In life therapy helps
Each of us experiences moments in our lives when a particular problem seems too much... It could be a relationship, a marriage, a partnership or work/career related.
It could be an event; a bereavement, a loss, a trauma or an addiction. Sometimes it is simply, “Why don’t I feel right?”, or “Why am I not where I ‘ought’ to be?”
Therapy means "curative powers" and "healing". Psychotherapy means "talking treatment": Counselling means the same. Counselling provides the safe, supportive space to feel our feelings and begin to understand them... and so better to understand ourselves.
At times of anxiety, stress, loss or change or actual bereavement the experience of being heard in complete confidence, non-judgementally, by a professional Counsellor leads to healing and resolution.
Crisis and loss - after the pain and anguish - can be catalysts for new beginnings. Counselling can, and does, lead to uncovering new directions and fresh energy.
Thoughts on choosing a counsellor
So you've decided you need to see a counsellor but how on earth do you find the right one? There are some straight forward practical issues of accessibility to where you are, where you live or where you work. Then having defined the area or areas you want to look in, Google can do the rest both in bringing up individual counsellors and in bringing up the directory websites such as the BACP's http://www.itsgoodtotalk, Counselling Directory, rsccp or the Natural Health directory etc.
You may feel you would rather have a male or female therapist or indeed one that specialises in gay, lesbian or transgender clients, younger , older etc. That has to be entirely up to you. If that's what you feel, follow that feeling in the choices you make. It's your therapist you are choosing and you may be working with him or her for some considerable time.
Whichever way you trawl the net, you will end up looking at individual psychotherapist's web sites. Then how do you choose the one?
Gut feeling. There will be details of qualifications etc all worth scanning through. However, the basis for successful counselling is what is termed the "therapeutic relationship" between client and therapist. If you instinctively feel you can trust, be at ease and can work with this therapist then that's the right person for you.
Most therapists offer an initial appointment, as I do, so you can experience working together. You may wish to have more than one initial appointment and then make a decision but in my experience, if the initial appointment with the therapist of choice works well, then I suspect most people decide to go that route.
If it feels right then research underscores that whatever the therapists modality, the the therapy is likely to be beneficial. If you don't feel comfortable - not a chance. Look again. The counselling room is where you want to be able to share your innermost thoughts and be comfortable with that. Trust is basic. The therapeutic process is built on that.
New Year, New You
This is the time that the magazines, newspapers and the celebs on social media all turn their thoughts to the New You - usually meaning slimming to that airbrush perfection slim toned figure that in our time is considered to be the most desirable. It wasn't always the ideal. The painter Rubens featured plump curvaceous women seen as the desirable beauties of their time. In Victorian times slim and petite was not considered fashionable. It was too reminiscent of the waifs, strays and poor people of the Victorian slums. A fuller figure showed wealth and social status, that you eat well and avoid hard toil!
How fashion changes and how little it really matters. Although of course to some extent we all fall for it and it can be quite fun. But it is how we feel about ourselves that really matters. If we feel good about ourselves then life is likely to go with a bounce and people will respond to us in a positive way whether we are big, small, plump or thin. If we feel bad about ourselves, that we are not up to the mark, not good enough then that rebounds on our confidence social, sexual and personal.
Why would we feel that? Each of us is individual and brings our own talents and energies to our lives and the lives of those who are around us? Who is this judge who is making us feel inadequate - a loser not a winner, an also-ran rather than a proud participant in the human race. Is it the weight of Hello-type images and happy falling in love stories and successful in business tales. Maybe to some extent. But the most forceful and insidious and confidence-destroying judge is right in our own heads. That's where psychotherapy helps. It can help you flush out that demon voice that pulls you down and holds your back. Replace him/her with a voice that recognises your unique talents and achievements and you will really have a new you who can celebrate the life you are living now. What a joyous wonderful prospect for the New Year!
Sex in the counselling room
Sex is everywhere. We are surrounded by images, adverts, news stories, TV dramas, books and films in which sex features large. The advertising and marketing industry is not wrong: sex sells - it triggers a response like nothing else does.
But talking frankly about sex in the counselling room is often not easy. It is all too easy to come with problems in a relationship and not mention sex. Yet from adolescent to mature adult and on into old age sex or the absence of it, or the craving for it is a powerful, often the most powerful force in our lives.
So it is important that the therapeutic relationship you have with your counsellor and the 'working alliance' that you form in counselling sessions enables you to talk about anything including the ‘strangest', most way-out thoughts, fantasies, dreams, worries and experiences in any and every sphere of your life, including the most intimate sexual and personal spheres.
If stuff in these areas is concerning you, you have to feel utterly free to talk about it in a totally non-judgemental, understanding and empathic space - after all that is why you are spending good money on counselling fees.
Taking the plunge
It's so easy to carry problems and issues. Like leaches they cling to us, become part of us and we often don't realise how much of a burden they have become. It is like carrying a heavy weight is the old expression and it is true. Our problems weigh us down, get under our skin, do our head in and make us feel like retreating from the world and going under the bed clothes. Often clients say to me that their head is spinning from the noise, the chatter of competing worries, thoughts and arguments raging inside. No wonder many complain of a headache!
Life does not have to be like this and we are able to do something about it to liberate ourselves and counselling is a high road to that liberation. In the confidentiality of the counselling room, with a skilled listener and facilitator which is what a counsellor is trained to do, you can begin to unload those concerns. Then you can start to examine them and begin to understand them...
Time and therapy
Twenty-first century capitalism invented "real-time" solutions and 'instant' communication across the globe. Such technological advances are great but human emotions work on another time-scale and we as human beings need time and relationship to live healthily and survive the crises that confront all of us in our lives. Super heroes are creations of Hollywood, we humans need time, space and often help...
For instance, sometimes a loss may be an old one (perhaps almost or totally forgotten) that is awoken by some new similar experience that then seems to impact out of all proportion. It might be a bereavement never properly mourned, a loss too painful to acknowledge and repressed in the sub-conscious to protect the self from the pain.
Confused - remember the relationship's the thing
CBT, psychoanalysis, person-centred, solution-focused...there are so many types of psychotherapy and counselling, but research shows the success of your therapy depends above all on the therapist's ability to form a 'therapeutic relationship' with you. Choosing the right counsellor(who feels right to you) is the key to a successful counselling experience.
I offer an introductory appointment so you can make sure you are comfortable with me. I may spend some time asking questions to find out about you, your medical history, your background and your family context.
At the beginning of your counselling we will define as far as is possible what has brought you to this point, and agree on what it is you want to achieve. This will serve to guide our counselling process and sets agreed goals against which we can measure our progress.
How long is therapy?
It depends on you and your needs. Once we have agreed to work together, usually I will suggest we start with an initial six-session period. This allows us to forge a trusting therapeutic relationship.
You may feel relief in being able to talk about an issue after a single session. However, the issues and problems you bring have probably built up over a number of years, if not your entire lifetime.
Counselling requires time to help you work through them. Usually I suggest an open-ended approach, giving us time and space to work for as long as it is beneficial.