Begin with the end in mind. Just take two minutes to consider what would be different if counseling met your hopes and expectations. Ask yourself, “How would I know when I’m done and satisfied with counseling? What would it look like if this problem were resolved?” Be specific. These are your goals, and it is my job to help you find a way through this in a manner that makes sense to you or, better yet, resonates with your experience. Below is my attempt to describe the typical course of counseling.
The first step is simply to schedule online or call us at 574-280-8199. You can make a convenient appointment to meet, or simply call to get answers to preliminary questions and test the waters. Even if nothing comes of your initial contact, you’ve at least opened up the possibility of finding someone who can help you make the change you yearn for. If you and I don’t appear to be a good fit, I’m very happy to put you in contact with other counselors whom I trust and who have different styles and backgrounds that might be a better fit for you.
After we’ve set an appointment, we send you some paperwork in advance so you’ll be familiar with what I’m asking you to sign when we first meet. This is basically the legal paper work – consent to treatment, agreement of fees, explanations of limits of confidentiality, and a background questionnaire.
At our first meeting, I’ll be ready to greet you when you walk in the door. There is no receptionist or waiting in a waiting room. We’ll quickly take care of the paperwork and get busy. My job in this first 50-minute meeting is to understand your unique experience of the problem, define what you want changed, and offer clear ideas of what I think would be the best method given who you are and the nature of your concern.
For couples, I have a different structure to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship in all the key areas correlated with relationship health. For adult individual clients or child clients I’ll start with some basic questions to help me understand you or your child as a person and then to understand your experience of the problem. I’ll ask what would have to be different in the end for this process to meet or even exceed your hopes and expectations, and then we’ll discuss how we think we can get there. It is really just that straight forward, with some modification in the case of couples counseling.
If I’m doing my job right and if we are a good fit, you’ll experience quicker change early on, within the first three or four meetings. A large majority of my clients have met the bulk of their goals by the sixth meeting, many in as few as 3 or 4. Often, clients prefer to finish things off without my help. “I can take it from here with what I’ve learned. Thanks John.” Others prefer to schedule once-a-month meetings for a few months to finish things up and ensure there is no back-sliding. We’ll follow your judgment on this.
When our work is done, you’ll know how you’ve come to the improvement in your life and you’ll have a clear understanding of how to anticipate and address the problem if it rears its head again. One of the most encouraging aspects of my job is that the large majority of people go away having achieved the change they set out to make. So most likely, we’ll end on a very positive note with an open invitation to return if you hit a bump in the road or notice some back-sliding.