What is Counselling? And why go?
WHAT IS COUNSELLING?
Counselling is a talking therapy that is focused on supporting individuals to identify problems and difficult feelings they encounter in a safe, confidential environment. The term can mean different things to different people, but in general, it is a process people seek when they want to change something in their lives, or simply explore their thoughts and feelings in more depth.
Contrary to popular opinion counselling is not only for when we are in dire straits or going through a traumatic time, it could be changes in work we’re struggling with, life changes e.g., moving to a new city or things just feel ‘off’ and we can’t quite figure out why.
Talking therapies help us to understand and make positive changes to our thinking, behaviour, feelings, relationships, and emotional well-being. Talking about our thoughts, feelings and issues is an important way of dealing with them.
Why is Counselling different to talking with family / friends? Our friends and family can often help us, but sometimes we may need the help of a professional therapist as they are trained to listen carefully, and they will help you to find your own answers. A professional therapist is also a safe space, one step removed from our inner circle. Therapists can offer additional insight as an outsider, and there is no fear of issues discussed being repeated among friends or family. We find people are more honest about their more difficult feelings when there is no fear of recourse i.e., their words being ‘thrown back at them’ or repeated to someone else.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COUNSELLING & PSYCHOTHERAPY?
Counselling focuses on problem solving or on learning techniques for coping with or avoiding specific problem areas. Counseling is usually more short-term than therapy e.g., a stressful project at work that we need strategies in place to manage but will end in six months.
Psychotherapy is more long-term than counseling and focuses on a broader range of issues. The underlying principle is that a person's patterns of thinking and behavior affect the way that person interacts with the world e.g., finding all projects overwhelming as the ability to manage stress in general is impaired.
Depending on the specific type of psychotherapy that is being used, the goal is to help people feel better equipped to manage stresses, understand patterns in their behavior that may interfere with reaching personal goals, have more satisfying relationships, and better regulate their thinking and emotional responses to stressful situations.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN COUNSELLING & THERAPY
· Development of a healing, safe, and therapeutic relationship between a therapist and an individual.
· Effectiveness for a wide range of people, both adults and children.
· Understanding a person's feelings and behaviors and addressing issues with the goal of improving a person's life.
Face-to-face / In-person
This is when you make an appointment with a counsellor or therapist to see them in person, usually at their practice. Face-to-face sessions are one of the more popular therapy formats because they provide an opportunity for you to react to any emotions that arise there and then.
This is where you will have sessions with a counsellor or therapist online either via phone call or video conference platforms that enable you to have sessions from the comfort of your home. This form of counselling can be particularly useful for those too busy to attend face-to-face sessions or individuals who are travelling abroad for work, living abroad as an expat or for those who live remote and not able to access services face-to-face.
HOW CAN THERAPY HELP?
Talking therapies can help people who are distressed by difficult events from the past or present, people with mental health issues or people who want to understand themselves better.
Talking therapies can help with depression, anxiety, obsessions, panic, phobias and relationship issues. They can help with grief and other emotions such as anger or shame. Talking therapies can also help with chronic physical conditions, alcohol, smoking, drug and gambling issues, along with complex mental health issues.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED THERAPY?
*top tip, almost everyone can benefit from therapy in some way
· Issues are negatively affecting your life, work & relationships.
· You might feel like you have too many things to do or too many issues to cope with.
· Current issues have caused your quality of life to decrease.
· You are loosing hope or motivation, feeling as though you have no future can indicate depression or another mental health condition.
· You are feeling triggered by others around you or by social media, news.
· It's normal to worry from time to time but when worry takes up a significant part of your day or causes physical symptoms, therapy can help you deal with it.
· Fatigue can cause you to sleep more than usual or have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
· Everyone feels angry at times. Even passing rage isn't necessarily harmful but seeking support to deal with these feelings may be a good idea when they don't pass or if they lead you to take violent or potentially harmful actions.
· You are struggling to find healthy coping mechanisms.
COUNSELLING & THERAPY CAN HELP WITH COMMON ISSUES:
· Addiction & Substance Abuse
· Anger Management
· Anxiety & Stress
· Behavioural Issues & Mood Changes
· Break – ups
· Childhood Abuse
· Coping Skills
· Domestic Abuse
· Eating Concerns / Self-Esteem / Body Image
· Expat & Relocation Issues
· Grief and Loss
· Life Transitions
· Loneliness or Social Isolation
· Relationship Issues
· Trauma / PTSD
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?
Sessions are about working on any underlying issues and it’s important to understand that it does take time for results to occur. In therapy we unravel the emotions surrounding any issues and to identify the crux of the problem. As every individual is different, and it depends on what you’re wanting to achieve from your Counselling / therapy journey, the time spent varies hugely. Counselling sessions can last from weeks to months and therapy sessions tend to last months or years due to the issues being a lot more in depth and it taking a longer period of time to work through issues from our past rather than those in our present.
It is important to note that therapy can be a lifelong practice, much like yoga or the gym it is something we can dip in and out of throughout our lives when things are particularly challenging. A common misconception is “I’m fixed now I never need to go again” and much like if we complete a six week challenge at the gym, and never attend a gym again we will lose our fitness, if we check out of therapeutic practice completely, we are hindering our future growth.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CLIENT & THERAPIST?
The relationship you and your therapist develop together will have a major impact on how much talking therapy will help you solve your issues and make positive changes in your life. It has been shown that the ‘type’ of therapy used only accounts for approximately 15% of the success of therapy, and the relationship with your therapist accounts for the other 85%.
At first you may find it hard to talk about your private life with a therapist. Many people feel nervous when they try something new. It helps to think of your therapist as a caring person who you can trust and who has an objective point of view. Therapists are trained professionals who won’t judge you or tell anyone else what you talk about.
Therapy is a partnership. Like any relationship with another person, successful therapy depends on open, honest communication. A good relationship is based on trust, respect, a willingness to listen to each other, and a commitment to work together even when this feels difficult.
A therapist is not there to tell you what to do or solve your issues for you. However, they will work with you to develop any skills and knowledge that you need to deal with your issues. A therapist is a professional and is not in any way a friend who can be contacted outside of therapy sessions.
TYPES OF THERAPY
Person-centred therapy, also known as person-centred or client-centred counselling is a form of talk therapy that was developed by humanist psychologist Carl Rogers during the 1940s and 1950s. This approach deals with the ways in which individuals perceive themselves consciously, rather than how a counsellor can interpret their unconscious thoughts or ideas. Person-centred therapy involves the client doing the bulk of talking and the counsellor providing a safe space for them to discuss what’s going on for them. The counsellor in this environment does not give advice or even speak much, but assists the client to find their own solutions.
Best for: individuals who are experiencing situational stressors, depression, and anxiety or who are working through issues related to personality disorders.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT was developed by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s and focuses on the here and now. It provides practical strategies to try between sessions to break the cycle which maintains someone’s difficulties. We use techniques to change your thoughts, beliefs and behaviours in order to see a change in your emotions, physiology and achieve a specific goal.
Best for: anxiety disorders, depression, low self-esteem, problem solving, minor relationship difficulties.
Psychodynamic was developed by Sigmund Freud between the 1890s and the 1930s and focuses more on the deeper routed nature of a person’s difficulties and looks at how early life relationships (childhood) influence us now in terms of our interpersonal relationships and how we deal with our emotions. This therapy can offer practical tools to try also however it is usually less structured than CBT.
Best for: Recurrent depression or anxiety, interpersonal problems, relationship difficulties, increasing self-awareness, childhood emotional neglect, attachment issues, low self-esteem, addictions.
Gestalt therapy was developed by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s and 1950s. Gestalt is a form of psychotherapy which emphasises personal responsibility, and focuses upon the individual's experience in the present moment, the therapist–client relationship, along with the environmental and social contexts of a person's life, and the self-regulating adjustments people make as a result of their overall situation.
Best for: anxiety, depression, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, and even physical ones like migraine headaches, ulcerative colitis, and back spasms.