Phone: 343-3391 Fax: 343-2934

29 Yaldhurst Road, Sockburn, Christchurch

PO Box 6088, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch 8442

Counselling is not a luxury

Gray Crawford

Here at Petersgate Counselling Centre we hear many different excuses for why clients cancel their appointments. “I have to work”, “I can’t afford it”, “I’m on holiday”, “My cat is sick”. Whatever the stated reason, the real underlying message is that the person does not consider counselling to be that important. They shouldn’t then be surprised if they think that their counselling is not that helpful, or they do not notice any difference in their life. The person is also saying that they don’t believe that their own mental well-being is a priority.

If it were then they would make attending their scheduled counselling appointment just as much of a priority as going to work, going to a doctor, and exercising. There are many problems with randomly cancelling counselling appointments. Not only does cancelling a scheduled counselling session suggest that the person considers counselling a luxury activity, but it minimizes the perceived importance and effectiveness of that counselling. There is a saying “If you keep doing the same things, you get the same results”. Well, this is also a quote about life. And counselling is all about a person's life. If a person does not actively work to make changes in their life, they honestly cannot expect things to get better. Like dieting and exercising to lose weight a person cannot simply commit to doing this only a few days a week while still eating anything they want and not exercising and still hope to see results. It simply doesn’t work that way.

The key to counselling is being consistent. If people want to see actual, genuine, meaningful, and lasting changes in their life or relationship(s), then they must attend counselling sessions as prescribed. Skipping counselling sessions will not get them there. If they are investing their time, emotional strength and energy, and money into working with a counsellor, then why then shortchange themselves by not fully engaging in treatment. When a person goes to counselling, it is because they are seeking the assistance of a professional who is experienced and knowledgeable in working with their specific problem area. Counselling is not about just checking-in and describing what has happened in their life since their last session. Counselling is about growth, insight development, and making genuine life changes.

Counsellors at Petersgate simply cannot help a person accomplish these things if that person treats counselling as an extracurricular activity. If they genuinely seek lasting, and meaningful change, then they need to be consistent. If the person has a scheduled counselling appointment, this means that the counsellor believes the session is necessary as part of that growth and healing.  If it were not, then the counsellor would space out the client’s appointments more or tell the client that they have progressed enough where they can now try to manage themselves.