what it is like to see a conselor

What Is It Like To See A Counselor?


Beginning mental health counseling can seem like a scary and mysterious endeavor, especially if it is the first time you have seen a counselor.

Unfortunately, many people put off seeing a counselor despite significant mental health concerns, because of this fear. If you are one of those people, or simply wish to better understand the counseling process, then this blog post is for you!

Types of Psychotherapy

The first thing to consider is that not all therapies or approaches to counseling are the same. Indeed, there are a wide range of different counseling approaches, each of which have a different feeling, pace, and emphasis.

Here is a brief list of some common therapies/counseling approaches that you may encounter:

  • Client-Centered Therapy – Emphasises the therapeutic relationship.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Emphasises making changes in thoughts and behaviors.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Emphasises acceptance of emotional responses, new ways of thinking, and behavior change.
  • Art or Music Therapy – Uses music and art in order to heal.
  • Psychodynamic Therapies – Emphasises past experiences, memories, dreams, and unconscious processes.
  • Motivational Interviewing – A brief form of therapy, designed to motivate clients/potential clients in a short period of time. Often used in conjunction with other therapies.
  • Existential Therapy – Emphasises anxieties around death, existence, and meaning.

Common Factors

Despite the clear differences between the various therapeutic styles, there are some common factors which you’ll likely experience regardless of where you seek counseling. These include:

  • Usually there is an intake, before the initial session, in which the therapist will gather basic information regarding your mental health and history.
  • Sessions are typically 50 minutes long, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis
  • The therapist will likely “check in” with you during the beginning of the session, reviewing how your week went.
  • A good therapist will adopt an attitude of respect and positive regard toward the client.

Some Tips To Remember

You must want to change

Generally, counseling will only be helpful if you WANT to be there. While counselors may strive to help motivate their clients, some degree of willingness and desire to change is required.

Counseling isn’t a quick fix

Even the briefest of therapies typically last 8-10 sessions. Although you will, hopefully, experience some significant positive changes in that timeframe (2-3 months), deep rooted issues may require more times to address.

It’s up to YOU

Beware the temptation to view your therapist as someone who will “fix” or “cure” you. The truth is, YOU are the one who ultimately changes you. The therapist is simply there to help you and guide this process of change.

You MUST have a Comfortable Relationship with Your Therapist

I cannot stress enough how important this last part is. It has been said that 90% of therapy is the relationship between counselor and client. If you feel uncomfortable with your therapist, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere.

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Further Reading

Over To You

Was this article helpful? Do you have any other questions about what to expect in counseling? Please comment Below!

James Voss, MA, LMHCA


James is a mental health counselor, specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and substance use related issues. James emphasizes the therapeutic relationship with his clients and uses a wide range of techniques to help reduce distress and foster psychological flexibility.

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