How is Counselling different from talking to a close friend ?

At first glance I can understand how this may be confusing but it is very different. It may seem similar if your friend is a good listener, supportive and caring about what is happening in your life. It is very important that in therapy these qualities exist and form the foundation to the relationship with your therapist. However, with a close friend there is a back and forth process, you will both share aspects of your life, compare experiences and give each other advice. In Therapy the focus is on you and even if on occasions your therapist may share aspects of their life it will be in response to something that is useful to you, and not because they need your attention and support like a friend would.

The quality and focus of attention from your therapist is very different. Counsellors are trained on many levels of human development and emotional/cognitive/somatic/brain processing and integration. Depending on their approach and training they will respond to you in ways that facilitate the kinds of changes you want in your life. Friends don’t do that. In the work that I do I may focus your attention, help you slow down or make suggestions that facilitate a deeper present felt experience to integrate new experiences and perspectives. Therapy is not the only relationship that facilitates change in our life but it is one that is set up to maximize that possibility. When friends/partners try to be be your ‘therapist’ (especially if they are not trained) they will often end up feeling drained, resentful and become controlling.

 
 

How am I suppose to open up to a stranger ?

I get it. The thought of walking into a room with someone you have never met and talking about close and personal aspects of your life, thoughts and feelings, seems like the last thing you want to do. There are some of you that this will be a lot easier to do than others. Here are some things to bear in mind.

Just like any relationship it takes time. I certainly do not expect you to talk about vulnerable things as soon as you walk in the door, we can take as much time as you need to find your comfort level and sense of safety. I know time is money but this part is just as much the therapy as working through the emotions of a painful experience. Some would say more important.

Some people actually find it easier to talk to someone who is not in their day to day life. Knowing that I am there to give you my full attention, compassion and acceptance can make it easier than talking to people you know.

The relationship we form and everything we talk about is confidential. That means no-one will know about it unless you tell them. It stays between you and I.

You have a choice about which therapist to see. This is why I offer a free 1/2hr consultation so we can meet in person first and you can check out whether you want to work with me before proceeding.

What is the difference between a Registered Clinical Counsellor and a Registered Psychologist ?

The main difference is what degree they have attained. RCC’s have a masters degree and a RPsych (in BC) have a PhD. The higher degree usually focuses on further study of research and conducting their own research. A master’s degree can involve their own research study but is not a requirement. Both are knowledgeable in many theories of counselling and psychotherapy and various counselling skills. In terms of expertise in providing therapeutic services both are equally qualified and vary between individual therapists depending on ongoing training, experience and personal style. Therapists with a PhD often have more experience in teaching and supervision and are qualified to perform formal assessments for court and other bodies.

Both have to be registered with their respective professional bodies to practice. Both are subject to a code of ethics. Both have a complaints procedure that the public can make a formal complaint to.

Most in-depth training occurs following a formal university degree and RCC’s and Psychologists are required to pursue ongoing study to maintain their registration. In choosing a therapist the kind of experience and in-depth training and approach they have has little to do with what degree they have.

Do people become dependent on their therapist ?

We usually have people in our lives that are important to us for all sorts of reasons. We have friends, doctors, dentists, car mechanics etc in our lives who we count on for things that we need. So why does having a therapist bring up fears of dependency for so many people?

One possibility is that it is terrifying to be ‘known’. What I mean is the prospect of someone seeing and experiencing those aspects of our self that we carry shame around. At the same time there may be a longing to be connected and understood. So we can end up with this internal struggle that is very ambivalent about connecting with a therapist who is trained to connect with us in a deep and meaningful way.

For many of us the attachment process (our ability to connect with and feel safe with people) has been disrupted. For some this means they want to avoid any attachment as it is dangerous and unpleasant. For these folks they have disconnected from their need for attachment and are ‘going it alone’ in the world. They tend to avoid being known because they are afraid it will be used against them.

Then there are folks who what to connect but don’t believe they can have what they want. They have had the rug pulled out from under them too many times and expect that people will leave and not be there for them. These folks fear of loss and abandonment fuels their need to hold on to any connection. In a different way they protect themselves from being known AND attempt to control the connection.

As your therapist I am interested in paying attention to you and ‘knowing’ you. It is easy to see how fears of dependency might be activated when this kind of attention is seen as dangerous. I see my job as helping you process these struggles and move towards secure attachment.

 
 

How many sessions will it take?

This question often refers to the above one on dependency or a concern over time is money. It is an investment for sure and varies from 6 sessions to several years depending on what you are seeking assistance with.

I see myself as your therapist for as long as I am around. What this means is that I am a resource to my clients whenever they are needing a safe and compassionate space to explore the challenges that life throws at them. However, it is typical during the beginning of therapy for people to come more often, once a week or every two weeks. Then people tend to lessen the frequency until they come in as needed.