing with their trauma and the problems it has….

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What you can expect in counselling and therapy?

Every therapist is different, but there are usually some similarities to how therapy is structured. Normally, sessions will last about an hour, and often be about once a week, although more intensive therapy sessions maybe more frequent.

  • Expect a good fit between you and your therapist Don’t settle for bad fit. You may need….
  • Therapy is a partnership. Both you and your therapist contribute to the….
  • Therapy will not always feel pleasant. Painful memories, frustrations or feelings might….
  • Therapy should be a safe place. While there will be times when you’ll feel challenged or….

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Making the most of counselling and therapy

To make the most of therapy, you need to put what you’re learning in your sessions into practice in your real life. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your therapy:

  • Make healthy lifestyle changes There are many things you can do in your daily life to support your mood and improve your emotional health. Reach out to others for support. Get plenty of exercise and sleep. Eat well. Make time for relaxation and play, to name a few.
  • Don’t expect the therapist to tell you what to do. You and your therapists are partners in your recovery. Your therapist can help guide you and make suggestions for treatment, but only you can make the changes you need to move forward.
  • Make a commitment to your treatment. Don’t skip sessions unless you absolutely have to. If your therapist gives you homework in between sessions, be sure to do it. If you find yourself skipping sessions or are reluctant to go, ask yourself why. Are you avoiding painful discussion? Did last session touch a nerve? Talk about your reluctance with your therapist.
  • Share what you are feeling. You will get the most out of therapy if you are open and honest with your therapist about your feelings. If you feel embarrassed or ashamed, or something is too painful to talk about, don’t be afraid to tell your therapist. Slowly, you can work together to get at the issues



Is therapy working?

You should be able to tell within a session or two whether you and your therapist are a good fit. But sometimes, you may like your therapist but feel like you aren’t making progress. It’s important to evaluate your progress to make sure you’re getting what you need from therapy.

A word of caution: There is no smooth, fast road to recovery. It’s a process that’s full of twists, turns, and the occasional backtrack. Sometimes, what originally seemed like a straightforward problem turns into a more complicated issue. Be patient and don’t get discouraged over temporary setbacks. It’s not easy to break old, entrenched patterns.

Remember that growth is difficult, and you won’t be a new person overnight. But you should notice positive changes in your life. Your overall mood might be improving, for example. You may feel more connected to family and friends. Or a crisis that might have overwhelmed you in the past doesn’t throw you as much this time.

Tips for evaluating your progress in therapy

  • Is your life changing for the better? Look at different parts of your life: work, home, your social life.
  • Are you meeting the goals you and your therapist have set?
  • Is therapy challenging you? Is it stretching you beyond your comfort zone?
  • Do you feel like you’re starting to understand yourself better?
  • Do you feel more confident and empowered?
  • Are your relationships improving?

Your therapist should work with you, re-evaluating your goals and progress as necessary. However, remember that therapy isn’t a competition. You are not a failure if you don’t meet your goals in the number of sessions you originally planned. Focus instead on overall progress and what you’ve learned along the way.

When to stop counselling or therapy

When to stop therapy depends on you and your individual situation. Ideally, you will stop therapy when you and your therapist have decided that you have met your goals.

However, you may feel at some point that you have got what you need out of therapy, even if your therapist feels differently