How can Counselling help?
At different times in our lives we can all feel miserable, sad or have a low mood, sometimes there is a cause for this, and we know what it is. Hopefully we have friends or family that we can talk to, and we are able to get back to normal in a short time.
Sometimes though, we are not able to shake the mood, and this turns into a long term condition that we struggle with. No matter how much our friends and family want to help, after a certain amount of time, they can run out of ideas and perhaps we don’t feel that we want to burden them anymore.
Going to see a professional counsellor can make all the difference. It is sometimes easier to talk to a non-judgmental, empathic person about your deepest feelings and fears, than talking to someone who knows you and is involved in your life. A counsellor is trained to objectively recognise behaviour and thought patterns, and gently challenge them at the right time, to give you insight into what may be happening in your unconscious mind.
Life is not easy, and in these modern times we are led to believe that we should be happy all the time, but that is not realistic, happiness is living a rich and meaningful life, which includes pleasure, satisfaction, love, friendship, but also pain, sadness, fear, anger and ultimately death.
Counselling can help you to become more resilient when these challenging emotions, feelings and situations occur.
People are given space to understand who they really are, therapy is not easy, but in a safe, confidential and supportive environment, it allows you to experience a myriad of emotions in a secure and holding therapeutic relationship.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN IT HELP?
- Depression – this is more than feeling sad or unhappy for a few days, it can happen as a result of a life changing event or combination of events, it could be linked to hormones, the menopause, or you could be clinically pre-disposed to it. It’s not something that you can snap out of, and it’s not a sign of weakness. It’s an illness bringing acute sadness and despair, and many people feel that life is not worth living, and other people would be better off without them.
Counselling can help by firstly helping you to understand what depression is, and how it affects you, this alone can help to relieve the distress. It can help you confront difficult issues, and process them in a safe space.
- Anxiety – is characterised by a feeling of unease, worry and fear, and can bring with it unpleasant physical symptoms, and at it’s worst full blown panic attacks, which can make you feel that you are dying. It is natural to feel anxious at times, as we need the fight, freeze or flight state to get us out of hazardous situations. When anxiety gets out of control however, and affects our everyday life, preventing us from having that full and meaningful life that we desire.
Counselling can help with unhelpful anxiety in several ways. Mindfulness, can rewire the brains’ neural pathways and help you to relax more, Acceptance and Commitment therapy, and CBT can give insight into how your anxiety is triggered, and give you strategies to manage them, and by addressing the underlying causes, the symptoms of anxiety can greatly lesson, and sometimes disappear altogether.
- Relationship problems – being in a relationship, no matter what kind, means being close to others and exposing our vulnerabilities. Relationship problems occur when we are unable to do this either because of a lack of trust, our trust has been broken, there has been physical, emotional or mental abuse, a fear of emotional intimacy, and many other reasons.
Counselling can help people to connect with another person in a trusting safe relationship, where they can explore their deepest fears and feelings. They can process events and issues that have come up for them and it can help them to examine objectively what they want their future to look like, and what sort of relationship they want.
I work on relationship issues with both individuals, and couples, and this is not limited to romantic relationships. Parent and child, siblings or friends can also benefit from relationship counselling. Relationships don't have to have encountered problems for you to benefit from counselling, it can also be very useful for couples planning a life together, to ensure that you both know what to expect from each other and the relationship, and can better anticipate any problems that may arise in the future, so that you are able to ride the storms that inevitably will arise.
- Low Confidence/Self-esteem is a major blockage to being able to live a rich and meaningful life, and brings feelings of despair, sadness, and unhelpful internal self-talking. It can lead us to the feeling that we don’t know who we are anymore, that we don’t deserve nice things.
Counselling can help by working with you to learn self compassion, and to enable you to see and understand yourself, and be able to see the worthiness of you, and your place in the world.
- Bereavement by its very nature is distressing, and has a profound effect on our lives, in some cases life is never “normal” again. There is no time limit for grief, some people find they can have a short period of grief, then life gets back to a new normal and they are able to cope. Other people grieve for longer, and friends and family can start to lose patience and are not able to understand why that person is unable to resume a normal life.
If grief is a problem for you, counselling can help by figuratively ‘holding your hand’ through the grieving process, to help you to express the emotions that you are feeling, and to help you to move towards that new normal that your life will become.
- Chronic Childhood trauma in adults/Adverse Childhood experiences - This occurs when there have been several episodes of trauma throughout the childhood years. If, for example, you have witnessed a parent being subjected to physical or emotional abuse, or if you yourself have been at the receiving end, although it doesn't necessarily have to be abuse, the death of a close family member, can also cause trauma. Following trauma of any kind, it is very easy for the minds' defences to shut down the conscious mind, and we feel as if we have dealt with the situation, only for problems to resurface in adulthood, either following another trauma which resonates with the emotions we felt as a child, or simply the mind has decided this is the time to deal with them, and we start to struggle with severe anxiety and/or panic attacks.
Treating trauma has to be approached with great care, so as not to re-traumatise the person, it is not a quick fix, and each problem that arises throughout therapy has to be dealt with as it arises. It has to be done in an atmosphere of safety and security, the counsellor may have to "re-parent" the person, and slowly build a trusting relationship. I have done a considerable amount of training and have extensive experience in treating trauma by using the REWIND method, which is very successful with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) when experiencing flashbacks/nightmares, Polyvagal Theory, which works holistically with the whole body, as trauma affects us physically as well as emotionally, as well as working with the inner child and dissociated parts of selves. Working in this way helps process and understand the trauma, (the actual details of the trauma do not have to be discussed) and enables us to manage symptoms as they arise and move forward in a more healthy way.
BENEFITS OF COUNSELLING
No one can wave a magic wand to totally get rid of your problems, but in learning to accept that they are a normal part of living and having that rich and meaningful life, building resilience to help you to cope when problems occur, learning how to be compassionate towards yourself and being able to see the issues realistically, they will sometimes go away with very little fuss.
By being able to stop struggling with them, and putting your attention into activities that you value, your life will be so much more rich and meaningful.