So what is counselling?

Some of us will know what counselling is, but some of us won’t. It may be something that is mysterious, something that is shameful to admit to, or something that is only for people who are really unwell. Or it may be something that we have been around or have used ourselves. 

What is counselling?

I guess at one time mental health was considered inferior to physical health. I mean, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing or hearing about health and fitness, but I can never remember anything promoting good mental health. With the Royal Family and celebrities stepping forward, I do believe that people are becoming more aware of the importance of mental health. For me, mental and physical health are so linked; they really do affect each other, and you really don’t have to be very unwell to consider counselling. Most of us need a helping hand sometimes.

How will I benefit from counselling?

Just talking can be healing

One of my favourite memes says ‘people start to heal the moment they feel heard’. If we have never been able to be heard then counselling can feel liberating, as for the first time we are able to voice what’s inside.

It could help you understand other people

Sometimes we go to counselling wanting to understand our own issues, but sometimes it can help us understand those that are close to us. Have you ever been really cross with someone but when you have understood the situation better, the emotions change?

It is uninterrupted time and space to focus on just you

It is your time to work through whatever is keeping you stuck. Sometimes in our busy lives, we don’t get the time to think, process or even understand. We are rushing from one thing to another. Maybe we have a demanding family or job and don’t have time for ourselves, or maybe we just need someone trained to be with us as it’s too difficult to face alone. In counselling you will have this space, free from interruptions, to focus on just you. It’s your time for self-care.

During counselling, we can feel less alone

Sometimes we may feel alone with our thoughts around past events or worries that we did the wrong thing, or that we are the only ones who have felt this way. We may really feel isolated and worried that if we tell our friends and family we will be isolated further, so we then keep it all to ourselves. Through counselling, you can feel less alone. The burden is shared and we are not judged for our past perceived mistakes.

Our physical health may improve

If we are stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. A prolonged time of raised cortisol has been linked to a wide range of health problems including heart disease, lowered immune response and bowel problems. We may find ourselves taking trips to the doctors for minor things but sometimes these are brought on by our life issues. Counselling can help us with this and ultimately you may find that your trips to the doctor will lessen, your sleep may improve or you may eat better.

A greater degree of self-awareness

Spending time working on our own issues generates a greater degree of self-awareness. In turn, this knowledge will help us tackle not only our immediate issues, but also any future ones. We learn how we deal with stress, or maybe the reasons behind why we deal with it in that particular way. We may become more resilient for the future as when we become more self-aware we become more resilient. It doesn’t mean that life’s arrows won’t hit us again, they will; it is having the knowledge and resilience to overcome them when they do.

You can talk about what you want

Yes! It is your time, your space, to bring whatever you want. Counselling can really be liberating and empowering and you will not be judged on what you talk about.

Can I get counselling via The NHS?

Yes, you may be able to. The NHS is more likely to refer you for cognitive behavioural therapy. Your GP can refer you or sometimes you can refer yourself. With the NHS you may have to wait a while and you may not get a choice in who you see, but it can be done!

As private therapists, our role in our client’s life is really a unique and humbling one. We are there alongside our clients while they talk about their deepest worries, and there to witness this most important journey. When I witness someone throw away their limitations and worries and get to that point where they leave me and move on, it’s so rewarding. Research has confirmed that the relationship between counsellor and client is central to the client moving forward, so I feel it is vital that you feel you can be open with your counsellor. Right from birth, we have a need to attach and form relationships, so it’s clear to me that healing is done within a relationship – the unique relationship between client and counsellor.

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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Dunmow, CM6
Written by Jane Jiggens, MBACP (Accred), FD(Open)
Dunmow, CM6

I am a registered member of the BACP. I have worked with bereavement, with HIV and with people who just want to understand why they behave, think and feel the way that they do.

I also have an interest in eating disorders and attachment issues.

Counselling is really for everyone, to heal from the past and to live well in the future.

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