Your First Session
In your first session, I will suggest a way in which we can work together. There is no need to start talking straight away unless you want to as I find that me talking first of all usually helps you to settle into the first session in a more relaxed way. I will explain how I work and what we can expect from each other. Then I usually start by asking you what brought you here and what you would like to gain from counselling.
I may find that I need to listen to your story in the first session, so I may not talk much while processing and thinking about the directions we can take. I will discuss these with you in the following session. You may talk a lot in the first session if you need to tell me everything, or you may not want to talk that much. That's ok. We take it at your pace. I will be making notes on a big page of A3 that I can, with your permission, Whatsapp or email a picture of to you afterwards. This way we both remember what was said, and you can see any extra notes I make. This allows you to talk freely without thinking that you have to remember what was discussed and for you to have a look at the notes, if you so wish, during the week afterwards. My notes are always kept safely in a locked filing cabinet.
''This was a very positive experience for me that restored my faith in verbal therapy after struggling to get anywhere with a previous therapist. You brought the right balance of practical tools and gentle exploration of issues so that I always felt supported and never overwhelmed. Elise gave me two things - perspective and practical tools. I now have knowledge and experience of a number of strategies for coping with stress: mindfulness and breathing exercises like the body scan and 4-7-8 breathing, shaking exercises to calm the nervous system, getting the front part of the brain back online by verbalising and engaging logic. I also have more self-awareness through defusion (stepping back from what I am experiencing), awareness of my values and how they affect my actions, and the difference between self-compassion and self-esteem.''
''Elise was phenomenal right from the beginning. She listened to me and understood me. I have made more progress than I ever thought would be possible for me''
'' I want you to write down how brilliant you have been! You have to write that down. You have helped me so so much. Honestly, without you, I don’t think I would even be here ‘cos I was in such a hard place, I have come out the other side. You have helped me so much. You should get a gold star. You have sent me all these things that follow up the sessions, I have used this to look at through the week, I was never without nothing. I just feel completely….I feel like I am more in control now. You sent me other things as well, and you have been so comfortable to talk to. Some people are hard to talk to, but once I start talking to you it just flows. And another thing, you have helped me with my faith, I feel more connected, more into it, I feel like I’ve opened my arms more to it. I was so angry before, and now I embrace things more.''
''It’s been nice to have someone to talk to, and good to have an outsider’s perspective. It’s given me an hour each week where I can talk about how I’m feeling and given me tools to do something about it. On how I’m feeling and how things that have happened might affect me – that I can sort of try help mitigate things, maybe try and take a break before I react to anything. I use my grounding techniques and monitor how I’m feeling so that I can tell when I’m feeling worse, so that if anything happens, I can acknowledge that to myself. I keep it in mind, so if anything happens to make me feel worse, I ask myself the three questions (‘is it true, any alternatives, how can I test it out?’) Any negative thoughts that I may be feeling is not caused by anybody else, it’s just that when I feel sad, it’s just that I feel sad. I know that for me, I can go from -4 or -5 for sadness to +7 in happiness. I am awaiting an Autistic Spectrum Assessment and I feel I have more insight into myself now.''
''I was so sceptical, I never thought it would work for me. I tell other people now to get some help, I always said before ‘it’s not for me’. I always recommend it to people now after this. I have spoken about things that I never told others, but now I can open up to my husband and other people as there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I told them how bad I was in January, suicidal, and they were shocked, but I know if ever I feel like that again, I don’t have to fix myself, I can go to counselling.''
''I have gained: New resources, New Practices and New Concepts / ways of looking at (observing + assessing + regarding) my feelings and mind. The above helped me to better overcome and work through my bad mood swings and particularly bad habits like catastrophising, paranoia and giving into these and reaching hopelessness. I now feel despair and hopelessness and extreme sadness far less, if at all. I am much more positive. While I still have mood swings and low points, these are far less intense and are more manageable. I also don’t become as destructive and paranoid because I can better assess my feelings and learn that I am more than my feelings. I also have resources to help me test the reality of my feelings in the world.
I communicate better with my partners and don’t put on false masks with them due to fear of rejection. I know that I am loved, and my self-esteem is better. I feel less worthless. I hope to build on these mental resources in the future and continue to apply the practices to help further improve my mental wellbeing and life. Counselling was so positive. The advice, interpretations, and offered solutions feel relevant to me, my brain, and my life setup. Not only do I feel better and more in control, but the methods are improving my relationships with my loved ones.''
''Wrth siarad am bethau a oedd yn gwneud i mi deimlo dan straen, fe wnaeth Elise fy helpu i ystyried penderfyniadau o wahanol safbwyntiau, yn aml yn fy helpu i weithio trwy benderfyniadau ac roedd bob amser yn amyneddgar ac yn sylwgar. Byddai Elise yn fy helpu i rannu tasgau llethol yn dasgau llai, a thrwy siarad drwy bob cam, helpodd Elise fi i ddiffinio llwybr clir o sut roeddwn i’n mynd i fynd i’r afael â heriau penodol – boed yn dasgau gwaith, yn deimladau o bryder, neu’n gweithio trwy ac ymarfer sgyrsiau anodd. Roeddwn i’n teimlo’n gyfforddus iawn yn siarad ag Elise ac fe wnaeth y sesiynau i mi sylweddoli fy nhueddiadau fy hun, a meddwl sut y gallaf helpu i sefydlu fy hun yn y dyfodol i beidio â theimlo cymaint o ofn am wneud pethau.
Roedd Elise yn wych am gynnig offer lleddfu pryder i roi cynnig arnynt gyda’n gilydd yn ystod y sesiwn, yn ogystal ag anfon adnoddau a dolenni defnyddiol o ymarferion i mi eu hymarfer yn fy amser fy hun. Roeddwn yn teimlo bod rhywun yn gwrando arnaf ac yn teimlo bod Elise wedi bod yn ofalus i ddod i adnabod fi dros amser a dysgu am elfennau o fy mywyd, y byddai'n gwirio i mewn iddynt, hyd yn oed pe bai wedi bod ychydig wythnosau rhwng sesiynau, a oedd yn gwneud i mi deimlo bod rhywun yn clywed. Mae gan Elise ddull tyner a charedig iawn ac roedd yn hawdd iawn cyd-dynnu a theimlo’n gyfforddus gyda hi, hyd yn oed pan oeddem yn cael sesiynau ar-lein’' (A.B.)