I will confess that I was once one of those sceptics that wasn't really convinced that talking to a counsellor could make any difference. 'I've got friends and family' I thought. I can work stuff out myself. I thought that if I ignored something for long enough, packaged it away neatly in the section of my mind labelled 'stuff I don't want to deal with' that it would miraculously disappear. I wonder how much you have buried and ignored?
I often get asked how counselling actually works and I sometimes struggle to give a concise answer. Its a combination of things and it depends on the person and what they bring to counselling.
Mainly I think that counselling allows us to bring into awareness 'stuff' that we have either chosen to push away or more often have unconsciously buried. I often liken it to putting issues in boxes in our brain. Some of the issues are so painful or difficult that we really nail down the lid (and sometimes put a massive lead weight on top of it just to be extra sure). Unfortunately the boxes have a habit of opening up at the most unexpected or inopportune times and catch us unawares. What's the result? Uncontrolled outbursts of emotion such as anger or tears. In trying to contain these feelings we are often plagued by anxiety which can extend to depression, OCD, and lead to self-numbing behaviours such as alcohol misuse and overeating. It also leads to patterns of behaviour which are ultimately really unhelpful to us but we can't see it because we are not aware. Do you ever wonder why you end up in unhappy relationships, never feel fulfilled or constantly feel not good enough? Maybe this is a result of issues that you are not yet aware of.
And here is the magic. Once we are really aware of and begin to understand all that emotional 'stuff' that we think we have cleverly packaged away so efficiently, we take back control. It has less power over us. Counselling allows you to safely explore these painful and scary places.
Counselling can allow you to safely explore your feelings surrounding an event, person, relationship etc. with someone who has no preconceptions or expectations, is non-judgemental and is there wholly for you. What you say is confidential. It may be the only situation where you can be completely and brutally honest which can be immensely liberating.
Which brings me to the next bit of magic in counselling. When the relationship between counsellor and client 'works', it is truly unique. I have worked with amazing, brave, resilient clients who share with me every gory detail of their innermost thoughts. Over time we have navigated through their smörgåsbord of emotions, their fears, their beliefs, their judgements of self and their hopes. I have witnessed them change. The honesty, respect and trust in the counsellor-client relationship provides the environment in which the challenge and reflection can take place to enable this change.
Finally, the magic of the process. Clients who start counselling don't know where they will end up. They have made a commitment to go on a journey with me without any guarantees or idea of where we may end up. I can't tell a client they will be 'fixed' in 6 weeks (whatever fixed means!). I can't reassure them the process will be pain free - it usually isn't. I would be lying if I promised my clients that they will be anxiety free or ooze a zen-like serenity after working with me. All I can say is trust the process. I really believe that we all the capacity within us to fulfil our potential (to self-actualise according to Carl Rogers). Like a daffodil pushing its way through the soil in the spring, given the opportunity, we will blossom and flourish and ultimately be more contented human beings.
If you think counselling might help you to reach your potential, get in touch.