How counselling can help you grow resilience
Some months ago I was contacted by someone looking for help. We had a telephone conversation prior to moving onto booking an initial session. During our chat, the person said they didn’t know where to start as they had not had therapy before and didn’t know what they were looking for. I asked if they had any questions. They asked me why I was a therapist and if I was any good.
These questions were helpful to me. I think all therapists need to keep these in their mind. I thought for a while and I answered them. We then started to work together. They are now on their life journey with a feeling of purpose, with a new job and home, having moved forward from a place of feeling stuck and uncertain about themselves and their future.
Questions help open up possibilities. We might not have the answer straight away and that's part of the journey. Give yourself time to think and perhaps write them down. Sometimes we limit our creativity by the assumptions we hold. Some helpful questions you might like to ask yourself before choosing a therapist are:
- What do I think or feel therapy will achieve for me?
- What do I want to change or feel differently about?
- What am I assuming will happen in therapy?
- Why am I seeking help now?
- When will I know that things are getting better?
- What will I be doing differently in my life?
- How much time am I willing to give this?
- Are there other things I could be doing in addition to help myself?
Many counselling websites have boxes for prospective clients to input an area of concern to them such as anxiety and also a location and your preference for the gender of the therapist. If you know what kind of therapy approach you might want, you can also input this and if you prefer online, telephone or face to face.
Ensure that the person is qualified, experienced and registered with a reputable organisation such as BACP, (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) or UKCP, (UK Council for Psychotherapy) registers. Therapist’s qualifications are checked and they abide by the respective ethical frameworks.
It is worth taking time over the process of finding your therapist. It’s okay to contact a number of therapists and to speak to them over the phone and have an initial session before you make your decision. You can ask questions and get a feel for how that person will be right for you and also you for them, as it is an important relationship.
Some therapists offer an initial phone call and an initial session so that clients can check out if their approach and the person they meet are a good fit for them. The therapist also can make a decision about whether they can help you and explain their approach.
Make a note of any questions you want to ask them and if you book an initial session with them, think about how you feel meeting with them and use this to help you decide if you want to book another session or think about things first.
It’s okay to meet with a therapist and ask questions and then decide not to work with them. The session is there for both of you to check how you both feel about working together.
Invest some time in choosing a therapist and if you choose someone and then feel the relationship is not working for you, then that is okay. Your decision to engage in the process of therapy is important. Book another session with another therapist, as not everyone finds the right therapist for them first time. It is a learning process of finding out what is not for you, so nothing is wasted.
I like to think of the therapist’s role as a “strength detective”. As a psychotherapist my role is to help to identify your strengths, offer myself as a resource and support the growth of new ways of relating to the world that energise and engage the person as fully as possible. I integrate theoretical approaches which compliment each other. Many therapists do this, listing the various approaches they draw upon.
Growing resilience is an active process
Meeting with a therapist is not a passive relationship. Therapists are human beings too and we learn a lot from our clients. Resilience is something we all have and at times, we lose some of this because it is part of being human. It may be for a variety of reasons, we become ill or we age, we lose the love of a friend or relative, change hits us when we are not prepared, the list goes on.
Most therapists offer a weekly session of up to an hour. Another approach can be flexible and some therapists offer a menu of resources. Some alternatives are to meet every two weeks and to invest the time between sessions to practice doing things differently at home, work, school or wherever we may be.
Resources can be identified and supplied by the therapist to facilitate this, such as suggested references to books, YouTube video or working with craft materials, listening to music or doing creative writing. There is no limit to being creative. This can include going out with your therapist companion for walks in the outdoors to connect with our wider world. Anything and everything can be therapeutic if we view it this way, and engage the whole of us, mind, body and soul.
We grow our resilience in relationships with others who can provide us with nourishment. We can all be a resource for others to regain our strength in difficult times. A therapist can be part of your life journey, being a resource for you to revive, restore and grow.