Let’s face it, approaching a Counsellor can seem a daunting prospect, especially if you are already in an anxious state of mind. So why would anyone talk to a counsellor? Some of the reasons given for not talking to one could be:-
• I should be able cope by myself
• I don’t want to talk about personal stuff with a stranger
• I don’t want someone giving me their opinion and advice
• I don’t have money to spare
• I don’t have the time
I should be able to cope by myself-
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to cope, often with the underlying belief that we must be weak if we can’t. Yet in other areas of life we don’t hesitate to seek support. For instance, if your boiler broke down you most likely would get an expert engineer in to fix it. Counsellors usually go through at least 4 years of intensive training to be able to support people who are in emotional distress. There can be a lot of fear and shame associated with asking for help and it might seem easier for some to struggle on feeling stuck and unable to cope than to admit they need help.
I don’t want to talk about personal stuff with a stranger –
A key principle of counselling is that the person you are speaking to is not connected to your life outside the counselling room. This allows for a neutral space where you can talk openly without the fear of being judged for what you are saying. Talking to supportive family and friends can be helpful but we often factor in their feelings and judgements, which can mean we hold back from saying what we truly believe or feel. Trust is also important which is why it is important to choose a fully qualified counsellor who is a member of a recognised professional body (such as the BACP) and therefore works to their code of ethics in terms of confidentiality etc. All counsellors found on the Counselling Directory: http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/ meet this standard.
I don’t want someone giving me their opinion or advice –
It can be very frustrating when you approach a friend or partner in the hope of getting their understanding and empathy but instead you get their opinion and/or advice. There is sometimes the misunderstanding that counselling involves explaining what your problem is and then the counsellor wisely sits back in their chair and tells you what you should do.
Counselling is about talking through what is going on for you and helping you gain the understanding and self-awareness to make choices, decisions and changes for yourself. For a more detailed explanation of What is Counselling and How It Works see: http://www.mariameadcounselling.co.uk/what-is-counselling/
I don’t have money to spare –
It is true that most counselling costs money. It is possible to get some free counselling through the NHS although there is usually a waiting list and the number of sessions are limited. Some charities also offer free support, which tends to be for specific issues, such as Cruse who deal with bereavement. The average cost for a 50 minute session of counselling in London is around £50. Many counsellors offer a limited number of reduced fee sessions for those unable to pay the full rate. We often spend money on things that give us short term happiness. Counselling is not a short term fix. It is a process through which we can discover the tools to be able to manage our emotions and anxieties more easily, to see things in proportion to how they are, to stop repeating destructive patterns of behaviour, to make better choices and ultimately to bring about more meaning and joy into our lives.
I don’t have the time –
In an already jam packed week, finding time to get to see a counsellor can seem almost impossible for some. However, creating space and time in the week for your own well-being can make a big difference to your life. If you are used to prioritising others before yourself this might not come naturally to you. Hopefully you should be able to find someone close to your home via the Counselling Directory and many counsellors now offer on-line counselling which can save on both travel and time.
Having read this blog you may still be wondering why anyone would talk to a counsellor, and it is important to recognise that counselling isn’t for everyone. But for those who are ready to take a leap of faith and give it a try counselling could be the best investment you ever make in your life.