How could seeing a counsellor help me?
Would seeing a counsellor help me? Probably, yes. And almost certainly at some point in your life.
Counselling is about change, and there are always things in our lives, feelings and relationships which we would like to be different for us. Seeing a counsellor can provide us with the space, time and security to talk about the stuff which might be affecting us. And talking in this way can help to facilitate the change which we want to make.
In that sense, counselling can be a liberating experience, enabling us to be freer of the past. By helping us to understand how our past experiences have shaped our current behaviour and feelings, counselling can put us in a better place to choose how we want to live our lives differently for the future.
Most often, clients start to see counsellors because a particular problem has occurred in the past. Talking to family and friends might not be doing the trick because they may be well-meaning, but they won’t be independent and impartial in the way a counsellor will be.
That problem is often about loss in some form or another: for example, divorce, redundancy, failing health, empty nest syndrome, or of course, actual bereavement. A weekly session with a counsellor gives us a safe place and an opportunity to look at the whole mix of feelings that losses of this sort can throw up for us before they tip us over into depression or anxiety.
Other clients can be brought to counselling with specific issues which they want to address. They might want to look at a pattern of failed relationships. They might be worried that, for some reason, their low self-confidence is holding them back from what they want to achieve in life. Or the stress of work is getting too much to handle on their own.
Others find that their anger is getting in the way of forming happy relationships: exploring the pattern of anger in their lives by therapy with a counsellor can help to give them a better chance to handle angry feelings in a less destructive way.
It can take courage to start counselling, to talk about difficult feelings to someone who starts off as a complete stranger. The early stages of counselling can throw up strong emotions, ones which we have consciously or unconsciously hidden behind our defences: drink or other addictions, repetitive patterns of behaviour, eating disorders, or just a stiff upper lip.
Counselling can’t offer a magic wand to wave away the issues which might be troubling us. But it can offer a chance to make changes in our lives, based on a better awareness of where we have come from and a better sense of our choices for the future.
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About Andrew Colquhoun
Andrew Colquhoun is a counsellor accredited by BACP working in the Hastings area of East Sussex. He works primarily on an integrative basis, but draws on a background in CBT and in existential practice, depending on the client's needs.