Life in Old Saybrook can be so great. We’ve got it all – the shops, events, dining, beautiful views and beaches, and a wonderful community. Maybe it makes it seem like life should be perfect. After all, don’t you have all “the things?” All those gorgeous sailboats and casual bikers in Old Saybrook might suggest that everyone else’s life is super happy and perfect. It’s easy to feel alone in your struggles, whether with parenting, relationships, or your own thoughts and feelings. What I want to make clear is that you are not alone. But in a small community like this, it can feel hard to go about getting the real support and help you need.
My hope is to help you understand what it’s like to do the work of therapy or counseling so that you feel less alone, less uncertain, and less stuck… and instead begin to feel more relief, more understood, and ultimately and eventually, more joy in your life.
Perhaps you’ve done the research, made a few calls , and you’re finally set up for counseling, therapy, or life coaching with a provider in Old Saybrook or the shoreline. If not, click the links in the previous sentence to learn how! Or perhaps you’ve been mulling over a problem in your life for some time but need more information to take the plunge. I hope this article helps you get more comfortable with what its like to work alongside a professional. Read on to get a glimpse of what therapy and counseling might be like for you.
Your initial counseling or therapy session: Your initial session is a chance for you and your counselor or therapist to get to know each other better. There likely won’t be any BIG work done during this first session. But rather, your therapist or counselor is trying to get a clearer sense of your presenting issues and, importantly, your personal goals for your work together. Some counselors or therapists do formal assessments during this session. It could be a written or verbal questionnaire. Some counselors or therapists, including me, have clients fill out an intake survey before our first session. This gives me a better idea of their hopes ahead of time and allows us to dive in and get more accomplished in the first session. At the start of your first session your therapist should review basic housekeeping like confidentiality and cancellation policies, and should give you ample opportunity to ask any and all questions.
Logistically, you and your therapist will likely be sitting on two comfortable couches or chairs facing each other. In addition to this style, I also walk outside with my clients, and meet with clients by video. Make yourself as comfortable as possible during your session! It’s important!
What to expect along the way: What I like to say about therapy and counseling is that it’s ideally and ultimately a three-part process:
First, you have symptom relief because you’re finally letting out what you’ve been holding in or struggling to find real support around. You’ve made it to a secure and confidential space to release the stuff that’s been bogging you down. Hopefully, you begin to feel a basic sense of better right away just by letting it out in a non-judgmental, safe space.
Second, with your therapist or counselor you begin to answer the question: Why? Why did this happen? What are the contributing factors? You start to make real connections, identify patterns, and tackle the origin of your problems. Your therapist or counselor does this all day, every day, day in and day out for years. They are professionals at identifying the themes in your life that contribute to whatever problems you’re facing. Then, they should be helping you get a deep understanding of what it is they’re observing. Most importantly, they will work together with you to help you develop new coping skills or ways of handling things that serve you better.
Third, and finally: You ideally become your own therapist. I don’t want my therapy clients in my chair forever. Rather, I want them to develop lasting skills and insight to go out and manage their world in a new and better way! The goal of therapy is ultimately to end therapy in a place that’s different from where you started. You are now able to navigate those challenges, feelings, relationships and thoughts on your own in a way you couldn’t before. Good therapy changes the way you understand yourself, your world, and ultimately changes how what flows into you (thoughts, feelings, experiences) flows back out of you.
Ultimately, therapy and counseling should be goal oriented. Your therapist or counselor is ideally following a treatment plan they’ve developed after your first meeting to help serve as a guide to meet your goals.
Feedback and assessment: Speaking of goals, the goals you set at the start of therapy should serve as a guide for your whole experience. Know that the goals of therapy CAN change. Sometimes clients come in my office for one problem, but it really ends up being an entirely different one that needs the work. This is something that’s openly discussed and negotiated between my clients and me – you should always know what you’re working on and WHY you’re working on it!
Every month or two, your therapist should hopefully be assessing your progress. I usually ask my clients something like, “how were you feeling when you first came in?” and have them reflect on what things were like for them when they called me to schedule their initial session. Then I ask, “how are you feeling now?” most often clients report various degrees of progress and sometimes they report that they are still struggling; there is NO right answer to this question, I only care to know the client’s true experience so I can best meet their needs. Then I often ask, “what else do you need to do/work on/attend to in order to feel you’ve done the work you need to do?” This gives me a sense of ongoing areas that need attention, or that feel unresolved.
Assessment and feedback is so important. Your relationship with your therapist or counselor is ideally a collaborative relationship that is built on mutual trust and honesty. It is a great example of what a supportive, nurturing, and safe but truthful relationship should be like.
I hope that my articles are helping you find an awesome counselor, therapist, or other provider to meet your needs and goals. If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to call me at (860) 339-6515 for your complimentary initial consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening and help direct you to the right person. If you are looking for help with anxiety, marriage, divorce, disordered eating, and other specialized women’s issues, you can read more here about how I help women overcome their barriers and begin to live their best life.
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is a women's therapist and counselor, providing individual counseling in Old Saybrook, CT and online in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all." Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Follow Lauren on Facebook, and call
(860) 339-6515 to schedule your free initial consultation.