Written by Kajsa Tuggey
Ms. Tuggey is a school counselor UWC ISAK Japan.
Occasionally when students come to see me for counselling, one of the first questions they ask is “What do I have to do in counselling?” For many students it is the first time they have sought out help in this format, and they don’t quite know what to expect. This can be a big step for some individuals; moving out of their comfort zone and often times making themselves vulnerable in front of another person. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to share with you what a counselling session may look like, and some of what you may expect.
Counselling occurs in a room that is easy for students to access, but that is private and set up in a way to enhance the feeling of safety and comfort. There is a comfortable sofa, some squishy toys available for those who like to fidget, and a rug for the feet to stay warm. Small details, but all these help to provide an atmosphere where students feel able to open up and share their thoughts and feelings.
When it comes to the actual counselling, there is nothing you ‘have to’ do. Counselling provides a space where individuals can feel heard and supported in whatever situation they are experiencing. Often people associate counselling with talking, and feel uneasy if they don’t know what to say or if there is a period of silence. However, a shared silence can be just as powerful and meaningful a communicator as dialog. Sometimes we need some time to process what we are feeling, and in those moments words are not necessary. An internal reflection is taking place, and counselling can provide a space for that to happen; our lives are full of stimuli competing for our attention, and often we don’t often allow ourselves the time to sit in silence and reflect.
Counselling is also a place where there is no judgement, and individuals are encouraged to be themselves. This is an important component for feeling like you’ve been heard. It enables empathy to be felt, and even though the counsellor may not know exactly what you are feeling, there is still a sense of understanding and acceptance, vital to feeling supported.
More specifically, during a counselling session with me, I always try to empower the individual with tools that they can go and use outside of our session. These can be tools to help gain awareness of feelings, to soothe anxiety, or feel more grounded and able to face whatever comes up. I believe providing tools to people is one of the best ways to help them help themselves, building their self confidence in knowing that they can handle any situation they may face.
Hopefully this has given you a little insight about what to expect from a counselling session, and it is no longer an unknown, mysterious place! Anyone is welcome in, anytime!