Andrea Hawkins Counselling and Supervision
Abbeydale, near Gloucester

About Counselling

What Happens During the Initial Assessment Session?

This meeting is an opportunity for you to decide whether you feel comfortable working with me and for me to assess whether I am the counsellor best able to support you. During the meeting I will explain how I work, tell you about confidentiality, I will ask you to tell me a little about the issues that have made you think about receiving counselling. Of course you may have lots of questions you want to ask me, I hope you do.

You don't need to decide at this meeting, if you would like to come back for counselling with me. You may want to go away and have a think about what we have discussed. Indeed, many people like to meet with several counsellors, before making their final decision about who they want to work with.

If at the end of the session I don't feel I am best placed to support you, I will be more than happy to signpost you to other counsellors, professionals or organisations who can.

What Happens During Counselling?

If you haven't experienced counselling before, you may be wondering what to expect. In many ways it's hard for me to say exactly what will happen during our work together. Just as we are all unique as individuals, so is each counselling session unique in its own right. That said here are some things that I hope you will experience during the course of our work together, that will happen as a result of how I work as a counsellor.

  • We will work together in a warm, safe and comfortable space. Our hour together, will be your time for yourself, to take stock, draw a breath, offload and start sharing your story.

  • In this space, I will gently encourage you to contact and share with me, your thoughts, emotions and body sensations. All of these aspects will help you connect more fully with the issues you are sharing, and may help you to make fully authentic decisions and choices. This process will also help me deepen my understanding of you and your concerns.

  • Silence. You may think counselling is all about talking, it's true that the spoken word may probably take up much of our time together. But sometimes silence is invaluable to think, reflect, take stock, heal, balance, to just be. Silence can feel like a precious gift in this fast paced, noisy world in which we live and may provide you with the opportunity to contact yourself and your truth, which will help guide your way forwards.

  • You may wish to bring with you photographs, your journal, poetry, artwork, pictures, music, indeed you may wish to write, or draw, or journal during our hour together. For some this feel like a rich and creative way to work and one which aids self-expression.

  • As counselling progresses you may feel as if you are getting better acquainted with your true-self. Our true-self is the authentic part of us that often gets buried as we repeatedly shape and adapt ourselves to meet the demands and needs of others. If the shaping and adapting is not what we truly want to do, we run the risk of losing ourselves, to the point where we wake up one day and wonder who we are. Contacting your true-self can sometimes feel like peeling back the layers of an onion. It can also feel like mining or excavating, as we examine the various layers of our lives and personal histories, sifting out and discarding behaviours, thoughts and attitudes that no longer serve us well, until we reach our true-self like a nugget of gold, sometimes deeply hidden in our centre. This can feel like 'coming home' and may feel like a deeply spiritual process.

  • With time, as I become familiar with you and your story, I may notice themes, patterns of behaviour, or possibly inconsistences and blind spots in what you are telling me. I will reflect these back to you, as they can often provide useful insights, that we can explore together in more detail if you want.

  • I will invite you to share with me your childhood experiences. You may think they are of no importance to what you want to bring to counselling. However, our reactions and relationships in the here and now are often coloured by our formative years and as adults we can unwittingly get caught up in repeating unhelpful patterns that were established when we were young. Once we are aware of this, we can make choices about doing things differently.

    During my training and whilst receiving counselling myself, i began to passionately believe in the importance of the therapeutic relationship. This is the special relationship that can develop between the counsellor and the person who has come to see them. I endeavour to support the development of this relationship by greeting you open-heartedly, respectfully, non-judgementally and honestly. Within this supportive relationship you may find it possible to share experiences you have not spoken of before and reintegrate aspects of yourself that have become shut away as you bent to the demands and expectations of others. My aim is to support you on a healing journey on which you will reach a point of self-understanding and self-acceptance that will enable you to start building an authentic life and begin to realise your true potential.

    All of this is done in your time. I am here to support and facilitate, it is up to you what you tell me and when you tell me. Counselling is a process not an event!

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