*This week’s blog is a guest post from Bob Brotchie of Anglia Counselling*
What is counselling?
Receiving ‘counsel’ is something most of us undertake each day from friends, loved ones, or colleagues. In a formal counselling session the difference comes from the impartial and non-judgemental behaviour of the counsellor, who does not have the inevitable vested interests of people who know you, and their specialist listening skills. Commencing a course of counselling opens up all kinds of possibilities to unpack your emotional suitcase, start a journey into the real you, and closely examine how any area in your life can be improved.
As with any physical symptoms, the sooner you address dysfunction in the processes of your mind, the more likely you are to achieve rapid and sustainable repair. Even those who have suffered long term distress can find release, start to relax, and learn new ways to respond and react differently to circumstances that currently cause them to withdraw or be fearful.
Who is counselling for?
Counselling can be useful for anyone, and everyone. Whether you are considered ‘successful’ and ‘normal’ or you have an annoying niggling emotional issue that is interrupting your life, such as a past emotional or physical trauma, issues with relationships, self-esteem, anxiety, low-moods/depression, stresses, or anything at all that is leaving you feeling that you are functioning at less than your true ability, counselling may enable you to take a step back and consider what is stopping you from achieving your potential, and ways to make a change. When you’re going through tough times like divorce, counselling can be a valuable outlet for your emotions and can help you gently brush through the tangle of feelings and fears you have.
There are a number of different schools of counselling, and different counsellors tend to specialise in different areas, often also offering differing levels of intensity depending on the symptoms involved. There are in excess of 100 therapy models, and it is worth doing some research on what might suit you, or what you might expect from your chosen therapist. Whatever type of therapy you choose, usually each session will last around 50 minutes.
Choosing your therapist
It is important to feel comfortable with the therapist you choose, and most will offer an initial meeting where the two of you can get to know each other, free of charge, and decide whether you are likely to be able to work together. This initial meeting may also cover an assessment to assess your needs and the challenges you are facing that have led you to seek counselling. Some counsellors may use a questionnaire including scoring scales for emotions and feelings such as sadness, sleep quality, relationships (home and work), alcohol use, anxiety, and harmful feelings to self or others; however, not everyone finds these helpful, and different schools of therapy assess people in different ways. Your therapist may just want to chat to you, and to hear your view of where you are. We all work according to our training and experience, and no two counsellors will take exactly the same approach.
After that first contact, it is important to take the time you need to decide whether you feel safe and can trust the person you are considering engaging. This may be easier said than done if you are feeling unwell and finding it difficult to put your trust in anything, and therapists do not underestimate the leap of faith that is necessary to start a course of counselling.
Once sessions are underway, any good therapist will ask for, and provide, regular feedback about whether and how you feel progress is being made. The ideal is to achieve an ongoing partnership in collaboration, where you remain in control of the process throughout. The aim is to empower you to manage current and future challenges with a sustainable strategy which will last outside the counselling room.
How long will I need counselling?
Understandably, this is one of the most commonly asked questions. After between one and three sessions the challenges that fall to be addressed and how severe or mild they are should be much clearer to the therapist, along with how well the collaboration is working or is likely to progress. If the issue that has led the client to seek counselling is a single challenge, it may be possible to resolve this in just a few sessions, but a more nebulous difficulty is an unknown quantity until all relevant matters have been ‘unpacked’. The client will ultimately decide when therapy ends, with the support of the therapist.
Wishing you peace and the best of health.
Bob Brotchie 01638 563222