Counselling and Coaching - 6 tips on how to get the most out of it
Counselling and coaching are more common today than they have been ever before. It seems it is even fashionable to have a therapist of some kind.
But what do they offer?
Coaches and counsellors have a wide range of services but as a whole, they offer one major thing. Healing. Healing can take a variety of forms, but as whole healing allows you to move forward in life whilst being comfortable with the scars that have shaped you. It doesn’t mean you forget all the trauma you have faced but instead, you carry them with the multitude of lessons they offered.
Getting the most of out counselling and coaching
With any investment, you must take the time to prepare yourself so you can maximise your use of it. Maximising the use of therapy allows for your healing to take place at the deepest level. Your heart. When our heart is freed from the pain that we hold, our attitude shifts and we begin navigating through our traumas.
This article goes through 7 different tips for getting the most out of coaching and counselling. Ultimately, it is about trying the tips that resonate the most with yourself.
Tip #1 Research for a counsellor and coach
Finding a counsellor or coach can be a daunting task. Firstly, it takes humility to accept you need help outside of yourself. You may be left with all sorts of questions; “What if I don’t ever find the right therapist?” “How do I know if someone will be able to help me?”. These questions are normal. Taking this into context, it is important to put the right amount of research into finding a counsellor or coach for you.
A few things to think about before you begin researching counsellors or coaches
It is important to you understand what kind of communication style you prefer, this could be direct, passive, blunt or even someone who is extremely calming. All of these, different styles of communication are important as the right style gives you the best opportunity to open up.
Do you have a specific mental health condition? This is an important question to think about, as by understanding this you can focus on researching counsellors or coaches who have experience dealing with the recovery of a particular condition. Ultimately this narrows the search and makes it that much easier for you.
Even if it turns out that the therapist you chose wasn’t what you expected, your research is not in vain as you now have a specific area to look in
Tips on researching for a therapist
Take communication style, specialities, and testimonials into account
Understand the style of therapy that you would like i.e. remote or in-person
Look through their promotional material (social media, advertising, website)
Have an introductory phone call, to see how you feel when speaking to them and if their style suits you
Try and remind yourself that you don’t have to get it right straight away, and this process takes time
Tip #2 – Going with an open mind
Being open-minded can be helpful when starting counselling or coaching. It gives the benefit of being able to learn new things, gain insight, achieve personal growth and allows you to listen more carefully.
One of the major issues with being close-minded is the ability to shut down when someone talks to you, whilst being open-minded allows you to take in new information. This goes hand in hand with therapy, as you are often given new information, whether it be insights into yourself or techniques, and therefore being open-minded gives you a chance to be able to learn without dismissing the information given. Secondly, being open-minded gives you the chance to be able to listen to information more intently. This is key for therapy. Listening to yourself speak, allows you to understand how you have been feeling and the issues that are bothering you. Additionally, listening to your counsellor or coach gives you the ability to hear what is being said. This gives you the biggest opportunity to try and apply the techniques heard and allows you to facilitate your healing. Finally, our inner judgement can often interfere with what we allow into our minds. Being open-minded may allow you to complete the exercises that you are given whilst being able to ignore the judgement you feel towards yourself or what is being said.
All in all, therapy requires hard but honest work. Being open-minded helps facilitate this work and gives you the best chance to open up.
Tips for being open-minded
Try listening intently to what is being said
When you have judgement, try and acknowledge it before returning to focus on what is being said
Sit with what was said to you during your sessions over the week, to see if there is any truth in it
When you return, try and talk about how your reflective time alone felt.
Tip #3 – Share as much as you can
When you’re facing adversity in life, we often feel more vulnerable than normal. Often in society, people like having control. However, when you are faced with adversity control can seem lost. It is in times like this we need support from friends, family and other loved ones. This can be easier said than done, as sometimes the people we love the most are the people we find it hardest to open up to. There isn’t a concrete reason why, but one reason why this happens is that we have built an image of how we appear to our support network. A part of us feels that by showing our vulnerability we can go against this image that we have built up. This is one of the reasons it can be more difficult to open up to our support network. An alternative solution is to go see an outside source such as a counsellor or coach. This provides you with an outside space where you can talk about what you are experiencing and be given the space to process it. It is more important that when you go to a counsellor and coach, you share as much about your situation, life, issues and your story as possible.
Sharing as much as you can be extremely useful for counselling or coaching. When you go to therapy, it is beneficial for the therapist to understand your story. This is so they can understand what techniques would apply best to you when helping you process your emotions. This can be difficult as it may bring up emotions that you have been trying to remove, but by trusting the space a counsellor or coach can understand what pain and issues you are feeling behind the scenes. This offers the deepest chance of healing.
Tips for sharing as much as you can
Understand your story, and acknowledge the emotions that have been troubling you
Build trust with your therapist
Confidentiality, outside source
Try to understand that without really sharing, you won’t be able to maximise the benefits of the healing process
Tip #4 Give your chosen counsellor/coach 3 full sessions to see if you would like to continue
Once you’ve completed your research on your counsellor and coach, and you’ve found someone. It is important to be patient. This applies to many aspects, but the focus of this point is on the relationship with your counsellor or coach. The first session you will have with your chosen therapist will be a get-to-know session. A session like this is for your counsellor to be able to understand you more, and more importantly for you to share your story.
How to know whether your counsellor/coach is the right fit for you?
As a rule of thumb, you should try and give it 3 full sessions, on whether your counsellor/coach is a good fit or not. This is not a hard rule, but after 3 sessions you would’ve given yourself enough time to harness your gut feeling.
As mentioned above, the first session is much more of a story-telling based session, therefore it is difficult to gauge whether your counsellor/coach is the right fit. However, there are a few telling signs you can take with you.
Gauge how well they were listening to your story – this can be checked in the following session, on whether they remember your story
Are they asking good questions – this is another telling sign of how well they are engaged with your story
The time that you give the counsellor/coach, allows you to understand whether they fit your communication style, whether you can trust them, and whether you feel comfortable enough to continue seeing them
This helps you maximise the benefits of therapy as you are not judging someone after one session, and allowing yourself to see what works and doesn’t work with you
Try and give your 100% for each session
Try not to make a hard and fast rule on whether it is 3 session limit
Ultimately you are finding the style of communication you prefer
Tip #5 – Try to lower or remove expectations around counselling and coaching
What does it mean when someone says to have no expectations? Well simply, it means not to have any expectations of the outcome. This may be strange, as often when we do something we are looking for the desired result. This almost certainly leaves us disappointed, as there is a high chance not everything can go as you would expect it to go. Additionally, we often set unrealistic expectations therefore when we do not achieve those lofty goals we are hurt and upset. When it comes to counselling and coaching, it would be beneficial to adjust your expectations so you are not expecting anything.
This may come as a surprise, but when we remove expectations we are freer. This is because we are not expecting a certain outcome, therefore we allow ourselves to just be. By setting low or no expectations around therapy, we enable the therapy to just take place without putting pressure on our healing. This means we are not waiting for a miraculous recovery after each session, which allows us to give it our all. This in turn gives the best results, as you are allowing yourself to just get lost in the process rather than focusing on the outcome.
Tips to lower or remove expectations
Tell yourself that this is a process that requires you to focus on the next step, not the destination
Focus on sharing your story and getting to work on your issues
When thoughts about “where you should be” come into your headspace, process them, acknowledge them and let them go
This can be done, by not giving in to those thoughts, and repeating an affirmation such as: “I’m focused on the here and now”, or “I’m exactly where I need to be”
Tip #6 – Think about what you want to get out of the session before you go into it
As you begin to get into the flow of sessions you must try to take more of an active role in your therapy. Being active means not relying solely on your practitioner to figure out how to heal your issues and problems. This may seem strange at first, as it can feel comfortable being led. However, you being you, are more aware of the issues and trouble that persist in your life. Therefore, you can understand issues are preventing your week-to-week and therefore you can prioritise which issues you would like to tackle first. This will allow you to go into each session and understand what you are using the session for, ultimately this will allow your mind to share the more relevant details surrounding the particular issue and give you a clear goal in mind. You may not achieve what you set out for in each session, but you are working towards it – which is the most important thing.
Ultimately, therapy is a two relationship, no matter how talented the counsellor and coach are they cannot do the healing for you. They are there to help you heal yourself, by providing the tools and the space for you to be vulnerable.
In the beginning, it may not be as important, as you are trying to get a feel of counselling and coaching, and sharing your story is more valuable at the beginning. However, as the sessions continue being proactive becomes increasingly important. This tip is important for helping you get the most out of counselling and coaching as you can focus on working through emotions that continually persist and healing that is needed on a deeper level.
Tips for thinking about what you want to get out of the session
Note down problems that you feel affect you
Prioritise them in an order
Take them to your practitioner and work on a plan for tackling these issues in coming sessions
Counselling and coaching can be seen as pillars to support personal development. As we have read it is important to take time to understand what active role we have to play as the client. Therapy requires hard work, that takes deep introspection into who we are, why we do what we do, and how we can align our thoughts, emotions and actions. Therefore, it is important to know how to get the best out of therapy, so we commit to our healing process. One way to look at it is that by taking the time to heal yourself you can add to society and provide a form of healing to others. Thus, when it comes to our healing we have a duty not only to ourselves but to the impact we can have on the world. The tips mentioned above are only a few methods we can use to get the most out of counselling and coaching and there is one common theme between them. Proactivity. At times it can be hard however, proactivity can sometimes mean just turning up to be there for yourself. The rest will take care of itself, trust the process, trust yourself and be patient.
Have you ever thought about therapy but were unsure?
What hurdle prevented you from committing to counselling and coaching?
Remember a counsellor or coach can see blockages that you are blinded by!
Click here to find out more about Self Love Clinic’s coaching and counselling sessions, for more ways you can be supported on a journey of self-love!