By Dr. Karen Massey, Registered Psychologist, Emergo Counselling Services
Have you ever wondered which of the more than 300 approaches to counselling are the best? Research shows that, for most clients, none of the approaches are significantly better or worse then another type. On the other hand, maybe it is beginning to matter less about the differences in approaches since there are considerable overlaps. In fact, some counsellors are beginning to optimize these commonalities to improve the results of your counselling sessions.
So what are some of the commonalities in counselling approaches? One major commonality is the expectations you bring to counselling. If you expect that counselling will help you then you are more likely to respond in a positive way. If you expect to be anxious or depressed then you likely will continue to be. Thoughts lead behaviors, it's like that saying of "If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't." Sometimes it's as simple as becoming aware of your self-defeating thinking patterns. Whoops, I've led you into counselling using one of the most traditional approaches, namely Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
One of my biases is that since we all think, and we all have a certain amount of negative, illogical thinking patterns, using at least certain aspects of CBT in therapy can be helpful.
A second commonality evolves from the trust and respect developed in the relationship between you, the client, and the counsellor. Researchers estimate that as much as 30% of a client's change is due to relationship factors such as when you receive empathy, respect and genuineness. Additionally, when you are highly motivated to work on changes during the week, and collaborate with your counsellor during counselling sessions, then you are likely to reap the most benefits from counselling. The single most important factor in your success in counselling is the quality of your participation and your emotional involvement.
Dr. Karen Massey is a Registered Psychologist, with Emergo Counselling Services 403-390-1815 (Calgary, Alberta)