Someone may have mentioned to you that counselling may be useful for you.
Maybe you've read in the media, or seen on social networks, that talking to someone really helps.
Perhaps someone you know saw a counsellor and it really helped them.
But you just don't feel it will be helpful for you.
Maybe you think it could be useful for you to see a counsellor, and yet something is holding you back.
Perhaps you have found the courage to make that initial call, you've made an appointment but didn't turn up.
As a counsellor I have found that 1 in 4 people who contact me do not arrive for their first appointment, more often they do not let me know and I do not hear from them again.
My hope is they have found an alternative counsellor, but sadly I think many are just not brave enough to take that first step.
When I speak with my clients they often tell me they have been thinking about counselling for a long time, quiet often they tell me they wish they had been brave enough to take the step earlier.
I hear many reasons why people don't think counselling is right for them, or are nervous about counselling.
Below are 5 reasons I hear from people as to why they do not take steps to seek counselling, and why they may be wrong in thinking this.
5 reasons why people might feel counselling is not for them
1. My problems are only small, other people have bigger problems than me.
A problem is a problem, whether big or small. If a problem has an impact on your life and is making life difficult to cope with, then it is a problem that needs to be sorted. Only you know the impact on your life. People see counsellors for a range of problems.Some problems can be resolved in a few sessions, some take longer, but the relief offered once a problem is sorted often means coping with life is easier. Just talking through a problem, or sharing with someone who will not judge you, can lift a huge weight from your shoulders. Counselling helps you to find ways to manage your problems, now and in the future, meaning you have the resilience to cope better if you are faced with similar problems again, you can recall the coping strategies learnt in counselling.
2. I can't afford counselling.
This is often a reason given to me when clients start counselling, and yet by the end most agree the investment in themselves was worth it. There are several ways to access counselling. The NHS offer free counselling services, so your first step may be to visit your GP and discuss your options. Counselling is an investment not just for now, but for the rest of your life, so a small weekly investment now will have ongoing benefits for you.What cost do you put on being able to change your life for ever? Counselling is not just a financial investment, but also an investment of your time and effort. This investment can change your outlook on life, your interactions with others and how you cope with life events. Very often mental health problems can lead to eating disorders, turning to drugs or alcohol, having to take time off work or marriage breakdowns. The cost of these is high, in a damaging way, both emotionally and financially. Counselling is a positive investment that can help prevent costly life events.
3. It is a sign of weakness to see a counsellor.
It takes a lot of courage to admit that you are struggling to cope.Rather than being a sign of weakness it shows strength to ask for help. Counselling is completely confidential, the only person who needs to know you are having counselling is you, if that is what you prefer. Unfortunately, unresolved issues may lead you to withdraw from others, become short-tempered, be afraid to do certain things or lead to panic attacks or emotional breakdown.By trying to cope with your problems on your own you may be finding it more difficult to be the person you want to be, or they may prevent you doing the things you enjoy. It takes strength and courage to admit this may be happening and to ask for help. Many of my clients tell me they had been thinking about counselling for a while and it was only when things became too difficult for them that they were brave enough to seek help. Rather than thinking of asking for help as a sign of weakness, try to look at what the consequences may be of not seeking help.
4. How can just talking help?
This is a very good question and one I am asked time and time again. It is often answered after people have had counselling, when they say to me “Being able to off load the stuff I have been carrying around has really helped, it is like a weight has been lifted”. Talking enables us to say what is in our head out loud to someone, the difference is a counsellor really listens, with no judgment, no interruptions, no interpretations and does not try to ‘fix’ things for you. Talking to family and friends is different, there may be things you do not want to talk about with them, you may be unsure of how they will react, you may not always want to share everything with them. Talking to a counsellor allows you to talk honestly and talk about things you may never have been able to talk about with someone before. A lot of clients tell me what a relief it is to talk about things they may have been carrying around for weeks, months, even years, the relief of sharing has a calming effect. Talking to someone who is trained to listen is a new experience for most. Counselling is designed to let you talk in an open and honest way which helps you process your feelings.
5. I won't know what to talk about
Very often at the first session my clients say “I’m not sure where to start” or “I’m not really sure what I need to talk about” At the end of the session this has often changed to “I didn’t realise how much I had bottled up” or “that was easier than I thought it would be”. There are many different types of counselling approaches and sometimes you may have to try a few counsellors before you find the one you feel comfortable and relaxed with. Once you have found that counsellor who works at your pace, works alongside you and makes you feel comfortable you will feel ready to talk and share with them. A counsellor/client relationship is like most relationships in your life, some are easier than others. You will know when you have found the right counsellor and at that point you will know what you want to share. A counsellor is a trained professional, trained to listen and trained to help you feel comfortable enough to talk.
So, if you feel counselling could be helpful to you what should you do?
Take the time to look at a few counsellor websites
Make a short list of those you feel you could work with
Phone to make an appointment, or e-mail or text if phoning is difficult for you
The counsellor will make an appointment for an initial consultation.
It will be natural for you to be nervous at this first appointment, the counsellor may be a little nervous too, this is the first time you have met each other. You want to find someone you can work with; the counsellor wants to be able to help you.
At the consultation does the counsellor make you feel comfortable? do you feel you could trust them and be honest with them?
If it feels right, talk about booking further sessions.
Don't rush yourself to talk about things if you are not ready. Your counsellor will work with you at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
Counselling is an investment in yourself, for now and the future.
Laura Knight Dip.Couns MBACP is a qualified and experienced counsellor based in Poole, Dorset. Her private practice SeeClear Counselling offers affordable, professional counselling when you need it most. www.seeclearcounselling.co.uk.