What is Counseling?
Personal counseling is a chance to talk over issues that are important to you with an objective person who has professional training in helping people work through current situations and learn about dealing with similar situations in the future. Some of the problems that people discuss with counselors include relationship problems, academic/school related problems, depression, anxiety, trauma, and issues from the past that negatively affect the person's daily functioning.
Most people go to counseling because they want help with specific problems. Many have talked to friends and family about these problems but are unable to improve things adequately on their own. Counseling provides a safe place in which to talk about issues and generate some useful solutions.
When you come for counseling you can expect to meet with an individual who has been through years of training designed to assist people with personal and social concerns. You can expect your counselor to listen to your experiences and ask you pertinent questions about your life. Your counselor will probably ask you some questions about your background, including your family, atypical experiences, and your relationships with others. The counselor will also ask what you hope to get out of counseling or what your goals are.
Many people come to counseling once per week for several weeks to work on their concerns while others come in just once and others come in periodically. During these meetings clients talk about their issues with the counselor. Sometimes the counselor may assign psychological "homework" as one method for the client to make progress outside of the meetings. Sometimes your counselor may not be the best source of help for you and will help you in finding more appropriate assistance.
Counselors are individuals, so their style will vary however there are some things that you can expect from every counselor.
- Your counselor will display respect for you and convey this respect by keeping appointments as scheduled, by contacting you if scheduling changes are necessary, and by giving her/his complete attention to you during counseling sessions.
- At any point during counseling, you are encouraged to ask questions regarding your counselor's qualifications, training, experience, specialization areas and limitations. You will receive thoughtful and respectful answers.
- Within the limits of published ethical standards and the law, information you reveal to your counselor will be maintained as confidential and will not be communicated to another person or agency without your permission. The rare legal limits to confidentiality will be clearly described at your initial session. You may, if you wish, discuss any aspect of your counseling with others.
- Your counselor is a licensed professional and adheres to all laws and codes of ethics applicable to her/his license[s] and certifications.
Adapted from "Counseling and Psychotherapy", the University of Cincinnati