How an ‘Are Kids For Me’ Counselling Session Works
I thought I would explain how coming to me as a client works, to help people to decide whether this service is for them or not.
Firstly, just to clarify my own background. I am a fully qualified counsellor and psychotherapist. I work in a counselling centre and have my own private practice where I work with a range of issues including depression, anxiety, grief and personal development topics. I am fully accredited with the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy so I abide by their code of ethics and meet their criteria for continuous professional development. “Are Kids For Me’ is a specialised service I offer which focuses on the decision to become a parent or not, and any issues associated with these choices.
Initial Contact & First Appointment
A client can contact me by email or phone call. The first thing to decide is if we will meet in person or online. I meet people for face to face appointments in Limerick City on particular days. I work with people using a secure online system on other days, so we discuss what is most appropriate and convenient for the client.
There are some forms to be filled in. If meeting in person, we do these at the first session. If its online, I will email the forms in advance. I begin the first session with every client by discussing our agreement to counselling. This outlines how it works and what each of us can expect e.g. confidentiality, appointment times and cancellation policy.
I also explain my own particular approach to counselling. There are many different possible counselling styles and this can be confusing. It is worth taking the time to do some initial research on this and see what appeals to you or what you think you would respond to the most. Always remember that it is perfectly fine to ask your counsellor about their style of work, qualifications and experience of working with any particular issue. They shouldn’t have any problem telling you this information.
I always say to clients that counselling is a strange situation to put yourself in, and it takes time to get used to. It’s important to give yourself a few sessions to settle in and get to know your counsellor. However, you need to feel safe and comfortable, so if you don’t for any reason, again it is your right to name this, to ask for something to be done differently or otherwise address it with your counsellor as part of the work. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable, do not continue out of politeness or any sense of obligation. This is your counselling session and it needs to work for you.
I then ask the client to tell me what the issues are for them and how they think counselling can help them. It is useful to explore what the client’s expectations and desired outcomes are as we can use these to monitor progress along the way. Once the paperwork is done, we officially start our counselling work. The client always decides which issues they want to discuss or what to focus on in each session.
It is very difficult to predict how many sessions a client will need. Every client is individual with their own set of circumstances and resources. Sometimes, things can click and progress quite quickly, while other times, there is more work to be done or the situation is still unfolding and it may take longer. The timing of sessions will reflect this; some clients need weekly sessions while fortnightly works well for others. Some people like, and need, to have time to process what comes up for them between sessions. I have found that this works well when working on the parenthood decision topic.
Why would I contact ‘Are Kids For Me’?
People contact the ‘Are Kids For Me’ service for a wide range of reasons. Some clients may be unsure if they want to become parents or not and this is what they want to focus on. Some clients may be quite sure of their position but need support around the impact of their decision. This could be on family members or friends who may have difficulty understanding their decision. It may also be about planning their lives now that the decision is made; having or not having children leads to different life paths and these may seem uncertain initially. I also work with couples who may have different feelings on the matter or have concerns about how either choice will impact on their relationship and lives.
How Will ‘Are Kids For Me’ Help me?
Just to clarify (as I have been asked this!), it is not my job to, and I will never, tell you whether you should have a child or not. The role of a counsellor is to be non-judgemental and objective. This means you get a break from all the noise and opinion on this subject and get to find out what you really think and feel and need for yourself. I can offer different perspectives and help you to understand why you think and feel particular things. I can ask questions to help you see what seems more or less comfortable and appropriate for you. I can offer information and resources and I can reflect back things you may not have noticed about yourself to help you explore further. I can help you to resolve the conflict between what you think you should do and what you actually want to do. The client is the only one to make a decision and only they can know what is right for them, at this point in their lives.
I hope this has helped to shed some light on the counselling process and how the ‘Are Kids For Me’ service works. Please let me know if you have any other questions about it and I will do my best to answer them.