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What I have learned as a therapist: 1

A number of themes seem to surface repeatedly in my work with clients. I thought it might be useful to write about my experience of some of these repeating themes and ideas, so here is the first post in the series.

It takes courage to ask for help

Starting at the beginning, I have come to realise that most people who contact me about starting counselling have taken a hugely courageous step in order to email or text me, or to make a phone call. It's not at all easy to accept that we might need help with our mental health, and it's even more difficult to look through the thousands of therapists that are available to offer that help and to choose someone to contact.

In an earlier blog post, Choosing a therapist, I stress how important it is for you to feel a connection with your potential therapist, and a sense of safety, and this is partly the purpose of the assessment. I see the initial assessment as a two-way process – you are assessing me as much as I am assessing you. At the end of the assessment you might feel that I am not the right therapist for you, and if so, I would not hesitate to encourage you to meet with someone else. The relationship between you and and your therapist is the most important factor to keep in mind as you undertake this potentially life-changing search.

Most clients come along to the assessment with more than a little anxiety, especially if this is their first experience of counselling. I endeavour to stay mindful of this throughout the assessments, checking in with you about how you are feeling as we talk. In the second assessment, I ask specifically how it was for you to talk to me, and if you feel we can make a connection then we make a contract together and go forward from there.

So if you are thinking you might be ready to talk to someone, gather your courage and make contact – the first step in your journey to good mental health.

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