You find yourself exhausted, irritated and overwhelmed more often then you would like.
You feel like there is no energy left at the end of the day to do the things you really want to do and end up feeling like you have failed in so many ways.
There always seems to be ‘one more thing’ standing between you and your ability to enjoy your life, your family and the things you have worked so hard for.
At Angelus we see you, we hear you, and we are here to support you through this
With all the responsibilities that you have on your plate it is so very easy to skip the ones that recharge you. We can so very often fall into behaviors and thought patterns that tear us down more then they build us up. Going days, weeks, months, even years between any of the self care time outs that we need to help us keep going.
Counseling can be foundational in helping to reset your priorities and get you back on the right emotional and physical track towards a healthy and happy life. Making the decision to priortize yourself for an hour a week to address stress, anxiety, relationship issues, depression, parenting (etc) is the first step towards finding needed and necessary balance in your life. Whether you are coming in indivdually or for couples’ counseling, we are here to help you through the rough patches in life.
WHAT DOES THE COUNSELING PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
Counseling is meant to help you gain control over thoughts and emotions that that have been creating major road blocks in your life. Together, you and your therapist will work to address the emotions, physical sensations, and thoughts that have you feeling stuck on the spin cycle. You will learn new ways to approach situations and relationships that will leave you feeling more balance and in control of your life.
You and your therapist will start with meeting together weekly for 45 to 55-minute sessions. You will get the most out of therapy when you make an 8-week commitment to attending weekly sessions. It has been found that when therapy is done less frequently in the initial stages, it often takes longer to make and sustain positive progress. The factors that led you to seek counseling at this point of your life likely developed over a long period of time. This may include thought patterns, ways of interacting with others, unhelpful habits, and the basic foundation for your day-to-day life. As it took a long period of time for your struggles to reach this level, it will also take time and effort to properly address these in ways that can be life changing and sustainable.
After you have reached a strong foundation in treatment, you and your therapist can discuss decreasing sessions to biweekly or looking towards a successful termination process. In the initial treatment process, we encourage you to explore what successful completion would look like to you. Please try to think in specifics; are there changes in routines, ways of thinking, or ways of responding to others that would look different to you than they currently do now? These are important elements to include in your treatment plan and they give us a great foundation for a roadmap to a healthier you. This then guides us and helps keep us on track with your goals and needs to ensure you get the most out of your counseling experience.
GETTING STARTED WITH THERAPY:
YOUR SESSION BY SESSION BREAKDOWN
Prior to Your First Session: You will receive a link to your patient portal where you can complete your opening paperwork and background assessments. We ask all new clients to complete this paperwork within 48 hours of receiving this link and to read things thoroughly as you are going through them (we know lots of the info is very boring, but it is important information about how our practice runs and the ins and outs of your journey at our office). We have found that when this isn’t completed right away it can be easily forgotten, which can create delays in starting counseling. Completing your opening paperwork in a timely manner gives our office manager the opportunity to help you check your insurance benefits and give you an estimate of any out-of-pocket costs you may have before you are seen. More importantly, it gives your therapist a chance to review your information and better prepare for your intake appointment, and saves valuable time during that first appointment that is better focused on where you are at and what you need rather than on paperwork details. Please note that your intake appointment will NOT be able to be held for you if you have not completed ALL of the opening paperwork sent to you in a timely manner. This is for your best interest and has been found to be an indicator of readiness for treatment. If a cancel is necessary due to paperwork issues, you are welcome to reschedule once this has been completed.
This will be your official “intake” appointment. With most of the opening paperwork out of the way, this initial session will include meeting with your therapist to review the factors that led you into counseling and to begin to structure the counseling relationship, as well as discussing the details of informed consent in counseling.
Your therapist will explore your past/current family history, medical/mental health struggles, and current supports or stressors that are a part of your daily routine. This will allow you to set goals and objectives for treatment and to begin mapping out what you want to gain from counseling.
In your next few sessions, you will work with your therapist to explore your current coping skills and focus on enhancing them. You may identify coping strategies that have been unhealthy or discover a general lack of available resources and skills. It is very natural during this early part of treatment to be guarded and unsure about the counseling process. You are starting to share very personal information with an unknown person, and it is healthy to not dive deep into all of your dark places right off the bat. Please keep in mind that it can often take 4-5 sessions to really start feeling like you have developed a strong connection and shared understanding with your therapist. Hang in there, it gets easier. The difficult journey towards vulnerability is needed to make and sustain true changes. You do not want to drive too fast on this road, as it is important to absorb the scenery and be able to identify problematic road conditions as you are approaching them. This is one of the main reasons we encourage weekly sessions in the beginning. It allows you to develop that relationship faster and move quicker through background and assessment material. We have found that people are more likely to follow through and finish therapy successfully when they make this early commitment.
After a comfortable foundation has been laid between you and your therapist and you have been able to fully identify not only the factors leading to your current distress but the patterns and behaviors that reinforce it, this is when the real work begins. You will start to analyze and disassemble some of your defense mechanisms, which will allow you to start making significant changes in the ways you think, act, and respond to your real-life struggles. Remember, you are fully in charge of this process. Your therapist is there to guide and teach, to support and encourage, to share wisdom and strength; not to make the decisions for you or to “fix” the problem leading you into counseling. Having that as an expectation will make you frustrated and disappointed. There is a lot of “work” involved in the counseling process that happens between appointments. There are skills to learn, communication methods to practice, boundaries to set, and lifelong patterns that can be changed but do so one real action at a time.
The wind down process;
At Angelus, we believe that the ultimate goal of therapy is to get to the point where you do not need to come in anymore. This is because you genuinely feel better and have met the goals you initially started treatment for, as well as any other goals that may have developed as you moved forward. We see it as our mission to work ourselves out of a job by empowering you to manage the traumas, triggers, and daily trials that you may experience in healthy and adaptive ways. We work to give you the tools and skills to balance the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that may have been causing issues for you. Through the process of treatment, you will likely step down from a weekly frequency as you practice these new skills in your natural environment and see a corresponding decrease in presenting issues and symptoms. This can vary from every 2 weeks down to every 6 weeks depending on your comfort level and needs. This will be discussed and decided between you and your therapist and can be flexible if your needs and circumstances change.
Ending the therapy process:
As the ultimate goal of counseling is successful ending with goals met, there will be an eventual process of deciding when you have reached the best time to close. This is an accomplishment and akin to a graduation of sorts. It is to be celebrated, but we have found that for many the idea of closing can be difficult. The support you get in counseling is different from other areas of your life, and is at times hard to let go of. We will be there to help prepare you for this shift and connect you to natural supports in your life that can help meet this need in a much less formal way. Your last one or two sessions will focus on reinforcing your gains and helping you develop a follow up plan for maintaining your growth after the completion of the formal treatment process.
“TUNE UP” Sessions:
(As needed) In the counseling process, we sometimes need check–in sessions after the completion of the “official” treatment process. This is not unusual and is not a failure in treatment. It is much like the process of taking your car in for a yearly tune-up or oil change to address the normal wear and tear it acquires by driving in Western Pennsylvania weather. As you will already have established a therapeutic alliance with your counselor as well as developed tools and skills through your previous treatment process, this can simply be a waystation to keep everything aligned and running smoothly, and may only last two to three sessions.