Counselling. It's just talking isn't it?
“It’s just talking!” Grant shouted at his counsellor. He is a 35-year-old computer programmer, logical and rational in the extreme. He had first gone to therapy three months ago when, much to his embarrassment and bafflement, a part of his brain had decided that even a trip to his local Tesco was too threatening. He had refused to be held hostage to these “ridiculous” thoughts and was certain that through strength of will and rational thinking he would overcome this “silliness”.
Unfortunately, this strategy only gave more power to the fear and by the time he called the counsellor he had realised the battle he had been fighting for over a year was not going to be won by “stiff-upper lip” alone. As is often the case with resilient and “strong” people, the situation needed to get to crisis point before he asked for help. By now he could barely leave the house and had not seen Rosa, his 5-year old daughter, play in the park since last summer.
“I need some techniques, some strategies” Grant told him clearly in their first chat. He was asking for an upgrade or a reboot. He was not functioning correctly and the part of his brain that had the “virus” needed fixing.
Now, he sits in the office and looks his counsellor in the eye. It is a look that says, “we have a relationship, an understanding”. “It doesn’t make sense. Why do I feel so different now? It’s only talking!”. There is a glint in his eye as he says this. He knows why it feels so different now. They have journeyed through Grant’s world and uncovered long dead monsters that Grant had pushed away. In doing so, he had kept them alive in his mind, terrorising him on a whim. They have developed a relationship in which he gradually feels free to acknowledge fears, feelings, regrets and hopes, no matter however “silly” they sound. Far from overpowering his scared self, he now understands it and it, in turn, is reassured. He no longer battles himself. He is one person again; integrated.
Grant has achieved release from his anxiety. He had started his sessions so beaten and weary that he had little belief that he could ever feel like this again.
Grant’s only regret was that he let it get to crisis point before talking. Like any health issue, the sooner you seek help the better. Counselling, with an experienced, empathetic therapist, is more than “just talking”. It is talking in a way that will upset, surprise and delight you as you move closer to your true self. It’s not always easy but its far easier than living a life in the grip of anxiety and fear. Whoever you choose as a therapist; just start talking.
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About Steve Neesam
Steve Neesam is a UKCP accredited psychotherapist based in Eastbourne. He has many years of experience helping clients with anxiety and other conditions.