What is Counselling? Part 2 by Alex Baldock

There remains a stigma around mental health or therapy or counselling.

We are not the stereotypical rich white American who is in therapy from childhood.  And whilst that is perhaps a relief, there is also something to be said in their willingness to let go of all their **** so they can walk away feeling better prepared to deal with the rest of their lives.

We tend to question more and are more resistant and defensive; why do I need counselling?  If I’m in therapy there is something wrong with me.  I don’t have mental health issues.

And it’s not about that.

Counselling is about letting go, self-awareness, and moving on.

There doesn’t have to be anything wrong, although there could be.  There doesn’t have to be a need for counselling, it could be a want.  Mental health is our day to day health, not necessarily having to deal with something major.

In any case, the therapeutic relationship with your counsellorwill help you to work through whatever you feel you want to.

My first experience of talking to a counsellor was not a good one.  I was nervous and anxious about being there, and whilst the counsellor was perfectly pleasant, I did not warm to them.  The counsellor essentially said, ‘Right, here we are, off you go’, and expected me to just get on and talk, which was way out of my comfort zone.  I had no idea what was expected of me, and stumbled uncomfortably through that session, leaving with relief to get out of there rather than relief at having lightened my emotional load.

A subsequent counsellor worked better for me.  Their approach was more engaging and conversational, not making me do all the work in the session.  They were willing to give of themselves if I asked them a question, rather than bat it back to me or offer surprise at my impertinent enquiry.  It felt a better, more human interaction, and, though I often came away thinking deeply about what had been said, I always had a little bounce in my step.

The most important aspect when approaching counselling, therefore, is to find someone you feel comfortable with.  Because, after all, it is likely you will talk about personal stuff and to do that with any old Tom, Dick, or Harriet is not going to happen.

Be brave with your self as well.  If you don’t feel as though the relationship with your counsellor is working, then don’t stick with it.  It’s nobody’s fault.  In the same way as you get on with some people and not others, you will take more from working with one counsellor compared to another.

Ultimately, whatever we do to help ourselves we go into it with our own goals in mind about what we want from it.  Embrace this Americanism and take the next step; let go, learn about yourself, and move on.

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