Individual counselling, also known as individual therapy, refers to meeting one on one with a therapist to work through whatever is concerning you. Individual counselling may be a fit for you if you would like support with:
- Stress management
- Depression and anxiety
- Trauma (including violence and abuse)
- Anger management
- Grief and loss
- Concerning Behaviours
- Relationship difficulties
- Life transitions
- Professional and career issues
- And many other concerns
Typically, individual counselling utilizes talking as the primary way to work through the challenges you are facing. Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, addresses concerns using verbal communication to explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. The therapist uses their understanding of human distress and the change process to guide the conversation.
In some cases, the therapist may integrate other forms of therapy into talk therapy such as play-based strategies, art-based strategies, movement, mindfulness, and treatments that target the mind-body connection (EMDR and ART).
A frequent theme of individual counselling is overcoming obstacles. Often, when we are dealing with difficult things, the problem is more apparent than the solution. With the help of an individual therapist, we can begin to look at matters from a different perspective.
A therapist can assist you in dealing with the symptoms you are facing which may include:
- Intense emotions or no emotion
- Feeling on edge or overwhelmed
- Changes in energy
- Concerning behaviours
- Conflict with others
- Problems in relationships
- Withdrawal or isolation
- Excessive worries
- Challenges coping
- And more
A therapist can work with you to assess how your present strategies for dealing with these concerns are working for you. They can also provide alternate strategies and ideas for coping.
In addition, therapists can help you explore and understand what is underneath the symptoms you are experiencing. Often, symptoms are a response to challenging or adverse experiences that cause distress.
In many cases, noticing, exploring, processing and even resolving these concerns provides greater relief
or change than just focusing on symptoms. Some of the underlying contributors to distressing symptoms
- Traumatic events
- Adverse childhood experiences
- Family/Relationship discord
- Identity issues
- Violence and abuse
- Contextual factors (eg. Job stress, financial stress, etc.)
- Health issues
- Major life events or transitions
Overcoming obstacles can be hard work but having a therapist to walk through the process with you can
lighten the load!
The past is important in as so far as it illuminates what’s happening in the present.
FAQs about Therapy
Both a friend and a therapist can be good listeners and provide comfort and support. The primary difference is that a therapist is someone who is trained to listen and support you in a purposeful and non-bias way. Further, therapists typically don’t offer advice. Instead, a therapist focuses on your goals and targets their support to helping you come up with your own solutions and make changes where you choose to.
Though everyone is different, therapy is intended to be time-limited. Length of service is influenced by a number of factors including:
- The type of therapy you are engaging in
- Your goals – what you are working towards
- How long you have been dealing with the problem or concern that brought you to therapy
- How much distress you are experiencing
Research suggests that you should start to feel relief and/or notice some changes after 3 or 4 sessions of therapy. If you are not, an adjustment to the approach may be required. By the eighth session, 50% of people find relief from their concerns* .
In Michael Lambert reviews relevant publications and concludes (p.204) “Therapy is highly efficient for a large minority of clients, perhaps 30% of whom attain a lasting benefit after only three sessions.” and when monitoring for “reliable improvement … it appears 50% of patients respond by the 8th session and 75% are predicted to need at least 14 sessions to experience this degree of relief.”
*Lambert, Michael (2021). Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behaviour Change
We typically recommend you schedule your first three to four therapy session every one to two weeks. This allows you to begin to make some changes to whatever brought you in to therapy in the first place. Once you have a few sessions under your belt, you will be able to determine whether you need more or less frequent sessions.
Another consideration of how often you should attend therapy is how much distress you are experiencing. More distress implies you would benefit from more frequent therapy.
Over 50 years of research shows that psychotherapy works! Studies show that the average client receiving therapy is better off than 79% of clients who do not seek treatment. Therapy produces consistent, positive effects across genders, ages, and presenting problems.
The first session with a therapist is split between ensuring you know what to expect from the process and exploring your concerns and your goals. To start, the therapist will review the consent forms provided to you prior to the session to ensure you understand what you are agreeing to. The therapist will provide you with information about their job and what you can expect in counselling. You will have an opportunity to ask any questions you have. Next, the therapist will ask you questions to get to know you better and to understand what your hopes are for therapy. Common questions include:
- What brings you to therapy?
- How long have you been dealing with this concern?
- Why did you decide to reach out for therapy now?
- How have you been dealing with your concerns until now?
- What has been working for you? What has not?
- What are you hoping will change in your life as a result of participating in counselling?
Many therapists offer a 50 minute hour: 50 minutes in session with you and 10 minutes for paperwork. We are a little bit different. We spend the full time of your session with you. If you book an hour, your session will last 60 minutes. If you book and hour and a half, your session will last 90 minutes. This is part of our strategy to ensure you receive as much value as possible from the time you are paying for.