1) Usually one of the first steps in counselling is to identify some goals to work towards together, and build a counselling 'road-map' to meet those goals. These are typically positive changes that you would like to see in your life and can act as markers along the journey to let us know we're on the right track.
2) After we have a sense of what the issues to address are, we can work together to create stability by increasing self-awareness and building inner resources that help you feel safe, understood, empowered, and supported, amidst difficulties situations and/or intense emotions. This is where your self-care 'tool box' and powers of mindfulness, emotion regulation, grounding, and supporting a healthy nervous system are cultivated.
3) Once you feel ready, we can slowly move from surface symptoms to the core root, or wound(s), where challenges arise from. What we know from mental health research and experience is that deeper experiences of unresolved trauma and old wounds can often manifest as a number of different issues, ranging from relationship difficulties, physical pain, emotional dis-regulation, anxiety and/or depression, and other challenges. Usually this phase of therapy involves getting to know, and then shifting patterns, beliefs, and core wounds that keep you feeling stuck in your life. When we're able to address these core wounds, many other difficulties tend to unwind and change, too. This part of counselling can usually feel like the 'hard work' or heavy lifting of therapy, and yet this is where profound healing and transformation occurs. Some people choose to end counselling after this stage, while others want to continue to support self-discovery and growth.
4) This next stage is fun! At this point, you'll likely have a good sense of increased freedom, empowerment, energy, and peace within yourself. From here we can focus on integrating qualities that you would like to more fully embody (such as compassion, love, authenticity, strength, and spirituality), and help you walk through life in a meaningful, joyful, contented, and purposeful way. Counselling isn't just about resolving difficulties, but also about cultivating a beautiful and happy life.
*Like all processes of change and growth, therapy is not linear. But hopefully, these phases gives you a sense of what counselling can generally look like.