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Accessing Counselling Support

Deciding to start counselling is a brave thing to do. We are excited about this step that you are taking and pray that you will be blessed on this journey. As you may already know, there is a lot of different counselling approaches and a lot of choices to make as you take these steps to start making sense of what is going on for you. We have listed some of these things below to help you in making wise decisions about the counselling you are accessing as well as ways to make the most of the whole journey.

The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Proverbs 20:5

Choose Carefully

Before you begin, think carefully about what it is that you would like from your counsellor. Together you will be talking about some of the hard, messy and painful parts of your life. Going to someone just because they are the closest to you might not always be the best choice. Some of the things that you might want to think about are:

 

What is it that you want counselling for?

Counsellors will have different areas of specialty and experience. It might be that the reasons that you are wanting counselling are specific or less common and it would be beneficial for you to find a counsellor with experience. Some specialties include grief, marriage, trauma, children and adolescents, abuse or addiction.

It is also important to ask if you are ready to talk about what is going on. Just because something is wrong or there is an issue that you would benefit from having counselling for, that doesn’t always mean that you are ready to talk about those things or that you are able to do the work that is necessary.

 

What is the theological background of this counsellor?

A person’s theology shapes the way that they see the world and a counsellor’s theology will influence the way that they help you to make sense of the challenges you face. It is important to consider the theological or denominational background of a Christian counsellor as their beliefs may not line up with yours.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

James 3:17

If the counsellor is not a Christian, it may be that the support they provide remains limited to surface-level tips and strategies, something that you may find beneficial for a short time. If you do choose this type of support it is important to have faith-based support through a mentor, family, friends and your office bearers.
** Sometimes this is necessary because of their speciality.

All the counsellors that Trellis recommends are those who have a strong understanding of Reformed Theology. If you would like a recommendation, please get in touch via our contact form.

 

Would you prefer a male or female counsellor?

This preference can have reasons or it is just what you are comfortable with. Try to seek out a counsellor of your preferred gender.

 

Review

Just because you have chosen a counsellor and gone to see them for a session or two, it doesn’t mean that you have to stick with them. Sometimes you find out some more about them or their approach to counselling that doesn’t work for you, other times things don’t really work out just because not everyone works together. It is important to remember that it is okay to try with someone else, and just because counselling doesn’t work with one person doesn’t mean it isn’t for you.

Be Intentional

Counselling is much more than showing up to your sessions each week. The time spent in counselling is to pay attention to, reflect on and make changes to different things that are happening in your life. Some of the things to pay attention to as you do this are:

 

What is it that you would like to get out of counselling?

Do you have goals or intentions for your time in counselling? You might not have specific goals or need some support figuring these out but it is always helpful to come into counselling knowing what it is that you want to work on. Knowing this means that you will be able to look back and track the changes and progress that you have been making in counselling.

Knowing what your goals are for counselling can also be helpful in becoming more intentional about opening up to your counsellor. Vulnerability and honesty are not always easy and it will take time to build trust with your counsellor so that you can share some of the heavier parts of your life. As you feel safe to be vulnerable, intentionally share your thoughts and feelings. The more that you share with your counsellor the better they will be able to help you.

 

What homework or projects do you have to do outside of your sessions?

Your counsellor may give you something to work on, sometimes even a project to do in between sessions so that you can grow in paying attention to and addressing the reason that you are accessing counselling. There will be different things that they may ask you to do so that the things that you talk about move from the counselling office and into some of your every day moments.

It may also be helpful to find ways that help you to pay attention to some of the things throughout your week that you would like to work on with your therapist. Something like taking notes or recording questions or observations you might have across the week will also be helpful in setting purpose to your counselling sessions.

 

What does your day look like when you have a counselling session?

It is helpful to plan your day carefully around your counselling sessions. Give yourself space before your session so that you can mentally and emotionally prepare yourself and try not to have too many things happen afterwards as you might find yourself drained from the intensity of what it is that you are busy with.

 

Review

Check in every now and then and see how you are going with the goals or intentions that you have set for counselling. Find the time to ask your counsellor what they think about how you are going or how the counselling process is going. You might benefit from making changes to what your day looks like or other things have come up during counselling that would change your priorities, that is okay.

Stay Connected

To make the most of your counselling it is so helpful to connect with and be supported by the community that you have. Counselling is a separate part of your week and is not something that is meant to be permanent while your friends, family and church are a part of your everyday life and are a source of a wide range of support.

 

Spouse and family

These are the people that do daily life alongside you. Your spouse and your family can become very valuable support when it comes to paying attention to the different homework activities you might have to do, drawing your attention to certain behaviours that you might be wanting to change and offering feedback on how things might be going.

Even if you don’t live with anyone, your family may still work as a close support in providing the input and feedback that you need as you continue on your counselling journey. They are often the first people to ask if you need a babysitter or someone to drive you to and from counselling.

Not everyone has a close relationship with their family and there are also friends and others in the church family who will be able to provide some of the same supports.

A man of many companions may come to ruin but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

– Proverbs 18:24

 

Friends

Some people are blessed with beautiful friendships that provide support in the same way family might for others. You can also draw on these people in your life to continue to provide support, help you through the messy parts of your days and weeks and provide the perspective that you need in the moments when everything seems so overwhelming.

 

Church

The Church is an incredible gift that we have been given by God when it comes to living life in this broken world. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are also those we can call upon for the practical supports mentioned above as well as providing more intentional spiritual support.

Pastors, elders, deacons and mentors in the church are there to support and guide you together with the counsellor. They have a perspective and understanding that you might not have when it comes to the theological understandings of your counsellor and how that fits together with that of your church.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:14

In this blog post we reflect some more on how you can make the most of your counselling experience.

Recommended Books and Resources

How to Get the Most Out of Your CounsellingEliza Huie and Kyle Johnston

*We have a selection of books in the Trellis Library that are available for loan. If you would like to borrow a book, please get in touch with us to find out if we have a copy available. 

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