What to Expect From Your Counselling Experience

Photo by symphony of love - http://flic.kr/p/nrhRb7

As a counselling or therapy client working online via email, you will find a safe, supportive and confidential environment in which to explore personal and life issues that matter to you.

What’s Our Working Relationship Like?

  • Imagine a relationship which is entirely focused on you, on your life, on your concerns.
  • Imagine a relationship in which you are safe to explore anything at all, without risk of being judged.
  • Imagine a relationship with someone who really listens, because they want to understand.

That is what my counselling relationships are like.

As a client, you will be listened to non-judgementally. You will find that I make every effort to understand things from your point of view. I will be honest with you, and if there is ever any doubt about my own views, or if you ever have a question about the process of counselling, you will be entirely free to ask — and you can expect an open and honest answer.

You can talk about virtually anything that is important to you, and I will respond to you with the same combination of acceptance, empathy and honesty. I cannot promise in advance that I won’t be shocked by something, but I believe it is fairly unlikely you will shock me with your experiences, feelings, thoughts or beliefs. It is altogether possible I might disagree with some particular action or view, but ordinarily this will not infringe on my acceptance of you as a person. (If I do find myself struggling with acceptance, I will share this with you.)

Above all, this is time for you: I have no special agenda, no secret wish to demonstrate anything to you, no need to prove my expertise or experience.

Will You Give Me Advice?

I believe the last thing most people need about most personal issues is advice, and the first thing they need is the opportunity to exercise their own judgement. As I describe in my Practice Philosophy, I believe human beings already have within them tremendous resources for making sense of life. However, the circumstances of real life don’t always make it easy to take advantage of these inherent resources. Part of what I offer is an environment which I believe makes it easier for people to develop their own strengths and talents, and their own judgement about what is important to them.

The upshot is that I believe it is generally more helpful to assist people in forming, clarifying, challenging and developing their own advice than to promote my point of view. No one knows better what it is like to be you than you. Having said that, I will engage actively and energetically with you, drawing upon whatever of my experience, thoughts or feelings may be appropriate — the stereotype of the dumbly nodding therapist distinctly doesn’t fit! Part of being a counsellor is continuously tracking one’s own internal responses to clients, so I will share these responses openly and honestly when they feel appropriate. Finally, I do not ordinarily refuse direct requests to elaborate on my own perspective, although in practice these requests usually arise only occasionally.

Will You Diagnose Me?

I do not make psychiatric or psychological diagnoses. Although I am familiar with many characteristics common to particular kinds of psychological distress, I regard each client as an individual — not as an example of generalized anxiety disorder or a case of manic depression. If I become aware that a possible medical or serious psychiatric disorder might merit your attention, I will discuss this with you, including the possibility of direct referral to another professional who would be qualified and willing to make a diagnosis.

Will You Keep Our Discussions Confidential?

With the exception of details I will share confidentially for the purposes of ongoing peer supervision/consultative support, my discussions with you would not normally be shared with anyone else. Please see the separate page on Privacy and Confidentiality for more details.

This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser on .

TryCounselling.com provides educational and informational content, not mental health advice. No warranty or representation, either expressed or implied, is given with respect to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for purpose of any statement or view expressed on this site.

Copyright © 2020. All Rights Reserved.