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What to Expect From Counseling

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By: Karen R. Thompson, LMSW, CEAP, CAADC, EAC Clinical Specialist – If you have never been in counseling before, taking that step to reach out and start counseling can be a little scary at first. Knowing what to expect from the counseling process can be helpful.

Your very first session is an opportunity for you and the counselor to get to know each other and set goals for therapy. The first session with your counselor will likely include a comprehensive assessment.    A good counselor starts with gathering information about your history.  This typically includes your family history, medical history, work history, support network, substance use patterns, and previous counseling or mental health treatment.  The counselor will also focus the first session on learning more about your presenting issue and developing goals for counseling with you.  The counselor and the client work together in a collaborative manner to develop an understanding of the presenting issue and a treatment plan.

Counseling involves more than just venting about your stressors.   While therapy does offer a supportive context for processing current stressors, venting about your problems is not typically enough to create change.   The counselor will also provide education regarding specific coping strategies, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and resources for coping more effectively.

A cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach to treatment is the most common model in short -term counseling.   In CBT, the emphasis is on helping you become your own therapist.    The focus is on identifying unhelpful ways of thinking or behaviors that are contributing to the problem.

Most counselors work to build on your current strengths and coping skills.   The overall goal of counseling is to help gain confidence in your ability to cope effectively with life stressors on your own.

If you are ready to get started with counseling, EAC is just a phone call or email away.  Reach out for assistance.  We’re here to help!

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