Posted by: counselorcarmella | November 3, 2010

Help Me Help You

Motivation, honesty,  and patience are crucial ingredients in the counseling process for both counselor and client.


Its Up To You How Much This Helps. There may be times when I have to be an “expert,” but for the most part,  this is about us working together. I can’t do  counseling at you, to you, or for you. I believe clients  can and  should be active participants in the counseling process.  It is my  belief that clients are responsible for taking what   they  gain from counseling into their day to day lives and relationships.  Otherwise, its kind of like going to church for an hour on Sundays, and then not  putting  anything gained in worship or preaching into  play in your day-to-day life.  I can’t tell you  specifically what you “should” do with every decision you face.  That’s not my job.   I can talk things over with you, but the ultimate choices are yours.


Be Open To The Process: I am strength-focussed and  want clients to be able to make choices for themselves. One of these choices is the decision to  make the most of counseling by being willing to  step out of comfort zones,  be open to different ideas, and try  new things.  At least try and maintain a state of “maybe” when considering what I have to say about how things could be different and what might be helpful for you. You don’t have to trust me immediately and you might be very skeptical about counseling, but   giving the process a chance  just might  bring about results that surprise you. 


Have Goals In Mind.  Come to counseling with some idea of what you want to work  on or what you’d like to talk about during each session.  I’ll ask a lot of questions, but I want to make sure we’re dealing with what is important to you.  I want you to be able to vent and talk honestly about  your stressors in a safe and confidential environment, but at some point, wthere has to be some action to follow the talk.


Meds and Substances: I expect clients to comply with   physician prescribed  medications or  other medical interventions while working with me. If I suggest a med  consult, its because I really do think you need one for any number of reasons.  I’ll help you find a good  doctor if you don’t have one, but please be willing to  follow through with this if I request it of you. I’ll explain my reasons, whether its about meds or a good general check up to make sure your problems isn’t due to a physical issue. I want to know about any med changes, if  you’ve run out of something or stopped taking it, or if you aren’t taking it as prescribed.  If you are using drugs of any kind (legal or otherwise), I need for you to be honest with me about this.  If you’ve been drinking on the day of your appointment, don’t bother coming in.  I mean that very seriously.  You’ll be wasting both our time.


Be Honest: Making the most of counseling also means being honest with me about  thoughts, behaviors, and situations that may impact the counseling process.  I need to know what’s really going on in your life so I can help.  If you’re cutting yourself, tell me.  If you’re thinking about suicide, tell me.  If you’re cheating on your spouse, tell me before we start marriage counseling.  Secrets cause problems.  No one likes being lied to.  If you have some sort of  motive besides better mental health and  positive relationships, let me know.  That means, if you’re applying for Disability,  wanting something for court, or  are coming because someone  is “making you,” I need to know that. If you don’t like how counseling is going, I need to know that, too.  If you’ve got a financial issue that has come up, let me know so we can figure out what to do about it.    


Keeping Appointments: I strive to treat each client with  sensitivity and respect and to give each person the time and attention they need as their counselor. I can only help if clients keep appointments and come in ready to talk about whatever  is troubling them. If someone is on my schedule, I believe in good faith that they will keep their agreement to  be here at that time. If clients  regularly  cancel their appointments late or don’t show up for sessions, that   often indicates a lack of motivation and readiness for  counseling.


Respect My Time.  Each counselor is only available to meet with clients a certain amount of hours per week. Time slots are set aside for each client so we can provide you  with our undivided attention during the times  you are scheduled to meet with your counselor. When appointments are  missed or canceled  without  sufficient notice,  this leads to  our having “empty time” on our schedules. We often have people who are waiting to get in and see us, and if we don’t know that a slot is going to be open, we can’t  give it to someone else because it still has  another client’s name on it.


Honor Our Policies and Procedures: When clients miss or late cancel several times in a row and run up a balance, we become concerned that we will  become an additional stressor rather than a help. For this reason, additional appointments may not be  scheduled until the client takes care of  their outstanding balance. We communicate our  24-hour cancellation policy  verbally and in writing so that clients are aware that they will be charged for missed appointments or late cancellations. Our policies are similar to other counseling agencies in the area. We  strive to balance  fairness and accountability  in this regard. Each client gets a phone call the day before to remind them of scheduled appointment times.  This provides clients the opportunity to  reschedule or cancel,  if necessary, and cuts down on  appointment times being forgotten or  mixed up.


Let  Me Know If There’s a Crisis: I  expect clients to  commit to asking for  appropriate help if a mental health crisis arises. I define a  crisis as  something   that absolutely can’t wait until your next scheduled session due to it being very serious in nature.  If a client is feeling suicidal or having   severe symptoms that could lead to impulsive harmful behaviors, this is a crisis.

When having a crisis, I  expect clients to leave me a voicemail at 808-1800 ext 230  advising me of the situation and requesting a call back as soon as possible.   I also expect clients in severe crisis to make use of our crisisline if they need immediate help at 381-2221 or to call 911 or go to the nearest ER. The crisis phone is available after hours and on weekends. Daytime emergencies are handled through our office.  


Understand That You Might Need  More Help. If there is a need for  a lot of extra time or attention from me between sessions due to phone calls  or providing documents,  additional fees may be charged for this extra time and case work. An ongoing need for attention between scheduled sessions often indicates a need for a more intensive form of care than  is provided in  outpatient counseling. Should I feel this to be the case, I will discuss this concern with you. Sometimes, crisis situations arise in which a client may need full or partial hospitalization or other interventions.  I facilitate obtaining these higher levels of treatment when necessary.  Same goes if I think you may need a  different therapist.


Remember  That Counselors Are People, Too:  Like I said, I really do care.  If you’re on my caseload, I’m personally invested in helping you. If I feel that my time has been wasted, a client is late a lot, or someone just keeps not showing up, this bothers me.  I may feel angry or annoyed.  Certain types of lies really get to me and compromise the counseling relationship significantly. As counselors, there are times when we have bad days, days when we don’t feel well or are distracted by personal concerns.  It is our job not to let that interfere with the  counseling process, but  if we’re just not quite up to par one day,  we’ll tell you.  At least, I will.  I’ve realized I can’t fake that.  I forget things sometimes, run behind sometimes,  or  might say something you don’t like.  Give me the benefit of the doubt. We get sick  or have  emergencies, too.  When this happens, I (or one of our staff members) try and communicate with you when this is the case. 


Communicate:  If you have a problem or concern, bring it up.  We can talk about  anything.  Contrary to popular myth, I can’t read your mind.  The counseling relationship is  a place where you can learn  how to raise difficult issues,  communicate more effectively, and disagree with someone without it being a big argument or confrontation.  If chances  to practice those things come up naturally, great!  Let’s make  good use of them. 


Believe That I Care About You.  I really do care about each person who comes  into my office. I don’t think its an accident.  I have compassion for your situation.  I don’t say or do anything to try and make your pain  worse or your life more difficult.  I want to help you. I want to honor  who you are as an individual created by God.  I want good things for you.


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