Your path to healing and growth is unique

If you are looking for initiatives to improve your mental, emotional, and general well-being, there could be several reasons for that. Perhaps you have experienced trauma or maybe you feel you have poor mental health. It may be that you are in the middle of a life transition or perhaps you are just always open to new ideas and would like to tweak your self-care routine.


There may feel like there are many people trying to tell us that they have the perfect strategy for our healing, growth, or self-care journey. In many ways it’s great that there are tools available should we need them. If we’ve experienced a trauma, are experiencing poor mental health or simply feel we need to give ourselves more tender loving care, it can be helpful to know that there are many books, YouTube channels, podcasts, therapies, and therapists out there to offer some guidance. But it can seem like there is too much information and too many strategies out there. "How do I choose?" you may ask.

Knowing what's right for you

After checking the credentials of the person offering the therapy, strategy, podcast, or book, how else do you know if it is something that is right for you? After all, you haven’t got all day and your well-being is important! However great a strategy is, it is unlikely to help everyone. Just because it has helped your best friend or your brother doesn’t mean that it is going to help you. Here are some questions that might help you to choose what is right for you.

What is it you would like to get out of the process?

This may sound obvious, but it is worth spending some time thinking about what position you would like to find yourself in once you have taken on the practice. Sometimes we might know that we want to feel better, healthier, or more fulfilled but we may not know what that looks like. Occasionally, of course, we might feel it is impossible to envisage how things could be better. That is understandable and if you are in that situation, a therapist or counsellor should be able to help you work that out.
If you do feel able to you can try and imagine a point, say six months to a year in the future, where things have improved due to steps you have undertaken. Think about the specifics of your day-to-day life and what would be different. This might help you to inform what steps you might like to take to get there. For instance, if you realise that the main change would be in your relationships, perhaps you would like to undertake relational therapy, read some books on the subject or work on your communication skills.

If, on the other hand, you realise that your main issue is that you would like to feel more peace in the face of stress, perhaps you would like to find a mindfulness or meditation routine that would work for you. Or maybe it dawns on you that it’s your job that is the problem so you might like to do some work with a career coach or read some books on careers.

What is your learning style?

Whether you are trying to recover from a trauma, have more meaningful relationships or be happier at work (or whatever situation you are in) it can be helpful to use your learning style to inform any decisions you make (this can be useful for many things, not just for your emotional health and well-being). According to Thomas Armstrong, who wrote '7 Kinds of Smart', there are nine learning styles which are as follows:

  1. Verbal – linguistic: Learns well from written and spoken word.
  2. Visual – spatial: Learns well from pictures which means that the learning is often holistic rather than step by step as the pictures often connect, like a web.
  3. Musical – sound: These learners easily follow written instructions and like to read out loud. Learners often love music, remember song lyrics, and have a good sense of rhythm.  
  4. Bodily – kinesthetic -tactile: Would rather perform physical activity to learn something.
  5. Mathematical - science – logical: Succeed by using order, steps, and logic.
  6. Social – interpersonal: Learn best through communication with others, whether it’s verbal or non-verbal.
  7. Reflective – intrapersonal: Enjoy activities where they can summarise thoughts, feelings, and events.
  8. Natural world: Learn best in the outdoors and enjoy opportunities to study the outside world.
  9. Existential meaning: Learners can use collective values and intuition to understand others and the world around them.

Knowing your learning style can help you to work out what type of therapist you would like to work with. For instance, if you are a kinesthetic learner, you may benefit from working with a somatic counsellor. If you are a social learner, you may benefit from group therapy. Knowing your learning style could help you to navigate the type of mindfulness or meditation that would be most helpful for you. If you are a musical/sound learner, you may enjoy sound meditation or if you are a visual learner, you might love visualisation work.

What do you miss?

This may be a helpful line of exploration if you have been feeling flat and uninspired but don’t know why. This is about remembering the things that you used to love that have fallen by the wayside for whatever reason (perhaps it has been more difficult to take part in those activities or perhaps you were led to believe they were a waste of time for some reason). Brene Brown states:

If we want to create meaning we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing. It doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.

Engaging with these types of activities again can be the key to greater well-being and help us to connect with our younger selves, and perhaps even heal childhood wounds we didn’t know we had. If you were put off art by an insensitive teacher, perhaps your inner child would like nothing more than to be finally let loose with a paintbrush. Or perhaps if you were told that anything creative was a waste of time and energy, maybe being creative again could help you to find the real you, rather than live by the values of others. This sense of empowerment can then seep into other areas of your life. There are lots of books and other materials out there that can help you to reconnect with your creativity including 'The Artist’s Way' by Julia Cameron.
Alternatively, you may have loved sports as a child and your road to well-being might be in taking up a team sport or taking up swimming again, for instance. Similar to working with creativity, healing your childhood sports scars (i.e. not getting picked for the team or not having a supportive PE teacher) might give you a new lease of life. Perhaps your inner child needs some love and compassion which you can now offer yourself, instead of relying on others to do so.

What time and money do you have at your disposal to spend on any interventions?

It is very sad that the services and options we have available to us are limited by these factors. In an ideal world, everyone should have access to things that will enable them to have a good sense of well-being. The good news is that there is plenty available even if you feel you don’t have a huge pool of time or money to use. Whilst you may feel like you need a month-long retreat somewhere beautiful and sunny, this isn’t an option for most.

There are many cheap and even free resources that might help you. If you are struggling to find cost-effective counselling, for instance, have you thought about accessing local charities that specialise in the issue that is troubling you (for instance, addiction or sexual abuse)? If you are struggling with relationships, for example, there are a plethora of YouTube videos dedicated to things like attachment style and communication skills.
I hope that this article may have given you some direction on your path to wellness. I think that one of the most important things is not to get disheartened if you have tried one or two things that weren’t for you. We are all unique and it can take a few attempts to find support or tools that hit the mark.

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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Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX3
Written by Beth Roberts, Integrative Counsellor and EMDR Therapist MBACP (Accred).
Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX3

I am a fully accredited integrative counsellor and I work online and face to face (in Oxford). I work with a wide range of issues including trauma, depression and anxiety.

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