Here’s my advice:
It helps if you come with goals in mind.
But don’t worry if you’re not completely sure what you need. This is something you can talk to your counsellor about.
Remember that counselling is deeply subjective.
Counsellors are people too and they’re not all the same. If possible, don’t be afraid to “shop around”, meeting with new people until you find the right fit.
Intimacy is difficult but rewarding.
It may take some time to open up, but it’s so important that you do. Counselling is only effective if you willing to talk about the hard stuff openly and honestly. After a couple sessions, if you don’t at least start to feel more comfortable, it’s a sign you should probably look for a new counsellor (see #2).
Remember that progress is not linear. You will have good days and bad days and it doesn’t mean you aren’t improving.
Lower your expectations.
Counselling doesn’t fix everything. Remember that talking in itself can be therapeutic. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re feeling until we hear it put into words. Our perspective shapes our experience and so working to understand our point of view and the ways in which we frame our experiences is so important. The opportunity to make sense of our own subjective experiences with someone unbiased is something we could all benefit from.
Know that it’s not always about curing, it can also be about managing.
I have long since accepted my mental illnesses as chronic. I don’t go to therapy expecting my problems to go away. However, most days I leave my appointments better equipped to deal with them.
Counselling is often difficult to access, whether it be as a result of extended wait lists or the price of the service itself. As Ryerson students, counselling services are included in our tuition. If you’re struggling, this is me encouraging you to get help early and take advantage of Ryerson’s mental health resources. This includes both individual and group counselling in relation to a variety of personal concerns and crisis situations including anxiety, transitions, depression, eating concerns, trauma and abuse, body image and identity to name a few. All appointments are booked through the CSDC reception (416-979-5195 Room JOR 07C).