Often people will wonder how counselling can help them, how will they benefit from accessing counselling?
Counselling will not be for everyone, but it can help many. The counselling starts as soon as a person walks into the room, do they appear confident? Or do they come across as timid? Do they move the chair to suit? Can they maintain eye contact?
As soon as a person speaks, you can sense certain things like vulnerability, guardedness, scepticism, or hope for example. There generally tends to be themes initially during counselling and often if you explore these themes that you observe, the person can maybe identify how they have a tendency to be assertive, timid, accepting, guarded and so on in general.
I have rolled with the resistance of guarded, defensive people and informed them that I respect them and will work at their pace, the discussions, topics, will be led by them, with no pressure at all. Comments of that nature can at times completely break through guardedness and lead to a therapeutic flow, maybe some people have not had much experience of being respected or valued?
For some it can feel uncomfortable accepting a full hour of attention, maybe they are not familiar with having too much attention? Or maybe some have not had much positive, healthy, safe attention from others. Some find that when someone really wants to listen to their story, when they feel a sense of safety and trust; that can actually be something that can literally ‘blow someone away’ if they have not experienced that throughout their life. That leads to the counselling being a good space for someone to learn the importance of being valued and how to seek that in interactions with others.
Some people have had very loving backgrounds and have had everything done for them, but feel inadequate and fear responsibility and have low self esteem as a result. Some may lack motivation totally, due to being able to get what they want or need through others, but then feel a void from a lack of achievement.
Some may have learnt to be angry and guarded, this defence may leave them feeling protected from the risk of hurt, but totally detached and void of most feelings, or isolated due to relationships breaking down.
The list could go on and on.
Specific traumas are easier to identify that there may be a need for help. Often some will feel there is just something missing, that they just can not find happiness, that they lack motivation, but have no understanding why and see no justification for it. Counselling is a space where that can be explored and any unsatisfactory feelings worked on.
If you can talk about painful experiences with some ease, without being under the influence of substances, then you may not need to work on that specific issue. Counselling is a good way to help people work through painful experiences safely. Often people will not see the point of ‘dragging up’ their past, preferring to keep things ‘buried’. Fear of facing your past is an indication you may need help. Often leaving things ‘buried’ simply means you are carrying heavy emotions that could feel lighter, with some help to talk them through.
If you do access support and at some point feel worse for a period of time, that is the counselling actually working, as you process hurt feelings that may have been ‘buried’. That is only temporary and once a person works through those feelings, they start to feel much better. It is similar to feeling sick, you just don’t feel right, don’t feel too good, it can affect how you function. If you then actually begin to vomit, it feels bad, it is not pleasant, but then afterwards you just feel so much better. That is similar to the emotional release that can take place during counselling. Initially a person may come for help, due to not feeling too good in general, as they explore painful issues they may not feel too good, but afterwards the person will report that they feel better, lighter.
Counsellors are well trained to work with a person at their own pace, so nothing can be explored unless the person feels ready to lead that exploration. If a counsellor feels that certain topics are being avoided, they will state that, but there will be no pressure to explore that further, unless a client feels ready and makes the choice to.
Often people will wait until breaking point, or they may never seek help. Some have gone through life being self sufficient, so can not bring themselves to ask for help, for some that is a huge step. Some may have enablers that do most things for them, that help them stay stuck in dysfunction and therefore stop them hitting the rock bottom that usually comes right before admitting help is needed.
If you feel like you exist, rather than live, then counselling could really switch that around.
It is worth having one or two sessions if you are curious and wondering if counselling can help. If you don’t feel good in general or can identify specific painful experiences and want to come for your own benefit and not to satisfy a significant other, then it is highly likely that you will gain something from counselling.
Sometimes counselling is simply about finding out who you are and breaking away from who you would like to appear to be. Often that is what leads to people feeling lost, empty, like something is missing; often that something missing is the true self. We can get so caught up with putting up a ‘front’ a ‘mask’ and so far away from simply ‘being’. It can become exhausting and confusing for people to keep up this charade of who they would like to be and often clients find life so easy and simple, when they learn how to simply ‘be’. The problem for many is that they do not feel good enough, so people work hard to develop these ‘fronts’ (defences)…..I could go onto self esteem and the negative aspects of external self esteem……….
Counselling is as unique as each individual, with a set of ethics that remain constant. Try it, it is good to talk. Holding things to yourself, will just lead to thoughts going round and round in your head, distracting you. Talk it through with a counsellor, get new perspectives, identify underlying causes, patterns and simply find yourself.
Often we neglect working on feelings and get caught up trying to distract from how we feel. In counselling you can learn to identify your feelings and manage them better.
Feelings can not kill us, but sometimes the things we do to avoid feelings can. I have learnt that from my work in rehabs. Stay safe and take good care