You have probably heard lots of people saying “talking helps”. You may already have experienced times when something is troubling you and it has really helped to talk to friends or family about it. So why choose counselling rather than just talking to your family or friends?
Often those around us are involved in whatever is causing difficulty in some way. They will undoubtedly have an opinion about it or may try to “fix” things for you. We all know what it feels like if a loved one is struggling and we have an urge to try to fix the problem for them.
Whatever is troubling you may sometimes be difficult to voice. We are often too afraid to say what we are thinking for fear of rejection, judgement or causing upset to someone else. Sometimes we just struggle to find the words to explain.
The idea of talking to a stranger about personal issues can obviously be daunting and it is understandable that many people would not even want to try it. Imagine a situation however where you can say what you want. You can say aloud those “weird” or frightening thoughts that have been going round your mind. You can retell the same story over and over without having to worry that the listener is “bored” or has lost patience with you. Everything we talk about in sessions is confidential but there are some safeguarding exceptions which I will discuss with you at the initial appointment.
Clients have told me how liberating it is to have the unique experience of voicing their thoughts without the need to filter them first. I have been told that it was reassuring for me to say at the outset that they did not need to protect me and that it was OK for them to just “be” in each session. All emotions are allowed and welcome in the counselling room. This is often a new experience for many people.
Clients have also told me that it is difficult to explain to others how counselling works but that they just know that it does. There are not really other situations in life where we have the opportunity of having 50 minutes a week for ourselves in a safe environment where we can completely devote attention to our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Counselling is a space where we are able to explore and be ourselves without judgement or being told what we “should” do. My aim is to help you find your own solutions.
I often see clients visibly relax as they come into the room. Initial nerves are to be expected of course. It takes time to build up trust. I have spent a lot of time in making my therapy room a comfortable and welcoming space. I have however also worked in some pretty basic and uncomfortable rooms and found that the relationship between the therapist and the client is the most important aspect of the work, not the surroundings.
I am not saying that counselling is always easy. Clients benefit most if they reflect on the sessions in between appointments and work at noticing patterns and behaviours and the part they play in their own difficulties. Sessions can sometimes be painful and difficult to face and I am sure that most clients have times that they don’t want to come to an appointment. These difficult times are however also beneficial in helping clients to learn to manage their difficult emotions and face them head on rather than avoiding or storing them in the box of horrors in their heads, only for them to come tumbling out at a later date.
All counsellors are different and I would urge anyone who has had a negative experience in counselling to give it another try. I am able to work in different ways. All of my clients are individual people and as such my approach is different for each one. Sometimes I work in an open ended exploratory way, looking at past behaviours and patterns and how they affect the present. Sometimes I work in a more short term solution focussed way and can also look at the relationship between the body and emotional health.