Coming to Therapy – What to Expect From Your First Psychotherapy Session.

Coming to Therapy – What to Expect From Your First Psychotherapy Session.

I wanted to write a short blog article to help potential clients feel reassured about what to expect in their first counselling & psychotherapy appointment for face to face and online therapy. Most new clients tell me that they have thought about coming to therapy for a long time, in many cases years, so I hope that this will help to demystify the concept of coming to therapy for the first time. Personally speaking I want clients to have a positive experience from their first session so that it helps normalise the idea of being in-therapy. If you have been thinking of starting therapy, don’t waste any more time, just go for it.

Many people consider therapy for between six months to two years before they make an appointment with me. The lead up to your first session can feel a bit daunting and nerve racking, the fear of the unknown and not really knowing what to expect but don’t worry too much. How do I start, what do I say, what will they think are common thoughts people can have first time around. Remember, every single therapist had first session nerves just like you! It’s really reassuring to know that your therapist will guide and lead you though your sessions every time, particularly your first session.

I like to break my sessions down into three parts which are an opening, middle and closing section. We know how difficult the first steps can be and meet new clients every day so an important part of our role as a therapist is to make you feel at ease and comfortable during each and every session.

What Should I Expect From My First Therapy Session

Most therapists will follow a similar process in the first session so this article outlines the process that I like to follow myself. The first session is very much an informal relaxed session of getting to know each other and a discussion around how we can both work together therapeutically with your particular presenting issue. What you can definitely expect to get from your first session is a safe supportive space to start talking about what ever it is you are going through. Below is a road-map of how I like to work through the first sessions.

1.Consultation Form. You will be asked to provide basic information such as medical conditions, GP details and contact details of a next of kin in the event of an emergency.

2. Introductions. I will introduce myself and my practice and what to expect from the first session to help put you at ease. Personally I take notes during sessions which I use as as a visual tool in therapy with my clients.

3. Explaining The Therapist Client Confidentiality Agreement. I will explain to you information about the our confidentially agreement and also the limitations of confidentiality and answer any questions you may have.

4.  Sharing. This first session is really a safe space for you to talk about everything that brings you to therapy. I like to call it a session to just offload all your problems and worries. It can take some time to get used to taking about yourself but you will be amazed how quickly you can adjust and have plenty to talk about.

5. Identifying Problems. By the end of the session we will discuss some areas to focus on in therapy over the coming sessions and also discuss how many sessions to start off with. You may be asked to complete an assessment during the first session which will also help us narrow down some areas to focus on.

6. Closing The Session. I will spend five to ten minutes closing the first session and checking in with you to see how you are feeling or any thoughts and questions you might have. Many people are feeling much more relaxed as we come to the end of the first session and most report feeling relieved, happy, motivated that it is over after thinking about it for some time.

It is important to be realistic and not to expect to much from your first session. I think that many people expect to have life changing experiences in therapy and that they will walk out the door feeling fixed or better after just one hour. The reality is that most of the changes happen for the patient between sessions as they learn to practice what has been discussed in therapy and start to focus and reflect more on themselves. I regularly hear clients say ‘I tried therapy before and it did not work‘ and when we explore this more early in therapy, they may have attended just a handful of sessions, sometimes just one and had unrealistic expectations of the outcome. Therapy is where you come to talk about change, the next part is to actively learn how to change outside of sessions.

I can reassure you that your second session will feel easier to attend, as you know where you are going and what to expect. Ongoing sessions will feel like they have a nice natural comfortable flow as we get to know each other more and develop a relationship overtime. Therapy is a process of change, healing and personal insight. It is also learning to be vulnerable and open with another human being and using that connection with your therapist to help you to accept yourself, change and grow. All of which takes time.

 

Orlagh Gahan is a qualified IACP Counsellor & Psychotherapist and Complementary Health Therapist in private practice in Co. Kildare, Ireland. She works with a range of clients and specialists in stress management, recovery, sex therapy, fertility and pregnancy. She provides both face to face private therapy and online therapy via SKYPE which can be booked online. You can find out more at www.orlaghgahan.ie or contact me at info@orlaghgahan.ie 

Promoting Wellness – Positive Coping Techniques for Everyday Stress

Promoting Wellness – Positive Coping Techniques for Everyday Stress

Wellness is defined as feeling comfortable, happy and healthy. A state of being which most of us would like to achieve in our everyday life without having to think to much about it. But everyday life can be hectic and often we don’t get a moment to stop and take stock until the weekend or a break away. Burnout can happen as a result of long-term physical, mental or emotional stress which is not managed well. The healthier you feel in your mind and body the better you are able to cope with all the symptoms of stress and a busy lifestyle. In fact, the more positive you feel, the more motivated you will be to focus on your health and improving your overall quality of life. It is important to be proactive and be able to identify and manage stress in a healthy way that’s best for you.

Here are some simple positive coping techniques for everyday wellness which can also help anyone who is recovering from stress, anxiety and burnout or feeling overwhelmed.

  • Practice 2 minute grounding exercise during times of stress by focusing on your breathing and senses, what you can feel, hear, smell and touch.
  • Practice mindfulness by focusing on the present day and what you can control.
  • Embrace self-care by resting, relaxing, looking after your self, having fun and laughing.
  • Love your body and enjoy taking care of yourself.
  • Exercise regularly to feel good, release endorphins and burn off adrenaline.
  • Stop catastrophic thinking and ruminating about worst case scenarios.
  • Identify your negative though processes and focus on shifting to positive thoughts.
  • Stop being critical of yourself and others and focus on strengths.
  • Get plenty of undisturbed sleep approx. 6 to 8 hours to help the body heal.
  • Avoid negative influences which are unnecessary such as news, dramatic TV shows etc.
  • Practice positive self-talk and affirmations.
  • Find ways to feel inspired and empowered through reading, audio-books, groups, talks, music, workshops, hobbies, events.
  • Short breathing exercises through the day during times of stress can help improve mental clarity, oxygenate the body and relax muscles through the body.
  • Learn to say ‘NO‘ to others or ‘Can I come back to you on that?‘ when you have had time to think and start putting yourself first.
  • Ask for support and help from others and learn to accept help when offered.
  • Talk to your partner, family and friends about the things that bother you.
  • Surround yourself with positive loving people.
  • Let go of trying to control others or wasting energy on what they may be thinking or feeling.
  • Treat yourself from time to time, you are worth it.
  • Use commuting as an opportunity to rest, listening to audio-book, podcasts you enjoy or reading a book.
  • Leave work at work and stick to clear working hours.
  • Turn off work related phones, emails and devices early in the evening so it does not infringe on home life and valuable relationships.
  • Write lists of things that are on your mind or that you need to get done.
  • Let yourself feel what ever you are feeling rather than trying to suppress emotions, uncomfortable feelings will pass.
  • Most importantly find ways to cope which work for you.

 

 

Orlagh Gahan is a qualified accredited Psychotherapist and Complementary Health Therapist in private practice in Kildare, Ireland. She provides a range of therapies for physical, mental and emotional health. You can find out more or book an appointment online at www.orlaghgahan.ie 

Simple Everyday Tips to Help You Feel Calmer

Simple Everyday Tips to Help You Feel Calmer

Stress is a natural part of life. These days, it can be difficult to find a quiet moment to help your body and mind switch off and relax. The problem is that if you are feeling wound up, then it takes time to wind down again. Feeling calmer and relaxed can take time and practice if you have a very busy lifestyle. Many people do not realise how tense they are actually feeling until they try to relax. These simple everyday ideas can help you to feel calmer more often so that you can cope better with stress and feel more focused.

1. Switch coffee and tea for relaxing herbal teas such as Chamomile tea and Bed Time tea.
2. Put a few drops of Lavender or Chamomile essential oils into an oil burner which promote relaxation.
3. Enjoy watching your favorite film.
4. Get engrossed in an inspiring or motivating book.
5. Leave the phone at home, go outside and take a walk somewhere quiet in nature.
6. Have a relaxing massage or reflexology treatment.
7. Lie down in a quite space and listen to relaxation music or a meditation for 30 minutes.
8. Take some quiet time to yourself. Go buy a coffee, walk around a museum, park or a book store and give yourself space to think clearly or not think at all.
9. Practice breathing deeply and have a good stretch in the fresh air or relaxing on your bed.
10. Have fun and laugh often – do things that make you feel good about yourself.
11. Take a cleansing refreshing swim or walk by the sea.
12. Keep a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings at the end of the day.

Find out what works for you, everybody is different. Remember, practice makes perfect.

 

Orlagh Gahan is a Complementary Health Therapist and Psychotherapist based in Co. Kildare, Ireland. She provides a range of therapies for physical, mental and emotional health. To find out more visit www.orlaghgahan.ie

 

 

Can Regular Exercise Lead To A Better Sex Life?

Recently I spoke with Stellar Magazine about the connection between exercising, fitness and sex which can have a positive ripple effect on intimacy and relationships.

Stellar.ie | Can Regular Exercise Lead To A Better Sex Life? Here’s What The Experts Say..

You’ve probably heard about all of the health benefits of regular exercising: reduced risk of heart problems, type 2 diabetes and obesity, to name a few. But exercise can have huge benefits to another aspect of your life – your sex drive.

Sex itself is an intense physical exercise that tests your endurance and stamina. And while doing regular exercise can be a bit of chore, if it were more likely to enhance your sex life and lead to better orgasms, would you be more inclined to do it?

We spoke to sex psychotherapist Orlagh Gahan to find out how exactly exercise can impact your life in the bedroom.

There is no doubt that exercise, fitness and overall levels of stress are right up there on top of the list of things which affect our sex drive which often dips or disappears when we are experiencing periods of stress. Exercise helps to reduces stress as the brain releases feel good chemicals and hormones into the body, the same in-fact as during sex, orgasms or when we receive hugs.

“Regular exercise which gets our blood pumping means we feel fitter, more positive and motivated all round,” she said. She explains that exercise can have such a huge impact on your sex life as it gets you out of you head and reduces stress:

Continue reading this article at STELLAR.IE Can-regular-exercise-lead-to-a-better-sex-life-heres-what-the-experts-say.

The Joy of Massage Therapy During Pregnancy

The Joy of Massage Therapy During Pregnancy

Complementary health therapies such as pregnancy massage therapy and maternity reflexology can be wonderful during pregnancy and are often a welcome relief from many pregnancy symptoms and the life changes which come with pregnancy. In fact, you may never appreciate lying down and being pampered with a massage as much as you do during pregnancy, it truly feels incredible.

Pregnant women have been honoured and celebrated throughout history with ceremonies and rituals which often included touch, bathing, nurturing and massage. In many cultures around the world, abdominal massage has been prevalent to help sooth mother and baby, while also helping to ensure the correct positioning of the baby. These days, modern women are too busy to indulge in rituals and ceremonies which makes pregnancy massage even more inviting.

Massage therapy has many health benefits for both mother and baby particularly in the third trimester when her body is working overtime as baby piles on the pounds. Many women are often still working and managing family life with very little time for relaxation or to put their feet up for an hour. Pregnancy can be demanding on the body and massage therapy helps to counteract those slight physical symptoms which build up during the 40 week rollercoaster. Regular treatments can help with muscle pain, aching legs and fatigue while also promoting a strong sense of relaxation.

Touch is such a powerful and under-estimated sense, most women find the emotional benefits far out-weigh the physical benefits when it comes to maternity massage.”

Therapy also provides an opportunity for mother to switch off from the outside world for just a brief moment in time to connect with her baby. Take some time to experience the joy of massage therapy during your pregnancy journey.

Orlagh Gahan is a Reflexologist and Massage Therapist who provides a range of specialist therapies for health, pregnancy and fertility in Naas, Co, Kildare.

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Don’t Let S.A.D Get You Down This Winter

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Don’t Let S.A.D Get You Down This Winter

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) is a seasonal curse for many Irish people which is experienced during the late autumn and winter months when the days become shorter. It is understood that some factors which may lead to the disorder are a reduced level of daylight which interrupts the body’s biological clock and normal functioning. There is also a change in serotonin and melatonin levels, the brain chemicals which affects our mood and sleep patterns. S.A.D is a type of depression with many similar symptoms such as feeling low, tiredness, sadness, oversleeping, low energy, difficulty concentrating and hypersensitivity. It was traditionally referred to as the winter blues or winter depression and suffers often display hibernation like characteristics.

Finding what works for you to reduce your symptoms is important as there is no one single cure, rather a combination of many little daily remedies…

According to a survey in 2007, around 20% of Irish people are effected by Season Affective Disorder with women more prone than men. For someone who starts to experience low mood and negative feelings during the winter, it can be relief to understand that there is a reason for their change in mood which may in fact be associated with the shorter winter days.

Simple Ways of Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Light therapy is a way of treating seasonal affective disorder using exposure to artificial light.
  • Talk therapies such as Psychotherapy can provide you with professional emotional support and understanding.
  • Managing and reducing stress is a useful preventative measure.
  • Practicing self-care by actively looking after your emotional and physical health and being sensitive to your own needs.
  • Holistic Therapies such as Reflexology, Massage and Reiki can help boost energy levels and promote relaxation.
  • Get as much sunlight or daylight as possible by spending time outdoors.
  • Daily regular exercise helps promote a healthy mind and body.
  • Sleep is important as it helps the body to recuperate if you are suffering from low energy.
  • Find the beauty in winter and connect with the positive aspects of wintertime.
  • Enjoy outdoor activities which are not overly weather dependent that you can enjoy all year round such as hill walking or running.
  • Keep a daily routine and make plans throughout the winter which you can look forward to.
  • Avoid stimulants and any mood altering substances such as alcohol can help to stabilise your mood.
  • Socialise with family and friends and surround yourself with positive people.
  • Nutritionists suggest that Vitamin D supplements and Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for S.A.D.
  • Get to know and respect your own body and find what works for you each winter.
  • Talking to your loved ones and family about your symptoms of S.A.D can ensure that you receive ongoing emotional support and reassurance.
  • Medications prescribed by a G.P are sometimes used to treat symptoms.
  • Getting away for winter holidays in bright warm sunny destinations during the winter period can help significantly lift and relieve symptoms.

Prevention is better than cure but for most suffers, managing S.A.D is far more realistic than preventive cures. You might find it useful to be mindful and sensitive to changes in your mood coming into the autumn/winter months. Finding what works for you to reduce your symptoms is important as there is no one single cure, rather a combination of many little daily remedies and I guarantee you, every single one counts. Keep reminding yourself that S.A.D is seasonal and symptoms will eventually fade as the beautiful crisp brighter spring days arrive. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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