What is counseling? Counseling provides a supportive environment in which to talk openly and confidentially about personal issues and to work toward change in one's thoughts, feelings, behavior, relationships and/or life situation.

Counseling is a collaborative process which involves the development of a unique helping relationship. In this relationship, the counselor acts as a skilled facilitator in helping the client identify and achieve desired changes. The client's own effort and initiative are critical to this process.

Why seek counseling? People seek counseling for a variety of reasons. Some may want a therapist to assist in the desire for a more meaningful life. However, many seek therapy because something in life has become particularly dissatisfying or problematic. The problem may be individual (from within) or relational.

But there are also times when we do something wrong and don't feel bad because we are able to justify it based on something else that actually had nothing to do with our improper behavior.

As a result, we often have no idea at all why we feel sad or anxious. We may also be mystified when others are angry at us for doing something we feel was totally justified. Our own behavior can sometimes be a complete mystery to ourselves.

If you feel lost or stuck in a particular area of your life and have felt that way for several weeks, or if you have been grappling with a problem, whether it be interpersonal, situational, relationship, work-related, etc., and you feel that it’s causing you pain and getting in the way of your life, then therapy can help.

We understand it's difficult to reach out for help. We hope to work with you and help you move forward to your best self.

How can counseling help me? Insight is the ability to discern the true nature of a situation, especially by intuition. The perception produced by this ability is insight. This is where counseling comes in. A therapist may help you to understand how your actions and behaviors affect others around you. You and the therapist may then begin the process of disentangling all of the factors that may be affecting you. Often, and for many different reasons, we all get stuck in certain patterns of thinking or behavior. Therapy can help you think more clearly and have a better understanding of yourself and the world around you.

If you find yourself stuck in unproductive, unfulfilled, even self-destructive patterns of thinking and behavior, then therapy will help you gain valuable insight and understanding that will ultimately help put you back in control over your own life.

Why am I so nervous to see a therapist? It is not unusual to feel anxious or nervous about starting therapy. We encourage you to accept this feeling as being part of the process. Seeing the therapist for the first time is scary. It’s like allowing a perfect stranger into the personal space of your private home and pointing them in the direction of your messiest closet. It's not an easy thing to trust someone enough to talk to them about things you generally don't discuss, and it's even harder to acknowledge and discover things about yourself that you're not particularly proud of or have been avoiding. Let’s face it, going to see a therapist for the first time is difficult, and you will feel anxious. With acceptance of these feelings, you've made the first and most important step in the therapeutic process: acknowledging that you are experiencing difficult feelings and being willing to reach out for help.

What can I expect from my first appointment? In the first session, your therapist will ask you something along the lines of, "What brings you here today?" This is because the therapist will need to gather a great deal of information from you and you can decide what's most important to discuss. You are your own life's expert and you are best equipped to tell your own story.

There will be a focus on the main problem that you came in for and you will be asked for more details as to what symptoms you are experiencing and when they started. This is so you and your therapist can have a clear understanding of what your goals are and what you hope to achieve as a result of therapy.

By the end of the session, you may have many feelings at the same time. Many people describe a combination of relief, anxiety, hope, peacefulness, horror, or any number of other feelings. This is all very normal and you will find that your feelings evolve over time as you attend more sessions.

How long and how often should I see a therapist? This is a tricky question because your treatment will really be tailored to you. Some people benefit from long-term therapy that can last one year or more. Others come in for as little as six weeks. You may find that you are asked to come in more often at the beginning and then taper off as you begin to reach your treatment goals. Generally, therapy sessions are held once a week or once every other week.

What if therapy does not help? A relationship with your therapist is not much unlike any other relationship: in order for it to be healthy, it needs to feel comfortable. If you find that after several sessions you are still feeling uncomfortable, it's possible that it is not the right therapist or the right timing for you. This is a good opportunity to practice good communication and talk to your therapist about how you feel. It's also important that you don't have unreasonable expectations of yourself or your therapist and give up on therapy prematurely. This is like working with a personal trainer and giving up after a couple of sessions because you don't notice a significant difference in your muscle tone right away. There may be times when you will feel discouraged and wonder if it's worth the trouble to keep going to therapy. We encourage you to discuss your concerns with your therapist so you can make a good decision.