Continuing with the Counselling Alphabet we now look at letters N to T
N for NATURE
Increasing the time you spend outdoors close to NATURE can have a positive effect on your mental health.
People experiencing problems, such as anxiety, stress and depression, reported feeling significantly better, both emotionally and physically, after taking part in outdoor nature conservation projects, according to research by Leeds Beckett University.
The stress of an unpleasant environment can cause you to feel anxious, or sad, or helpless. This in turn elevates your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension and suppresses your immune system. Spending time close to NATURE can reverse that.
Exposure to NATURE not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists.
But it's not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing. It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover
Being outside in natural light can also be helpful if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects people during particular seasons or times of year.
Starting to introduce regular visits to places rich with nature such as forests and woodland can boost your mental health. We can all find a little bit of nature to visit wherever we live and when you do, take in everything about the environment don’t just take it for granted, the more you interact with nature the more you will benefit.
Some counsellors offer Eco-therapy and walk and talk therapy which involve you being outside and connecting with nature during your counselling session.
O is for OCD.
Many people have obsessive or compulsive parts of their personality but if they do not have too much of an effect on your day to day life it does not mean you have OCD.
For example many people will worry that a door is locked properly or prefer things in a particularly neat or organised fashion.
However, if your thoughts or actions are so severe that they affect your day to day life, a doctor may diagnose you with OCD.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has two main parts: obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly enter your mind. They can make you feel very anxious.
Compulsion A repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought
OCD It's not about being tidy or conscientious it's about having no control over your negative thoughts. It's about being afraid that not doing things a certain way will cause harm.
If you experience OCD, it's likely that your obsessions and compulsions will have a big impact on how you live your life.
There are many different types of obsessions and compulsions that someone might experience, too many to mention here.
If you feel something is obsessively on your mind and you have no control over it and because of the thoughts you repetitively do things you can’t control, and this is having a serious impact on your day to day life, than you may want to seek help from your GP or a counsellor.
P is for PSYCHOTHERAPY
The dictionary definition of psychotherapy is ‘the treatment of mental disorder by psychological rather than medical means.’
Psychotherapy is a general term for treating mental health problems by talking with a professional.
Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, alongside a therapeutic relationship, to help a person change behavior and overcome problems in desired ways.
Psychotherapy aims to improve an individual's well-being and mental health.
People often ask what is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy, and if truth be known, generally there is not a great deal of difference. Both are talking therapies that aim to enable clients, to understand their feelings which can equip them to cope with difficult situations in a more adaptive way.
It is often said that counselling is more short term, dealing with your presenting problems, and psychotherapy may be longer term and deal with past problems to help you better understand your behaviours and relationships with others.
In my practice I work with what the client brings, sometimes a short course of CBT may help to manage the problems you are facing, other times a range of psychological theories such as Person Centred, Transactional Analysis or Gestalt, may dig deeper and look at your past to help you make sense of what is happening for you today.
Counsellors or Psychotherapists cannot medically diagnose you, this is the role of a psychiatrist, but they do understand the symptoms of your mental health problems and help you find ways to manage these better.
Counselling or Psychotherapy is an accessible way of getting confidential help when life becomes a little too difficult to manage, you do not have to have a mental health problem to access psychotherapy, it may be you are just going through a difficult time and need some help making sense of your emotions and what to do next.
Through psychotherapy/counselling you will solve the problem that brought you there and you will learn new skills so you can better cope with challenges that arise in the future.
Q is a difficult letter so I thought I would focus on Q for QUESTIONS- what kind of questions should you ask a counsellor if you are interested in their services.
I know a lot of people are quite scared to approach a counsellor for help, so if you are prepared with a few questions it might be helpful.
I would suggest some of the following are good questions to ask
1. Are you a qualified counsellor?
Bizarrely anyone can advertise themselves as a counsellor even if they have had no training! To ensure you are in safe hands ask them what qualifications they have, I have a CPCAB level 4 diploma in Therapeutic Counselling.
2. Are they a registered counsellor?
A counsellor is unable to register themselves with a membership body if they are not properly qualified so this can be an additional check for you. Being registered means the counsellor will work within certain standards and an ethical framework. I am registered with the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
3.What do you charge?
You don’t want to start counselling and then realise you can’t afford to carry on, so check you can afford the fees. Some counsellors may offer a reduced rate or free initial session/telephone assessment. Some counsellors may be able to offer a sliding scale of charges, if for example you are on a low income/benefits.
I offer the first session at half price, this means you can decide if you want to work with me without spending a lot of money.
4. What experience do you have working with..... ? (insert your problem here)
If you have something specific you want to work on it’s good to know if they have training, experience and success in working with clients like you. Some problems such as eating disorders, addiction, trauma etc can be complex to work with and so finding a counsellor with the right training and experience will improve the outcomes you can achieve.
I specialise in working with Anxiety, I am an approved Anxiety UK therapist. I also have training and experience of working with trauma and childhood abuse.
By asking the right QUESTIONS you will ensure you are working with a qualified and registered counsellor who is best placed to help you with the problem you want to work on.
I will also say that having a good relationship with your counsellor, and finding someone you feel comfortable with, will make a big difference to the results you will get.
Shall we take a look at R for Relationships.
People often look for relationship counselling when their romantic relationship is in difficulty.
However discussing relationships in counselling isn’t just for couples, and relationships are regularly discussed in individual counselling sessions.
Think of the number of different relationships we have in life and the impact those relationships have on our life, particularly if they are difficult relationships.
*relationships with your work colleagues *relationships with family members *relationships with loved ones *relationships with friends *building relationships with new acquaintances
Being able to discuss the various relationships in your life through counselling can be helpful in managing your mental health.
Difficult relationships can cause you anxiety, stress, depression or other difficulties.
Having a space to discuss these relationship difficulties with someone who does not know these other people and can listen without judgement can help you make decisions on how you would like to manage these relationships.
Communication is key for successful relationships and counselling can certainly help with how you communicate to yourself and others the emotional difficulty you may sometimes face in relationships.
If you are struggling with a particular relationship in life and would like some help processing what it means for you and how you might be able to change any negative effect it has on you, then counselling can help.
S and quite a heavy subject Suicide, but an important one because learning how to help someone who has suicidal thoughts or intention could save someone’s life.
One of the biggest things to know is that if someone mentions they are thinking about suicide start to talk to them and listen to them.
Suicide is preventable and suicidal thoughts are often temporary and can be interrupted.
A simple question or observation can be all it takes to interrupt suicidal thoughts and start the journey to recovery.
The majority of people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die - they just do not want to live the life they have.
Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won't push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings.
1 in 5 people have thought about suicide at some time in their life. And not all people who die by suicide have mental health problems at the time they die.
Suicide can be a taboo topic. Often, people who are feeling suicidal don’t want to worry or burden anyone with how they feel and so they don’t discuss it.
But, by asking someone directly about suicide, you give them permission to tell you how they feel. People who have felt suicidal will often say what a huge relief it was to be able to talk about what they were experiencing.
Once someone starts talking they’ve got a better chance of discovering options that aren't suicide.
For more information The Samaritans website has a helpful page for anyone worried that someone they know is feeling suicidal. This page includes a list of warning signs that you may notice, although there might not be any signs or you might not be able to tell.
The important thing to remember is if someone mentions they feel like they would like to die, take them seriously, let them talk about it, it could just be a cry for help but knowing someone is willing to listen is their first step to getting support.
Once they have been able to open up about their feelings you can signpost them for additional help
Ask them to contact their GP or call a help line who can signpost them to more help.
Samaritans – for everyone Call 116 123
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day Visit the webchat page
Childline – for children and young people under 19 Call 0800 1111 – the number won't show up on your phone bill
If you do have a difficult conversation with someone seek help yourself also.
If you are having suicidal thoughts yourself, talking with someone is the best thing you can do. If you feel unable to talk to someone you know asking to talk with a counsellor could be useful to you.
T is for Transactional Analysis
Transactional analysis is a form of psychology founded by Eric Berne.
There are a number of aspects to Transactional Analysis and I enjoy using its concepts and tools with my clients.
I find the PAC model is particularly helpful to gain an understanding about the transactions you have with others.
PAC stands for 3 ego states that we all have and an understanding of these ego states can bring us a better understanding of ourselves and improve the communication (transactions) we have with others.
The 3 ego states in the PAC model are
PARENT - Our thoughts, feelings and behaviours that we usually learnt from our parents or other responsible adults. These can be critical or nurturing
ADULT - thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are in direct response to the ‘here & now’. This is the most rational behaviour.
CHILD - thoughts, feelings and behaviours similar to those we had in childhood. These can be playful, rebellious or adapting.
It is useful to start to understand when you move between these Ego states and how your thoughts, feelings and behaviour change.
If you can identify this in others too you can start to understand how communications can be affected when you are in different ego states.
Do you ever feel like someone is being critical of you ( like a parent) and you react like a child (you sulk)?
This is PAC model in very simple terms.
Learning more about Transactional analysis can help you learn more about yourself and others.
Look out for my next Blog with letters U-Z. Or visit my social media sites wwww.facebook.com/seeclearcounselling to read more.
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.
At Seeclear Counselling I offer evening and weekend appointments from my comfortable therapy room in Parkstone, Poole and would be happy to talk to you about how we can work together to manage your symptoms and help you back to full mental health, whether you have suffered a knock back, or feel you may have been struggling for a while.
I specialise in working with anxiety and trauma.
Please call, text or E-mail me to book an appointment 07975 733029 firstname.lastname@example.org