A stress filled life: What support can counselling offer?

When people are struggling to survive – when they are faced with extremes of income or bombarded with negative media and pressured to do more, perform better and not complain, for example – this can often be felt in the counselling room. 


In this climate, anxiety increases, depression can set in and the cycle becomes a downward one. Anxiety and depression are bad enough when we are the only ones facing them, but often we are part of a family and, accordingly, the family is affected. This can serve to increase the intensity of these feelings/moods, for example, "I should be able to deal with life better." To the counsellor, this can suggest low self-esteem.

The breadwinner, who is now redundant, has built their self-image and self-worth around them being the breadwinner. The client, as a tenant, feels powerless to act and change the mould-infested property they are bringing their family up in. The people who are disgusted at seeing the effluent tide line around the boats on their local waterways and feel powerless to do anything about it. The people who struggle to be able to afford to run the car which they need to use to get to work... and the list goes on. All of these examples are not uncommon in the counselling room.

Scrolling through my inbox this morning, I watched a post by a quite well-known politician. They are a thorn in the side of the established political system. They want a better life for everyone, not just a few wealthy elites. Thank goodness we still have people and politicians of his ilk. In the video they proposed a minimum wage of £15 per hour, taxing the corporations and uber-wealthy to fund the NHS, forcing water companies to stop polluting our waterways, bringing nationally critical utilities back into public ownership and stopping no-fault evictions.

Before you stop reading because this is, after all, a blog about counselling, I want to thank you for reading this far. As strange as it seems, the issues this politician addresses are entwined with counselling.

These issues often find their way into the counselling room. Sometimes under the guise of stress or low self-esteem, but in conjunction with them are societal issues. 
When people are powerless they can become hopeless. They seek reasons for the way their life is and in so doing often blame themselves for their own circumstances.

So what about counselling then?

How counselling can offer support 

Here, the counsellor can provide a safe place for clients to vent their anger, frustration and feelings of futility. When we voice our feelings, we are better placed to deal with them. Rattling around between our ears, these feelings have a strength that is quite often compelling as well as overwhelming. When we voice them, we can bring the feelings to a proper size. Importantly we have, perhaps unwittingly, taken the first step towards addressing them. 

With the help of a skilled and compassionate counsellor, we are able to address the feelings. One step at a time and in small manageable pieces we are able to process the feelings and, as we do so, we become aware of how we are able to deal with them. We may want to just have somewhere and someone to vent the feelings. That is OK. With busy lives, this can be enough.

When every other moment is filled with the needs and wants of the boss, the partner, the overdraft, the children, the school, the bills, the car and the oiks racing loud-engined motorcycles and cars nearby, where can I get some me time? The counselling session can provide a space just for you. A space where you are heard and where you matter.

The counsellor’s skills are not confined to these issues but they are as useful when the client is facing the issues mentioned as they are when the client is dealing with perhaps more serious and often intractable issues. 

Can the counsellor change the way the world is? The way the client’s life is? 

I do not feel it is ethical for the counsellor to think they can, neither do I consider it something the counsellor should do. What I experience with clients is that when they feel heard and understood, they feel empowered. When they feel they matter and are entitled to the best they can be, then the path is open for the client to explore ways of achieving what it is they need and want.

When a client feels the urge to change the counsellor can be alongside them. They can provide a space in which it is safe to explore issues and options. A space where it is OK to not get it right the first time, a space where the client can be accepted for just what they are and not what they are expected to be. A space where there is no criticism or judgement.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Chelmsford CM1
Written by Steve Fayers, Counsellor / Therapist | Certified Trauma Therapist
Chelmsford CM1

I am a person, a counsellor, a parent, a flawed human being who has struggled with life. Struggled with addiction.
I would rather struggle than give in and accept a life that does not meet my needs and wants.
I am trying to be the best person I can be.
"I will not go quietly into that goodnight " (paraphrased Dylan Thomas)

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