Common Questions

No matter how you came about the decision to enter counselling, it is an important step in taking care of yourself. Starting such a process can be discomforting, can be scary, and/or anxiety provoking. To help you ease some of your apprehension, I have addressed common questions below. 

What is counselling/psychotherapy?

The terms counselling and psychotherapy represent essentially the same thing and are often used interchangeably. Both are defined as being a relational process based upon the ethical use of specific professional competencies to facilitate human change. The overall aim is to provide an opportunity for people to work towards living more satisfyingly and resourcefully, through work at the cognitive (i.e. thoughts), affective (emotions), or behavioral (actions) levels. 

How do I know if counselling is right for me?

Counselling is definitely worth considering if you are experiencing relationship problems, self-doubt or if you are feeling down, anxious, stuck, confused, or dissatisfied with areas of your life. It can be of help if you feel like things have gotten out-of-hand and the usual methods of coping, or sources of support no longer work for you. You can also gain from counselling if you feel that you are growing and changing and would like someone to accompany you in your journey as you explore your life. Just the fact that you are considering it can be an indication that the experience would be of help.

How can counselling help?

It can be very healing in and of itself to talk to a supportive person, to voice your worries and to talk about what’s weighing on your mind. While it can be very helpful to turn to close friends and family members for discussing your problems, you might benefit more from having an outside perspective on your situation. Talking to a professionally-trained psychologist can be what you need in order to get to the root of your problems, develop better ways of coping, increase self-awareness, overcome emotional challenges, and make positive changes in your life. 

Is it confidential?

Information shared in counselling is kept private. You can be assured that all interactions, including content of your sessions, your records, scheduling of, or attendance at appointments, will be held with utmost confidentiality and anonymity. As a member of the College of Alberta Psychologists, I adhere to the professional standards and principles of confidentiality of its Code of Ethics. There can be certain legal exceptions, which will be discussed during the first session. 

What to expect in counselling? 

Counselling is a partnership, it`s a team effort. It is important that you take an active part in the sessions if you want the experience to be valuable. Both you and I contribute to the healing process, but in different ways. You are not expected to do the work of recovery all by yourself, but I can’t do it for you either. Therapy should feel like collaboration. 

The counselling process will not always be pleasant; it can be difficult and sometimes upsetting. Painful memories, frustrations or feelings might surface. This is a normal part of the healing journey, and I welcome you to communicate with me how you are feeling. 

As a psychologist, I do not make decisions for you. Only you can know what is best for you. I know this is challenging, sometimes we want others to sort out our problems and make them go away, but we cannot grow as adults if we approach thing this way. My role is to explore the possibilities with you, to develop new strategies for dealing with your situation, and to help you come to your our own decisions. 

How does the first counselling session look?

The main goal of the first session or two is to learn about you and your current issues. You will be asked several questions about your life, personal and/or relationship history, current situation, symptoms and more. Questions asked include: 

  • What particular issue led you to seek counselling at this time?
  • How is your overall quality of life?
  • What have you tried in the past to resolve your issue? What did not work?
  • What are the main goals you want to accomplish by coming to counselling? 

Information gathering is mandatory for making an initial assessment. While I might have a better understanding of your situation at the end of your first visit, it’s more likely that a proper assessment will take a few more sessions. 

The first session is also an important time for establishing a mutual connection between us. It is essential that you feel comfortable with me in order to make progress. 

You are encouraged to come to your first session with realistic expectations. Keep in mind that psychotherapy is a process rather than a quick fix for your problems. 

How long does counselling last?

The duration of the counselling process varies for each case. It depends on a number of things, such as the nature and the severity of the issues, how much work inside and outside of the office are people willing to do, the goals and objectives, and the time and funds available. The length of time is also affected by how open and honest you are with yourself and with me. Sometimes, people prefer to keep a part of their story hidden from themselves or from me, which could have been the key to change if it was addressed. It can be very difficult to speak of certain things when we feel ashamed or afraid to be judged. Effectiveness of counselling depends on trust and comfort level, which can take time to build.  

How do I know when to stop counselling?

Ideally, counselling should be terminated when you have met your goals. In session, we will evaluate whether the problems that caused you to seek counselling have been resolved and whether any additional problems or issues have come to your attention that you may wish to address. You may feel at some point that you have got what you need out of our sessions. But even after, it's not uncommon for people to return briefly to counselling from time to time as needs arise.