As a psychotherapist in private practice and a mental health advocate, I feel counselling is still stigmatised, largely because it is misunderstood, misrepresented and highly undervalued. In recent years there has been an increase in public awareness and an understanding of how important the role of therapy can play in overall mental health and wellbeing.
Despite this, there are still a number of common myths about counselling that either prevents people from seeking out counselling and psychotherapy, talking about therapy, or openly discussing when they are in the process of counselling.
There are a lot of misconceptions from the media and other sources about counselling and what you can expect when going to see a therapist.
Whether or not you are into the sentiment, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. It’s a difficult occasion to miss with every high street chain offering dine in meals for two, deals on flowers, chocolates, its rather inescapable.
You may have a heightened awareness of it all if you’ve recently ended a relationship and you are living with a broken heart.
Ending a relationship can be difficult, particularly if it’s not something you were prepared for or wanted.
This may sound extreme, but the end of a relationship is very similar to the grieving process and what that means to come to terms with and accept your loss.
If you are in a stage in your relationship where every discussion you have with your partner turns into an argument or disagreement, seeking outside professional help in the form of couples counselling might be an another issue where you disagree.
One partner may be feeling more hopeless about the relationship, for them seeking professional help is the last attempt before considering ending the relationship all together.
Show of hands if you’ve ever made a new years resolution, only for it to be out the window before the end of January?
Trust me, you are not the only one – I realised years ago that the real key to change does not only start at the beginning of a new year.
The truth is, ANYTIME is a good time to make change, it’s not about jumping on the bandwagon with the new fad and what everybody else is doing, but identifying what is right for you.
Starting the counselling process is a big step, it might be that you’ve been considering for a long time that you there are some areas that you would like some help with. Perhaps you have suffered with depression, anxiety or low self esteem for years but you’ve been trying to cope with it alone.
Often, asking for help comes at a point of crisis, you’ve tried everything that you can but your usual coping methods that offered short-term relief are no longer working.
The good news is that counsellors are generally aware of how daunting it can be contacting a counsellor for the first time – most counsellors as part of their training undergo the process of psychotherapy and have experienced what it feels like to be on the other side.
Workplace stress and anxiety is becoming more prevalent and is a common concern in the UK. Statistics show that up to 12.5 million working days are lost in a year due to stress and eighty-five per cent of adults in the UK experience stress on a regular basis.
We all encounter that feeling of stress and overwhelm when we have a lot to do. Our time is spread very thinly between working pressures, family commitments and the rush of fast paced living, which is prevalent in western society. There is an expectation to be busy, productive and to be able to deliver these results consistently.
Being in a long-term committed relationship doesn’t come without its’ challenges. My experience as a counsellor and psychotherapist suggests that when couples seek the help of a professional it means that either individually or as part of the couple, you have tried everything you can to improve or make changes in the relationship without much change or success. Now you are at crisis point.
Anxiety is a normal emotion that we all experience, during times of excited anticipation, or at times of being under extreme stress or threat.
Not all anxiety is bad, it is in fact a healthy emotion that we all need as a means of self-preservation and knowing when we might be in danger so that we can respond appropriately.
An acute response to threat is also known as the fight or flight response, this is the feeling we experience when we are faced with something physically or mentally challenging and is a natural human response.
The Impossible Task of People Pleasing
We’ve all been there, agreed to do something or other to help out a friend, a family member or a colleague despite being overexerted and pushed for time. At first, you are more than happy to help, being there for others is meaningful to you, it gives you purpose and it makes up a large part of who you are. But what happens when saying yes comes at a cost to you? Maybe you literally just don’t have the time, your plate is already full, you’re exhausted and thinking about when, if ever, you will get to have a break. Creating some time and space that is just for you is near impossible.
So you’ve made the decision that you need some extra help in coping with some life difficulties. Recognising when you need additional help and support from a counsellor is an empowering and courageous choice.
When you seek your own private therapist it gives you the flexibility of finding somebody who you can trust, as well as meeting some of the practicalities you require.