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This page is a set of self-help articles aimed at helping people develop new skills and approaches to life as a supplement to individual counseling. The current list of articles can be found here.

How Counseling Works

Counseling, also called psychotherapy, is a personal learning process aimed at helping you reach your goals fro self-improvement. Usually people enter counseling when they are struggling with something (depression, anxiety, relationships/family problems, substance use, work/school difficulties, etc), although people also seek counseling as a way to improve their lives even if they are not having major struggles.

Counseling has a lot of research support, and is effective for a large majority of people. There are a few key things that can help it be effective for you.

1. Know what you want
Having goals for counseling helps the therapist deliver what you are wanting. The clearer you can be about your goals, the easier it is for your counselor to help you get there. The following prompts are just a few ways of constructing counseling goals (overall and for each session):

I want to learn how to…
I want to get better at…
I want to feel…
I want to be more…
I want to understand…
I want to be able to…

2. Be invested in the process
Clients that get the most benefit from counseling are usually the most invested; they spend time during the week thinking about the previous session, trying the things that came up during it, planning for the next one, and openly tell their counselor what their preferences are. No level of counselor skill and experience can make up for this if it is not there.

3. Like your counselor
One of the most important findings in counseling research is that people who like, trust, and get along well with their counselor have better outcomes. If you aren’t vibing with your counselor, it’s a good idea to let them know this and see if any changes can be made. Usually when something isn’t working in the relationship, it’s that both people are not on the same page with what the goals are. If it’s something more about personality match, then it may be a good idea to talk to your counselor and see if someone else might be a better fit for you.