It’s often said that “talking never hurt anyone” and that “it always helps to talk”. The question is then: How does talking actually help?
Before the days of antidepressants and other medical interventions, people that felt low in spirit had little else available to them other than to talk about how they felt to someone they trusted, with the hope that by doing this that it would be a 'burden shared' and that would result in some relief.
This hasn’t changed and many people still find that when they are troubled, that it helps to talk to firstly to family and friends about what troubles them and if this is insufficient, to a professional counsellor or psychotherapist.
So, how is talking to a counsellor different to talking to family or friends?
A counsellor is a skilled helper, who has been trained and is experienced in listening to what’s said in a way which friends and family quite often can’t. Counsellors hold what’s called 'positive regard' for their clients and as such, are non-judgemental and unbiased about what they hear. The counsellor is also unconnected personally with their clients and neutral to the client’s family, friends, workplace etc. What’s said to a counsellor is completely confidential and won’t be repeated outside of the counselling relationship; (with certain restrictions such as there being someone at risk or in danger).
In counselling, two people come together in genuine dialogue without the games and politics that many experience in society and external relationships. The dialogue involves the counsellor and client in a relationship which is free from judgement (on the counsellor's part). It involves communication, cooperation and collaboration from both parties and revolves around the issues that the client brings.
All of this adds up to a relationship which is quite unlike any other and a place where things can be talked through and made sense of: A place where a person can be helped to explore and understand; to add context to their problem and facilitate finding a way through.
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About Robert Heaven
MBACP(Accred) PG.Dip, Psych Couns, M.Sc, M.A
Private practice (2005). Counsellor to the Myaesthenia Gravis Association, EAP 's, works with adults solo and couples. Relate trained practitioner, police and emergency services, sex offenders and victims of crime. Writes for magazines as "agony aunt" services to "Jeremy Kyle TV".