How do I know when I should come to counselling?
To keep this simple; it is a bit like saying when should I go and see a doctor?
Some, if not most of us, dread going to the doctor but know that if we have symptoms that aren’t about to go away then maybe we should go and get it checked out.
It is also similar to when you have a toothache – it hurts too much to ignore the pain. You know it’s going to get worse if you don’t do something about it. So you make an appointment to see the dentist.
That call to the doctor or the dentist is a way of managing our physical needs and it is the start of our cure, our road back to health.
Counselling is the same; if we’re in pain or sorrow that goes on and simply won’t go away, if talking to friends only helps for the time we’re with them; if we can’t sleep, feel panicked, don’t understand why we feel like crying all the time or running away. Then maybe it is time to think about managing this kind of pain too.
The area of difficulty about feelings and emotional pain is that it is not going to be solved by taking a pill or a ‘quick fix’ remedy, which is why we often can’t face it; facing up to feelings can be terrifying and involves owning up to shame, guilt, loneliness and humiliation – who is able to admit to these kind of feelings without help?
Because there is no obvious ‘wound’ we can tell ourselves that it will go away if we ignore it. It does for a time; time also can be a healer; but only you will know if time has healed you inside or whether you’re still suffering. Anxiety and depression are invisible from the outside but they can hang around us for too long.
Choosing the right counsellor for you
We are all different; we all take to some people more than others. Whilst it is not essential that we like our doctor or dentist, if most of the time they do the right thing, prescribe the right treatment, give us the right advice about our symptoms, we are reasonably happy.
Choosing a counsellor is a bit more complicated; it is a lottery. Fear of who you will get makes the whole decision somewhat tricky. It is a bit easier if your doctor or a friend recommends someone to you; tougher though, when you are making the decision alone.
It can be a leap of faith. But, bear this in mind; if after two or three times you don’t feel comfortable with one person, try another. You are paying for a service; you need to know if you like the setting, the therapist, whether you feel in safe hands, whether you feel you can trust the person in front of you.
Who comes to counselling?
The answer to that one is surprisingly easy; lots of people. People who are in pain, have suffered for a long time, have had difficult lives, are stuck in a cycle of behaviour which has become unhealthy for them.
Why does it help?
It helps because you can talk in a safe place; you don’t know the therapist outside the room. You can start afresh with a new relationship to shed some light on your troubles. You can have your responses fed back gently to you. You can walk away knowing that you have at least shared some hidden pain or shame with another human being on the planet. Your therapist didn’t jumped out of the chair with shock but offered you a space and a freedom you hadn’t thought possible.
Talking therapy is proven to work. What you want to achieve is within you with the help of a counsellor.
How long can I expect to be in counselling?
Some people come to me for between five and ten sessions, some for six months, some for longer. It depends on what they want to work on. Some people find it harder to trust; they take a bit longer to unravel their story. Some people come with a particular issue, some with a more encompassing set of life circumstances.
What if I don’t like my experience?
You have plenty of time to decide what you feel. Make it clear to me that you are unsure and we can take it a session at a time. Your experience with me is one I take very seriously. That’s one positive about counselling – you’re free to find someone you can work with and I can help you with that.
How long does a session last?
Counselling lasts for 50 minutes so that I can reflect on what you tell me within the hour.
What does counselling actually do?
It respects you and what you bring in a non- judgmental way. The idea is that you speak to someone who does not know you except in the counselling room. What you say is important. I learn your language and you help me to understand you.