Is Counselling for Me?
There are countless reasons why people don't seek counselling even when it might be really helpful. Here are just a few reasons I thought of. Are any of these stopping you?
"Only weak people have counselling."
Quite the opposite! If your car won't start, do you soldier on without a mechanic? When your water pipe springs a leak, do you bravely stick your finger over it hoping it will repair itself, or do you call a plumber? Why should your mental health be any different? Seeking expert help is a sign of a strong and mature person, a person who has the courage to make changes in their life.
"I don't want to tell all my secrets to a complete stranger."
What you discuss in counselling is confidential. The relationship between counsellor and client is one of the most important factors in therapeutic change. I wouldn't expect clients to instantly trust me but my in my experience, the trusting relationship can develop quickly. What you choose to share or not share is totally up to you. However, the more honest you are, the greater the chance of you benefitting from counselling.
"Counselling is no different to having a chat with a friend."
I can absolutely assure you it is nothing like a chat with a friend! The misconception that counselling is basically 'tea and sympathy' is very far from the truth. Of course, our friends can be really supportive and sympathetic. However, counsellors are trained professionals and the counselling relationship is very different. The counsellor is focussed on you and has no preconceptions about you. We are trained, so can utilise skills and apply theoretical perspectives to the work we do with clients. Friends can be amazing and it can be great to offload but they aren't objective; they can't be your counsellor.
"I don't want to keep going over my past."
There are many different kinds of counselling and psychotherapy. Person centred counselling, for example, focusses on how you are feeling now and is client led. This means you choose what to talk about. If you don't want to talk about your past you don't have to. Often past events have a bearing on our current experience so they naturally come up in counselling sessions, but the focus is on how you are in the present. Counselling bears no resemblance to the 'black couch' psychoanalysis portrayed on many TV shows. I don't sit behind my clients asking them about their mother, frantically scribbling notes!
"I don't want people to know I'm seeing a counsellor."
Believe it or not, around a quarter of us have sought counselling/psychotherapy at some point. Look around you - that's one in four people. Increasingly there is less stigma surrounding counselling. TV programmes follow celebrities "In Therapy" and the comedy "Hang-ups" takes a humorous look at online therapy. But if you really don't want people to know, rest assured I won't tell them. Ellie Goulding, Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Lady Gaga and Prince Harry have all openly talked about the benefits of counselling. Counsellors are ethically bound to keep client work confidential. It is up to you whether you tell your friends and family. This will be discussed with you in your first counselling session.
"I'm worried I will be in therapy for the rest of my life."
Unlike some sitcoms might suggest, it is a misconception that once you start, you will never finish. In fact, the aim of counselling is to reach a point where you no longer need it. The length of time you spend in counselling depends on the work you want to do. You may find that you have resolved a specific issue and no longer need counselling or you may discover new issues that you want to explore. The choice is entirely yours.
"I'm worried I would be wasting the counsellor's time."
If that is stopping you from coming into counselling, ask yourself why. Do you think your problems aren't big enough? Don't you think you are worthy of being helped? Are you worried your counsellor will judge you? Aren't you important enough to see a counsellor? If you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, sad, or you are in any way struggling emotionally then counselling might really help. I personally think we could all benefit from counselling.
"How can just talking do any good?"
Counselling isn't 'just talking'. Through counselling we gain self-awareness, we can reframe problems and can better understand how we relate to those around us. Being able to see things from a different perspective can help you to make changes. Counsellors are non-judgemental, objective, empathic and focussed on you. We have also trained for a long time so we can apply the knowledge from our training to our work with clients.
Do any of these sound familiar? Or is it something else? Why not take the plunge? Go on, pick up the phone or go online and take that first step. I bet you'll wish you had done it much sooner.
If youwant to find out more, please contact me.