The Counselling Process

Counselling is sometimes referred to as the 50-minute hour. The initial session will take approximately one hour. This is where the client first meets the therapist. It is common to arrive at least 10 minutes earlier to fill out the Intake Form and the Consent Form. Please also bring in your doctor’s referral and Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) if you have one.


The structure of the counselling sessions take on a 7-stage process as below:


Counselling structure


  1. Relationship building (initial conversation to gather information about the problem)

  2. Assessment and diagnosis (Semi-structured interview & explore circumstances, feelings, beliefs, behavior)

  3. Formulation of counselling goals (in collaboration the psychologist and client work together to come up with a common understanding of the problem/s and set goals)

  4. Intervention and problem solving (The psychologist and client work together to solve the problem, and the psychologist uses their therapeutic knowledge and expertise about mental health, but (importantly) the client has to decide what feels right in their circumstances)

  5. Review (At several stages throughout treatment the psychologist and client collaborate to review the progress to determine if treatment needs changing in any way)

  6. Completion / Termination (once treatment objectives have been reached the treatment has been completed. Sometimes clients receive Relapse Prevention sessions to ensure they have enforced learning of new skills to use in the future). 

  7. Research and evaluation (occurs post treatment where the psychologist conducts research by checking current research and by giving the client questionnaire to check if treatment was successful,  reviews any remaining questions and evaluates the treatment outcome.



The therapeutic relationship between client /psychologist is central to the success and outcome of the therapy.

Summarized below shows the importance of both the client's and psychologist's exploration of  goals, and their careful implementation into an action plan that makes sense to the client.

  1. Establish a safe, trusting environment

  2. CLARIFY: Help the person put their concern into words

   3. Active listening: finding out the client’s agenda

  • Paraphrase, summarise, reflect, interpret

  • Focus on feelings, not events

   4. Transform problem statements into goal statements

   5. Explore possible approaches to goal

   6. Help person choose one way towards goal


DEVELOP A PLAN (may involve several steps)

   7.   Make a contract to fulfill the plan (or to take the next step)

   8.   Summarise what has occurred, clarify, get verification


   9.   Get Feedback and Confirmation