MY AIMS IN COUNSELLING
My aim is to help clients identify their strengths - strengths they may have used in the past to overcome crises.
I will support them to build on those strengths, to be resilient and find hope for their future.
I will support you to identify and work toward achieving your goals. I will listen, clarify what I have heard, validate your issues, be understanding and not judge. I have not walked in your shoes, but I may have had similar life experiences. At times I will challenge you.
I have no magic or silver bullet answers. I hesitate before giving advice and any advice would be very general. You the client, are the expert of your own life and it is you who will be living with the outcomes of your decision – so I would hate to be giving advice which is not right for you. I am with you for a short time, to support you on your journey.
With regard to relationship counselling, I see couples together, but I also suggest that each partner come to me for individual counselling. I remain neutral. I have a moral compass and values – which I do not to force onto others. However, during counselling sessions, it may become obvious to clients what my values are. There may be times when not expressing my values, would be a disservice to the client.
With adolescents between 12 and 16, I like their parents or carers to come for the first session where possible. What is shared within sessions, is confidential and not shared with others outside the counselling room – unless the client is in danger of harming themselves or somebody else.
In the future I will be providing Family therapy sessions where the whole family can have a round table discussion. With each family member being able to share and feel listened to, and conflict addressed, the family can hopefully move forward. I can also provide group sessions such as in the workplace where there is a common issue impacting people, and psychoeducation workshops – usually based on a mental health issue which people have a common interest in.
Group sessions are not for everybody but can be spaces where people feel less vulnerable and less exposed. Others may ask the questions you are too afraid to ask, and you may also realise that others have experienced the same problems you have. Ground rules, boundaries and confidentiality apply.
I use aspects of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET).
Overcoming unwanted or non-preferred behaviour
I focus not on the form of that behaviour but the function. I support clients to look at ‘why?’ they are doing what they are doing (i.e. look at the root cause).
I just know something is wrong
Some clients come to counselling not being able to pin-point the issues in their lives. They just know something is wrong but don’t know where to start. Often people know what they don’t want in their lives, they just don’t know what they do want. The key is to help them know what they would like their lives to be like – to have goals.
I don't want to go to Counselling
Some clients come because they have to. They may come because of a court order and if they come, they may get a reduced sentence. They may come due to pressure from their spouse/partner, parents or school but they really don’t want to be there. That needs to be acknowledged, and since they are coming, what would they like to get out of it/is there anything they could get out of it?
The Differences: Social Workers, Psychologists & Counsellors
There are commonalities between social workers, psychologists and counsellors in their understanding of mental health and the way they work with clients. All three occupations offer counselling to some degree. Social workers will have a focus on social service needs and case management. Psychologists are more involved in testing and assessment. The Counsellor’s work is based on developing a therapeutic relationship.
How I work
For myself as a counsellor, I do some testing to assess for anxiety, depression and PTSD (Hopkins and Harvard Questionnaires) but I do not diagnose. I present my findings as symptoms and my counselling addresses the cause of the symptoms. If I am not able to identify the cause and address the symptoms, I will refer. If I perceive the client to have severe mental illness and the client has not had a psychiatric assessment and is not on medication (based on my experience as a nurse), I will speak to their GP and request referral to a psychiatrist. There is only one psychiatrist in Wagga so the GP may refer the client to a psychologist on a mental health treatment plan.
For me, the key to successful counselling is developing a therapeutic relationship with the client. A good counsellor is compassionate, empathetic and understanding. They listen to the client, validate the client’s experiences and clarify their issues. A good counsellor will generally not give advice but will guide the client to find answers or come to some form of acceptance.