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.



COUNSELLING FORMATS


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.


Online counselling

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

· Depression

· Domestic Abuse

· Eating Concerns / Self-Esteem / Body Image

· Expat & Relocation Issues

· Grief and Loss

· Life Transitions

· Loneliness or Social Isolation

· Relationship Issues

· Sexuality

· Suicidality

· 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:

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 Therapy:

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:

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.




Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) was developed by Steve de Shazer (1940-2005), and Insoo Kim Berg (1934-2007) in collaboration with their colleagues at the Milwaukee Brief Family Therapy Center beginning in the late 1970s. SFBT is a short-term goal-focused evidence-based therapeutic approach, which incorporates positive psychology principles and practices, and which helps clients change by constructing solutions rather than focusing on problems. In the most basic sense, SFBT is a hope friendly, positive emotion eliciting, future-oriented vehicle for formulating, motivating, achieving, and sustaining desired behavioural change.


Best for: child behavioural problems, family dysfunction, domestic or child abuse, addiction, and relationship problems.




Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was founded by Steven Hayes and encourages people to embrace their thoughts and feelings rather than fighting or feeling guilty for them. It may seem confusing at first, but ACT paired with mindfulness-based therapy offers clinically effective treatment.


Best for: workplace stress, test anxiety, social anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and psychosis. It has also been used to help treat medical conditions such as chronic pain, substance abuse, and diabetes.




WHAT SHOULD I KNOW BEFORE ATTENDING COUNSELLING / THERAPY?


· Think about what you want to get out of therapy, if you’re not sure but just know something is off, you can say that to your counsellor

· What issues would you like to work through, again if you're unsure, tell your counsellor that

· What goals would you like to achieve throughout your therapy journey?

· If you have previously attending therapy / counselling, what worked for you and what didn’t?

· Make a commitment to attending your therapy sessions – if for any reason you can’t make a session, let your therapist know as soon as possible.

· Bring your emotions to sessions and allow yourself to get upset.

· Be you and bring your personality to sessions, don’t feel scared as it’s your safe space with no judgement and confidentiality.

· Use your sessions for you and focus on what you want not what someone else wants for you.

· Use sessions to identify patterns and practice solutions outside of sessions.

· Make your environment relaxed, bring a blanket, tissues, a hot drink to reduce anxiety.




WHAT’S IMPORTANT AFTER THERAPY?

· Shake your body to release any built-up tension.

· Go for a walk or move your body, take yourself into another environment so you don’t sit in your thoughts or emotions.

· Get a cuppa tea to sip and relax.

· Reflect on what you learnt through journaling.

· Take a few deep breaths or do a quick meditation and focus on any heaviness in your chest.

· Remind yourself of your bravery and courage to show up to sessions and be proud of yourself for working on you.

· Let the tears out – listen to your favourite song, chat with a friend / loved one, watch your favourite movie or cook your favourite meal.

· Be kind to yourself.

· Take a note on what you would like to discuss and work through in your next session.

· Remind yourself that you won’t feel better after 1 session as it is a work in progress.





When searching for a therapist it’s important that you work with a professional who specialises in the issues and areas you would like to work through and ensure you feel connected with them.


The Flawed Journey currently have 2 qualified therapists available to assist individuals online providing sessions via both phone call and zoom video call. If you are struggling with your mental health, you can reach out to our team for a free 20-minute phone call consultation where we can further discuss how we can help you.


For 24/7 and emergency resources please click here

This post was written by @quigleyslife The Flawed Journey's content creator and Emma our Founder. If you have any requests or suggestions for blog content, you can get in touch with Claire here



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