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 desire. If we don’t appear to be a good fit, we are very happy to put you in contact with other counselors whom we 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 we will ask 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, we do our best to greet you when you walk in the door. There is no receptionist or lengthy wait in a waiting room, but have a seat if we do not immediately greet you. We will only be a couple of minutes. We’ll quickly take care of the paperwork and get busy. Our job in this first meeting is to understand your unique experience of the problem, define what you want changed, and offer clear ideas of what we think would be the best method given who you are and the nature of your concern.
For couples, we have a specific 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 we start with some basic questions to help us understand you or your child as a person and then to understand your experience of the problem. We 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.
Many potential clients have visions of lying on a couch and talking about their mother. That is not our style. We discuss family of origin as needed to understand who you are or what life decisions you made in past years to replicate or move away from dynamics of early relationships. While these narratives have very strong personal meaning for clients, we know you are here to accomplish something in life today, in relationships you have now. We maintian a practical focus while honoring the depth of your life experience.
If we are doing our job right and if we are a good fit, you’ll experience quicker growth early on, measureable improvement within the first three or four meetings. A large majority of our clients have meet the bulk of their goals by the sixth meeting. Often, clients prefer to finish things off without our help. “I can take it from here with what I’ve learned. Thanks.” Others prefer to continue to meet as new desires and goals emerge. Some 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 our work 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.