Amy Eksteen

Mental Health Series Part 2

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be a counsellor? Have you perhaps ever wondered what your counsellor may be thinking?

This weeks blog post aims to answer the questions we may ask ourselves about counsellors as we will be focusing on the counselling experience from the perspective of the counsellor. I think that it is important to provide some insight into a typical counselling setting, especially from the counsellors point of view, in order to encourage more open and honest discussions about mental health and the counselling experience.

In today’s blog post, we will be discussing the counselling process from the counsellors perspective before, during and/or at the end as well as after counselling. Please keep in mind that the following information comes from my own thoughts, feelings and personal approach, outlook and experiences as a counsellor.

Before counselling: Counsellors experience some nervousness and anxiety before meeting new clients and even before counselling sessions because counsellors aren’t always sure about how certain sessions will unfold. Counsellors also don’t always know how their clients will respond to them or if their clients will feel comfortable around them as counsellors. This is because counsellors sometimes wonder about how their clients will perceive them, as a counsellor and as a person. Counsellors want their clients to enjoy talking to them and they want their clients to enjoy their company since they are aware of how effective the counselling experience can be when the relationship between the client and counsellor is a positive one. It isn’t always possible for counsellors to see a client, especially if the clients concerns/purpose of attending counselling falls outside of the counsellors scope of practice or if the counsellors caseload simply is too full. Counsellors should always aim to have their client’s best interests at heart as well as prioritise their client’s health and well-being. Counsellors definitely want to ensure that their clients get the help that they need, are able to see a counsellor as soon as possible and are able to see a counsellor that they are comfortable with. After all, counsellors understand how intimidating reaching out for help can be. Counsellors also want the counselling experience of their clients to be a good one, therefore counsellors want to ensure that all of their clients rights, roles and priorities throughout the counselling experience are taken care of before the process even starts.

During and/or at the end of counselling: People may assume that counsellor’s have all the answers and always know what to say. The reality is that counsellor’s don’t always know what to say and they don’t always have the answer. Every session counsellor’s sit in, with a client, is a learning curve. Counsellor’s do however want to work together, with their client, as a team, through their concerns and reasons for coming to counselling.

Counsellors can only work with as much information as their clients choose to share with them during their counselling sessions. Counsellors may have an idea of what they want to share, explore and talk about with their client during an upcoming session, but counsellors appreciate it the most when their client provides the direction/takes the lead in the counselling session. Counsellors can also only match the efforts and amount of participation with the amount of effort and participation their clients choose to provide in order to make progress.

Counsellor’s can become emotionally invested and attached to their clients too. Counselling is about a relationship and so counsellor’s value the relationship/connections with their clients. Counselling is a journey that the counsellor and client take together – it is therefore a team effort. Counsellor’s also experience all of the ups and downs, feelings and emotions, with their clients on their journey. It can be quite an emotional experience. Counsellor’s want their clients to feel as if their counsellor’s are the best source of support they have. Counsellor’s may not have experienced the same concerns, worries and circumstances that their clients have or are experiencing, but they are committed to coming to a place of understanding, empathising and helping their clients through it.

Counsellors, as individuals, have their own concerns that they have to sit with and have to deal with, on a daily basis. Counsellors have to learn how to put aside their personal concerns/worries from their own lives in order to prioritise their clients during the process of counselling. Sometimes, on certain days, that can be difficult for counsellors to do. Counsellors want their clients to know that their lives aren’t perfect and that they don’t have everything figured out, but they try to do the best they can for their clients.

It is recommended that counsellors see their own counsellors. Counsellors want their clients to know that they also have an idea of what it is like to be a client. Counsellors are aware of how difficult it can be to be vulnerable with another person and seek help when it is needed. Counsellors are therefore able to empathise with the counselling experience. They want their clients to feel the most comfortable in their sessions as counsellors want their clients to feel listened to and cared for.

Counsellor’s worry about their client’s progress throughout counselling because they are invested in helping their clients to the best of their abilities. Counsellor’s wonder about how their clients are perceiving their sessions and most importantly, if their clients are feeling as if they are making positive progress. Counsellor’s therefore appreciate open and honest feedback throughout the counselling experience from their clients. Counsellor’s are also aware that things take time to work through and working towards change/learning to cope with one’s personal concerns is a whole process on its own. Most importantly, counsellor’s understand that everybody works through things at their own pace.

Counsellors deal with a lot of notes and admin in order to prioritise the safety of their clients for various ethical reasons. Confidentiality is one of the most important rules to counsellors as professionals and they take it very seriously.

Counsellors may take some time off of work for their own mental health and well-being. Counselling is about constantly looking after the mental health and well-being of others and sometimes counsellors have to do that for themselves. Counsellors do still think and worry about their clients during this time and should always make a plan for their clients needs to be catered to and looked after while they cater to and look after their own needs as counsellors.

After counselling: Counsellors can experience a sense of loss after their clients choose to leave the counselling process. This can also cause counsellors to experience some stress and anxiety since they do tend to think about the health and well-being of their clients after counselling. At the end of the day, counsellors always hope that they have helped their clients to the best of their ability. Counsellors aim to help their clients to better understand themselves and their situation, to cope and/or help their clients change their outlook on their circumstances as well as they aim to help their clients view the counselling experience as a whole in a more positive way. Counsellors want their clients to know that their doors are always open to them and that their counsellors truly value having the opportunity of being a part of their clients journeys.

I hope that my readers found this post interesting, that they have gained a better understanding of the counselling process and that the post was able to shed some light on the counselling experience from the perspective of the counsellor.

If you’re interested in taking a brief look at the counselling experience from the perspective of the client, click on the blog post from the week before titled “Counselling: The Client’s Perspective” for more information.

All my love xx