DEFINE YOUR GOALS. Think about what you would like to get out of counseling. It might be helpful to jot down a list of events; relationship issues and feelings that you think might be contributing to your distress. Take time before each session to consider your expectations for that session. As you progress, longer-term goals may emerge along with some ideas about how to progress towards these goals.
CONSIDER HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE COUNSELING RELATIONSHIP. Since a good working relationship is essential to successful counseling you will want to experience a satisfying level of trust and understanding with your counselor. Nonetheless, self-exploration and change involve hard work and sometimes-painful feelings are stirred up in the process of healing. Therefore it may be unrealistic to expect that you will feel completely comfortable at all times with your counselor. Counselors are trained to pay close attention to these issues and will probably encourage you to discuss these feelings openly. Because counseling is a mutual enterprise, you and your counselor may also make adjustments in your working style to better meet your needs for both encouragement and support.
BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT. This is your counseling process, so be as active as you wish in deciding how to use the time. Be honest with your counselor and give him/her feedback about how you see the sessions progressing.
RECOGNIZE AND EXPRESS FEELINGS. The recognition, acceptance and expression of feelings pave the way for personal growth and change. Thoughts and feelings are equally important in working through difficulties. Your counselor will work with you to integrate your thoughts and feelings in a balanced way.
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. Growth takes time, effort and patience. All of your coping skills, behavior patterns and self-perceptions have been learned and reinforced over a long period of time. Changing what has become such an integral part of yourself is a very difficult and at times a slow process. By having patience with yourself and accepting and understanding the natural resistance we all feel toward change, you set the foundation for developing and changing in more appropriate and satisfying directions.