We’re continuing this week with a highlight of what it is like to work with a counselor - specifically, me as a counselor! First, I want to speak to the courage and bravery people show in seeking out counseling. I wish we lived in a world where it was as common to say “I’m seeing my counselor for a check up” as it is to say “I’ve got a doctor’s check up appointment”. I truly have hope that we will get there, but the reality is we aren’t there yet. A big part of my goal is to normalize mental health and wellness and talking about counseling gets us closer to that goal. One thing I share with my clients is that even counselors need counseling. It’s true! Throughout my counseling career, I’ve worked with several amazing counselors who have walked me through hard, challenging seasons. I’m so grateful for those experiences because it also helps me experience counseling from the client’s perspective. It gives me more empathy for my clients and I work really hard to make sure, especially through telehealth, that my clients feel welcomed, supported, and known. So, let’s get to what it’s like to work with me!
One of the first interactions I have with clients is usually through an email or a consultation call. We briefly discuss what’s led them to look for a counselor and if that’s an area of mental health that I work with or have experience with. Sometimes, this is where I refer out because there are areas of mental health that I do specialize in - anxiety, depression, ADHD, working through trauma, and parenting-adolescent challenges. An example of mental health where I do not have experience or further training in is the treatment of things like OCD and personality disorders. In those cases, I have great colleagues that I refer people to.
Once we, the client and myself, decide this is something we can work together on, we move forward with scheduling. This may seem silly to be writing about, but what happens next is the part of counseling that isn’t so glamorous, but is still so important! When you first start to work with me, you’ll set up a client account where you’ll fill out some forms (confidentiality, cancellation policy, emergency contact, etc). You’ll also have the chance to share more with me about what’s going on and why you’re working with me as a counselor.
Before our first appointment, I review all your information that you’ve shared. This helps me be as prepared as possible heading into our appointment so that we can get right to work! The first thing we do when our appointment begins is to cover some “housekeeping items”: review confidentiality, give verbal consent for telehealth, and verify emergency contacts. For my teen clients, I always include an adult caregiver in this part of our appointment since anyone under 18 legally has to have an adult give consent for any type of mental health counseling, just like at a medical appointment. After we get through all of that, I answer any questions you may have and then I ask my favorite question of all…”So, tell me your story”.
Most of my clients say that I’m warm, welcoming, and easy to talk with. I like to infuse humor throughout our time together because I firmly believe there is healing through acknowledging both heavy feelings and lighter ones. This also helps my clients feel at ease and to know that I’m a real person, too! Ultimately, my goal is to create a safe space where clients can show up just as they are and we can wade through the messy middle parts of their journey. We’ll work on strategies and developing skills that are personalized to you and the challenges you face. Each client is different with what type of support and strategies they need so this part of the process is uniquely tailored to you!
Ultimately, the goal is to equip you with mental health and wellness skills to help you feel better, resolve the hurt, and move you closer to whole-person health. Most of my clients work with me for anywhere from 3 months to 6 months and a few choose to stay on longer. The choice is yours on when you want to move from regularly scheduled appointments to as needed visits. Mostly, I want to make sure you are leaving each session seen, heard, encouraged, and equipped to make changes in your life.
Now that you know more about what it’s like to work with me as a client, I’d love to know if you still have questions - either about counseling in general or my specific approach to counseling. You can fill out a contact form, call, or email me. I’d love to talk with you more!
I'm JoEllen and I'm so glad you're here. Thanks for visiting and let me know how I can best serve you!