Pills Don’t Teach Skills: How Counselling Helps

A Boreal Wellness Centres Blog Post

At some point, everybody feels stress, anxiety, and sadness. Sometimes, we can work these issues out on our own by changing our lifestyle, reading books, trying mental health apps, or through talking with friends or family members. Other times, we notice patterns that we haven’t been able to change on our own or issues start to overwhelm us and negatively affect our lives, relationships, and work. In severe cases, anxiety, depression, and stress can put our health and lives at risk.

Counselling is often the most effective, and sometimes fastest, route to overcome emotional and behavioural issues that keep you from living the life you want. As well, if you catch issues early, they may need less work and care to be resolved.

When Should I Consider Counselling?

Counselling is kind of a “mood gym.” Much like you would consider working with a personal trainer to get in good physical shape, you can work with a therapist to improve your mental fitness. You’ll treat existing issues while you also build emotional resilience, which will leave you better prepared to handle whatever situations life throws at you.

Here are some situations in which you should definitely consider counselling:

  • You feel an overwhelming, prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness.
  • Your problems don’t seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends.
  • You find it difficult to concentrate on work assignments or to carry out other everyday activities.
  • You worry excessively, expect the worst or are constantly on edge.
  • Your actions, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs or being aggressive, are harming you or others.
  • When performance issues at work because of your troubles puts your job at risk.

How Long Does Counselling Take?

There’s a chance you could talk through everything with your counsellor in one session, but more likely you’ll want to take counselling for at least a couple months, attending weekly. Yet, counselling doesn’t have to stop there. can be helpful to follow up with your counsellor for the months following the ending of your sessions. Brief check-ups can ensure that things are continuing to go well. Sometimes this is called “aftercare,” continued follow-up with a counsellor is not uncommon, particularly if you’ve been dealing with issues for a long time.

Boreal Wellness Centres’ group counselling programs include aftercare. Learn more here

What Should I Expect from Counselling?

Counselling gives you a safe space to talk freely and process your emotions, but a good therapist doesn’t listen just to make you feel heard. They’re looking for patterns in how your mind works and how they can help you make it work better. Counselling should involve learning skills and building tools to manage your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Talking about your feelings is simply part of the process.

When you start counselling some of what you discuss might be painful, embarrassing or difficult. This is because exploring personal issues, and sharing them with someone, can feel overwhelming or awkward. Remember, your therapist is an expert in helping others, they are concerned about your comfort, security, and privacy above all things, and the more you honestly share with your counsellor, the better they will be able to help you. As well, remind yourself that you are at the beginning of a journey towards feeling great, better than you’ve felt in a long time.

The American Psychological Association offers this helpful advice about counselling:

  • Allow sufficient appointment time. A typical psychotherapy session lasts 45 to 50 minutes. To make the most of your time, make a list of the points you want to cover in your first session and what you want to work on in psychotherapy.
  • Be prepared to share information about what’s bringing you to the counsellor. Even a vague idea of what you want to accomplish can help you and your psychologist proceed efficiently and effectively.
  • Know your medications. If you’re on any medications, jot down which medications and what dosage so your psychologist can have that information.
  • Bring a notebook. It can be difficult to remember everything that happens during a psychotherapy session. A notebook can help you capture your psychologist’s questions or suggestions and your own questions and ideas. Jotting a few things down during your session can help you stay engaged in the process.
  • Know your family’s history. Your psychologist will also want to know about your own and your family’s history of psychological problems such as depression, anxiety or similar issues so you may want to make notes about before your session to help you remember.
  • Bring your calendar. Most people have more than a single session of psychotherapy. Bring your calendar or ensure you have access to it (e.g. online) so you can schedule your next appointment before you leave your counsellor’s office.

By the end of the first few sessions, you should have a new understanding of your problem, a game plan and a new sense of hope. Ultimately, counselling will likely change you for the better. After counselling life can feel more meaningful and exciting because you’re stretching and growing and more fully living your life.

Contact Us.

If peace of mind, happiness, and mental health are important to you we can help. Contact us and we’ll confidentially explore your concerns and help you decide the best path to reclaiming your well-being and happiness. We look forward to hearing from you.

Post Author: Scott Wallace, PhD
Date Posted: January 2020
Date of Review: January 2020

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