Take initiative. The best way to make progress is to engage the process. Sometimes people come into counseling with the hope or expectation that by simply being in the counseling room their life will improve. It rarely works this way. There is a reason counseling is not on infomercials. There are no magic potions.
Decide how you would like your life to be different. The clearer you can be about what your improved life would look like the better your chances are of coming up with a plan to get there.
Tell your counselor what you are looking for or needing. Your counselor can’t read your mind. He or she should be skilled in attuning to what you may be unable to articulate but in general counselors are not clairvoyant. That wasn’t part of their curriculum. If you feel that there is something that you would like to occur in your session, let your counselor know. He or she may or may not be able to accommodate your request but at least your counselor will know where you would like things to go.
Talk about what you need to talk about. If you simply need to get something off your chest or engage in a little small talk to feel comfortable that is perfectly acceptable, but you also have permission to cut right to the chase and jump in with what you think is the most important thing to discuss.
Be open. Hopefully during counseling you will be exposed to new ways of doing things that may be uncomfortable. Give these novel ideas a chance to breathe before discarding them.
Be patient. It has been said that change is a process rather than an event. Often it is only after reflecting on the past that we realize significant progress has been made. Change can take time.
Be creative. This applies both literally and figuratively. Counseling can bring inspiration, clarity and novelty. These experiences catalyze creativity. Creativity can also be applied to establishing new ways of doing things and new ways of relating with the world.
Be courageous. Change and progress can be scary. Courage enables you to take the necessary steps toward your goals.
Journal. You may have interesting insights or gain new perspectives during your time in counseling. You may think that you will remember these insights forever and maybe you will. Or maybe you won’t. Writing down the wisdom you are accumulating helps solidify your progress in your own mind and will serve as an encouraging reminder of how far you have come.
Be punctual. Arriving on time allows you to be fully focused on the session rather than feeling embarrassed about being late or angry about traffic.
Be honest. Counselors are held to a high standard of confidentiality. With a few exceptions, which your counselor can explain, what is said in the counseling room stays in the counseling room. Sort of like Vegas, minus the gambling, alcohol, and regret.
Have fun. Counseling can be serious and intense but that doesn’t it mean it can’t be fun. A sense of humor can make the most intimidating issues feel manageable.