It's Complicated

What happens in a counselling session?

What happens in a session very much depends on the approach of the counsellor and the style of therapy. In other words, there isn’t really a typical counselling session. Your counsellor will be trained in listening and in asking questions to make you reflect around certain themes, and of course in providing a safe environment in which to explore your issues. With most types of therapy you are free to discuss what you wish, from everyday events, dilemmas, feelings, and thoughts, to regrets, aspirations, memories and dreams.

Often, shorter-term forms of therapy, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and solution-focused therapy, can be more structured and provide practical exercises to help you understand your thoughts and actions. Psychodynamic therapies and psychoanalysis explore how childhood experiences and trauma affect patterns of behaviors today. By a process that often also includes working with the unconscious (such as dreams, fantasy, play) a person can help to gain access to their feeling life as well as finding an ethical compass in life. This process is often longer and can involve a year of work or more.

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The Therapy Talk Podcast

With co-founder and clinical psychologist Johanne Schwensen