Subtitle: “How Long Might I Be In Counseling?”
by Dianne L. Taylor, MA, LPC
“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
My sisters and I sat stuffed into the back seat of our green Ford Fairlane 500 with coolers and picnic baskets smashed tightly against our legs taking our annual trip from New Jersey to our lake house in Maine. Our minds were not so much on the journey but rather on the destination. We anticipated with impatience the joy of running through layers of pine needles down to the edge of the cool blue lake or dragging our red, white, and blue dingy out from under the porch to see how much damage winter storms had caused. We were picturing what was ahead and we were ready to be there; no more confinement of the car! “Are we there yet?”
The journey of counseling is not unlike our trips to Maine. People who are considering entering counseling often have a destination in mind, but feel unsure about the trip that leads there. Typical questions might include, “How many sessions do you think my trip with take?” or “What is the quickest route to this particular destination?”
These are good questions; however, the answers are not precise. Unlike our journey to Maine which was dictated by maps and rush hour traffic, the journey into the heart and the process of change can look different for different people. The road to your particular destination may be straightforward and fairly short or it may be a path that holds unexpected twists and turns as you face challenging issues. I would suggest considering the following thoughts to help you think through what your personal journey may look like:
- Think about your personal goals for counseling. Counselors will often ask you to fill out a short biographical form before your first session. Spend some time on this and try to define as well as you can where you are now and where you would like to be through your counseling experience. Some questions to ask yourself might be:
- What am I hoping for?
- Does my issue relate to relationships in my life, my spiritual well being, or perhaps my marriage?
- Have I tried to reach my goal before? If so, what helped me move toward my goal and what did not help me move toward my goal?
- Think about your personal circumstances.
Are you facing the challenge of a transition or are you hoping to address a more deep seated issue such as depression or anxiety that seems to plague your ability to relate to your world as you would like?
- Think about your level of investment.
- Do you find yourself in a place where change is desirable and worth the possibility of some discomfort?
- Do you find yourself anxious about the idea of entering counseling at all?
Thinking through these questions ahead of time can help you and your counselor begin your time together with a greater understanding of what your personal journey might look like. Together you will be able to create a tentative plan to help you reach your destination.
So, jump in the car and begin the trip. It may feel cramped and uncomfortable for a while, but every mile you travel brings the opportunity for growth and hope and takes you one step closer to answering that all important question, “Are we there yet?”
For some travel humor, link to the blog of Chuck Roberts, MA, LPC, for a laugh-out-loud story entitled, Warning, Warning!!! www.chuckroberts.blogspot.com