In a typical counselling session, you will share what’s going on for you, and I will ask questions to generate thought and insight. Sometimes I give homework, but don’t let that scare you! It’s only meant to deepen your self-inquiry. After we have met for a counselling appointment, I will write you a letter to highlight meaningful parts of the conversation. I may ask questions for you to ponder until we meet again.
Most people will come to counselling for anywhere up to 12 sessions, and some will come for longer – it depends on your needs and desires. How often you come similarly depends on many factors. Sometimes an issue is more acute (like fresh grief or suicidal thoughts), and I will ask people to come more often. As the problem begins to resolve itself, we can stretch out our visits to once every few weeks, or once a month. Some people just want to come in for a tune up once every few months, and that’s great too.
I use many therapeutic approaches in counselling, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and mindfulness. Oftentimes people are curious about cognitive behavioural therapy in particular: I tell them that in counselling, it is like the air we breathe. It’s woven into many of my therapeutic interactions. CBT is the most researched and funded, and therefore the most well-known counselling approach. However, there is evidence to support that the therapeutic approach is less important than therapeutic rapport. In other words, if you have a good connection with your counsellor and you trust them, you are likely to get the most out of your counselling with them.
As a writer, a feminist, and a person who comes from a lineage of storytellers, however, I am particularly drawn to narrative therapy – in which we take our problematic stories and develop more empowering, hopeful narratives. This approach separates the problem from the individual, and considers it in the context of the culture in which the problem arises. Dominant cultural narratives (of race, class, gender, mental health, ability, and so forth) play significant roles in how we navigate our lives. Put simply, problems are relational and contextual rather than isolated and individual. The letter I write to you after each counselling session is a narrative counselling practice.
*For a deeper dive into how to find a counsellor who is right for you, read the blog I wrote about it.