Counseling Based on Your Needs Today

When you walk in my door, maybe you like the idea of the once a week structure, and that’s just right for you. Or it may be that you’re looking for something a bit different than a once a week meeting. Or it may be that you really thrive in sessions that have movement — maybe we walk the waterfront together, or sit cross-legged on my floor and toss a ball back and forth as we talk. One time, a teen and I sat together while both on our computers, doing IM. It was the easiest way for her to share with me something deeply important. The fact that we were in the room sitting together, but that she could have the distance of typing and seeing my responses in typing — made it possible for her to speak what had, up until then, been unspeakable.

And beyond just changing what we do in session — how we talk, how we move, where we sit, how we work with stuff — we can also make changes to how much time we spend together and how frequently. Here are a couple examples of when work like that can be helpful:

Between-session support and coaching when it feels like everything is falling apart

A client came to me when I was first getting started in my practice, and his situation was intense. He felt like his life was going downhill quickly, like he couldn’t get a grip. Like he had to get a grip, but didn’t know how. He was flying into rages, sometimes mad at himself and sometimes mad at the world. He and I set up meetings for once a week, and also scheduled phone calls so he could keep contact, get coaching when it felt like his world was falling apart, and so he could move forward on the goals of daily life that felt impossible without a bit of support. Those coaching calls were never long, but they made a big difference for him.

Intensive counseling several times a week when you want or need to move forward FAST

Another client came to me with a deadline: She HAD to get to work in just a few weeks, and her symptoms were making it hard for her to even function through a day at home. She couldn’t imagine what she would do once it was time to work all day. She was super nervous, couldn’t think straight much of the time, was having sleepless nights, and felt both exhausted and wired during the day. We met every day for a week, then 3 days the next week, and the next week, she was ready to return to work, and we did weekly sessions for awhile, and now she schedules just occasionally to check in or work on something focused.

Field Trips! Going together to have the experience that’s been hard for you

A client of mine who was very nervous in public saw some big changes after we walked together, downtown, and were able to see, right in the moment, where she felt free and at ease with people, and where she felt herself freezing up.  One of my clients had talked with me about her eating issues at some length, but one session of eating together made the problem she’d been having disappear forever. That’s because doing things is different from talking about them, and doing anxiety-provoking things  with someone who cares, is paying attention, and can draw out/remark on key things,  can change the experience altogether. (This, of course, is something I do only with clients’ permission and buy-in.)

Double sessions to support more in-depth work with one theme

Another client of mine had been working with me for awhile, and we found that we were getting into a routine with our weekly sessions: She’d come and check in, we’d start to land on something pretty important, and we’d get some work done on it and she’d wait until the next week, when we’d do it all over again. The thing was, the checking in and the wrapping up sometimes take just as much time as the part of the session where we really focus and dig into one topic. And she also no longer felt a need for weekly support. What she did want was to go deeper, to stay with an important topic for longer to reach more significant transformation. We moved to meeting every other week for 2 hour sessions.

Counseling customized to your needs, that changes as you change

The point is, the kind of work I do varies. Sometimes, your needs even vary from week to week. Most of my clients at least start out with the typical weekly session — but your needs and wants will evolve as time goes on, and that’s great! Your counseling should evolve as you evolve.

So we’ll discuss the structure of meetings that works best for you. Some people know right away with me that they want to work together a lot in the beginning phase. The up front investment usually means that they need fewer total sessions, because therapy 3 times a week seems to have bigger impact than the impact of one session multiplied by 3.

Some people want the weekly structure with some contact in between. Some find that the combination of working with me individually and attending my women’s group is synergistic and moves their healing forward faster than either one would do alone.

Wherever you are, we’ll work something out that’s right for you. And if your needs change, we’ll pay attention and discover together what it takes to keep the momentum going. That amount that’s not too much, not too little, not too hot, not too cold…..It’s wonderful to find that “Just right” combo. Come on in, and let’s find out what that combo is for you!

Author: Michaela Lonning

I'm a counselor in Corvallis, Oregon, and I work mostly with intelligent and sensitive people who are struggling with a sense of connection to themselves or in their relationships. Near Corvallis? Come see me. Not near Corvallis? I work with clients around the world via Skype: Come see me.

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