Ten Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Counseling Experience

The decision to see a counselor during a difficult time in your life is a very wise one.  Common concerns are cost and length of treatment.  But there are others as well.  What does it involve and how do I know if it’s working?  Here are some tips with which you can prepare yourself to get the most out of our counseling sessions and help yourself to feel better soon.

      1. Write Down Your List of Concerns.

        What seems to be the trouble?  When your counselor asks this question, it’s a lot easier to answer if you already have your thoughts organized on paper.  Make a list of the things that are bothering you, and if you have an idea when it began, include the dates.  You can also write down any thoughts or ideas during the session so that you can review them later.

      2. Have a Specific Goal in Mind of What You Want to Accomplish.

        “I want to feel better” is not a specific goal.  Something more like, “I want to be motivated to go to work in the morning” or “I want to be able to have a conversation with my mom without feeling burned” are more appropriate and more helpful.  Your goal needs to be something that you can accomplish independent of other people.  When your goal is to have someone else’s behavior change, as in “I want my husband to pay more attention to me” or “I want my mother to stop nagging me,” be prepared to invite the second party to your counseling sessions.  Those may be your desires, but they shouldn’t be your goals.  Remember, counselors can only help you change how you feel, not how someone else behaves.

      3. Be Open to How Long Counseling May Take.

        You will have a sense of when you feel satisfied with your progress, but don’t rush it.  If you are looking to keep the number of your sessions down due to financial concerns, talk about it with your counselor.  Be proactive in what “homework” the counselor may assign and do the work.  The more work you do outside of our sessions, the more productive they will be.  Problems that we’ve developed over the years are rarely simple with easy, quick fix answers.  So realize that it may take more than just a few sessions to heal from the problem.

      4. Tell Your Counselor the Truth.

        Many times we feel embarrassed by issues we are dealing with, or we don’t want to own our side of the problem.  Counseling is your opportunity to “get out of your mind” meaning: all the thoughts you have bouncing around in your mind finally have a place to go.  In counseling, there is confidentiality, openness and non-judgment. Your counselor will be much better able to help you, if they know your true feelings and concerns.  So tell the counselor how you feel and what you are thinking, especially if you are feeling like the counseling isn’t working for you.  Talk through your concerns and ask for a referral if you feel that you are not being heard.

      5. Christian vs. Secular Counseling.

        Christian counseling is based on Biblical precepts.  The Christian counselor may use prayer, scripture, and devotional materials as part of the process.  As a Christian, it is important to communicate to the counselor what your beliefs are.  A secular counselor may or may not be open working with those beliefs.  It is important to establish this from the beginning of treatment.

      6. Be on Time and Present for Your Session.

        Of course emergencies come up and we may run late or have to cancel.  Let your counselor know as soon as you can if this occurs.  When you are in session, be present.  This means turn off your cell phone.  If you are sick, call and reschedule when you are able to think clearly.

      7. Ask Questions. 

        Whenever you are unsure of a concept or homework assignment, ask the counselor to clarify.  No question is a dumb question and can add value to your counseling experience.  The counselor wants to know about anything that may be confusing or misunderstood.

      1. Tears May Fall.

        Many times we are in so much pain that tears will fall during counseling.  This is normal and you don’t have to apologize or hold them back.  This is no time to be stoic.  Tears can be very cathartic.  Counseling is usually the one place we are able to release the pent up pain and hurt and that is why the tears come so easily.

      2. Some Silence Can be Golden.

        Some silence in the session is also expected.  You may be thinking about something the counselor said, or even processing what you want to talk about next.  If you ever feel like the session isn’t going in a direction you want, speak up and let the counselor know what you are feeling.

      3. Counseling Works and is Work!

        You probably feel that your problem is bigger than anyone can solve.  Counseling can help us deal with problems, even when there seems to be no solution.  Counseling helps us to develop strategies and coping skills, connection and healing in order to help with all that life throws at us.  But it takes a commitment from both the counselor and the client.  Counseling can redirect our life from hopeless to hope filled!


New Life Ministries has a nationwide network of licensed mental health professionals who are ready to help! Click here if you’re considering counseling.  Just the right help may be right around the corner.


You probably feel that your problem is bigger than anyone can solve.  Counseling can help us deal with problems, even when there seems to be no solution.

Do you need help getting connected?
Join us at one of our Weekend Workshops.
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New Life Ministries, founded by Stephen Arterburn, is a nationally recognized, faith-based, broadcasting and counseling ministry offering hope and healing since 1988. Our radio show, New Life Live!, is #1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling radio talk show heard and watched by over 2 million people each week on nearly 200 radio stations nationwide, on XM and Sirius radio and on NRBTV. Our newest launch is TV.NewLife.com, an internet-based television channel offering over 1,000 teaching segments by highly respected psychologists and therapists on topics relevant to navigating the challenges and struggles we all face in life.

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