Can I just be myself, please?

I was inspired to write this article by the numerous young people with whom I work, specifically those between the ages of 15 and 24.


Sometimes I hear a plea for consent to ask for a change to their personal circumstances, to disclose their gender identity, to stay with a parent during a separation, or even to ask for permission to be themselves. Often this leads to various complications within the counselling room and something that has increased significantly within my practice.

My profession often requires me to reflect on these questions and to guide the young person to empower their right to decide and take the leap of faith these clients are often required to deliberate.

From a person-centred perspective, counselling is about acceptance, congruence, and empathy. Therefore, the goal is to raise awareness of the external locus of evaluation in my work. Examining the origins of inherent feelings and behaviours. Often it is clear that young people are misdirected from their own personal decisions, purely driven by significant caregivers.

Often the young person is so convinced that their right to choose their life direction, to make informed decisions and to challenge the sometimes-oppressive external force within the socioeconomic context which they are located within is impossible, unobtainable, and in turn causes psychological maladjustment within the individual. Anxiety, depression and self-harm are only a few presentations that manifest due to this external pressure.

By providing psychoeducation regarding the actualising tendency and aiming to listen to the inherent drive and inner voice within each individual, we aim to promote a young person's right to be who they are and tap into their authentic self. Sadly, some young people are under pressure to conform to the image their immediate caregivers deem appropriate.

There are many external oppressions that are used to shape the person into a version of themselves that, in my experience, is not what the individual aspires to be. Career aspirations, partner compatibility, and many more external pressures are used to form the person into a version of themselves that they do not wish to be, who they are not a false persona.

It is saddening to hear stories of these people being pushed into a life that is not authentic to their actualising tendency. a truly saddening impactful statement I have heard was simply, ‘I can’t do this, I am not allowed to.’

The truth of the matter is, that confidence building, psychoeducation, and boundary education can all help the young person develop the courage and candour required the challenge that which is not permissible.

Often, young people report that their significant caregivers do not understand the need to express themselves the way they are, who they aspire to be and break through the barrier that is often present.

Help can be given should you choose to reach out and talk about the demanding situations you may find yourself within. Please find a counsellor who will embrace the authentic you, and help develop confidence and self-expression, leading to the necessary voice we all have the human right to express.

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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Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, TS20
Written by Neil Evans, He/ Him / His MBACP Registered (Accred):Clinical Supervisor
Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, TS20

Hello I'm Neil and I am a professional counsellor. Together the aim is to help you reach a goal or make a change in your life. I believe you can achieve your personal goals, and enjoy a new outlook on life.

I am a very relational person, so the counselling experience will be informal, human and non-judemental. Please take a look at my profile.

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