When we establish new relationships, we often don’t negotiate what the relationship will look like or what we expect of each other from the outset.
Counseling is different.
Clients have expectations of me, and I also have expectations of clients. We can do our best work together when our expectations of each other are clear and we agree upon them.
While we discuss together what our work and relationship will look like, I like to start with a few working agreements that have been foundational to relationships in the past.
This is a space where we can take risks in saying how we feel, even if it may bring discomfort. We commit to sharing these feelings or experiences of the other kindly and clearly.
We commit to showing up consistently. Sometimes we may need to cancel or reschedule, and that’s okay, though we do our best to be consistent and keep our appointments.
This is a two-way dialogue. You’ll share a lot during therapy, and I’m not a blank slate – I’m a human. You are welcome to ask me questions, ask me about my experience, and share your needs. Therapy involves learning about relationships and our selves – our relationship is our best tool for doing so.
We both have work to do here. I am here as a guide; you are here for exploration, self-discovery, healing, or any number of reasons. I cannot do my work without your participation, and vice versa. Therapy goes beyond showing up physically, and by entering into this relationship together we are both agreeing to do the work.
This is a practice – for everyone involved. That means we both have permission – at all times – to show up imperfectly and to not have all the answers immediately, to not ‘fix’ immediately, and so on.
We show up as humans, and we need our basic needs met to do the work. Bring a snack. Bring something that makes you comfortable.