It takes a lot of courage and bravery to quietly take yourself to a counsellor and say ‘…I want more for myself...’ in whatever shape or form that comes in.
Turning to others for help is a natural human response; or it should be.
We can all benefit from having someone to help think something through or cope with a stressful situation or even when in a moment of crisis. Yet I often hear people say they do not want to burden their family or friends, or that they are too fearful that they’ll be judged, misunderstood, or be told what to do.
It remains surprising that there is such a stigma around counselling and often these negative messages and judgemental connotations prevent people from reaching out for support. I’ve always believed that you don’t have to be ‘mad, bad or sad’ to go to counselling, but unfortunately, most people wait until they are in crisis before taking the plunge.
What is Professional Counselling?
Counselling is confidentialCounselling offers a private and confidential space in which you can disclose your concerns.
Although it may seem daunting to talk to a stranger at first, sharing concerns with someone who is not associated with family or a friendship circle means they benefit from knowing
what is shared, stays in the room. This can be experienced as a huge relief.
Having said that, professional counsellors are not above the law; as there are limits to confidentiality, which is usually explained by the counsellor in the first session.
Counselling is contractualOnce you’ve had time to share your concerns, your counsellor will focus on establishing a working contract and help you elicit what your primary goals are.
In other words, you are working together to reach a desired outcome that will benefit you moving forward in your life.
What you’ll also find in the contract are practical aspects of your work together and this will include:
· Time and financial commitment
· Agreeing to not turn up under the influence of alcohol or drugs
· What happens if you are late or miss a session
· What happens around holiday breaks
· Expectations on the importance and appropriateness on how counselling ends – having at least one final session is considered important part of the counselling process.
Your counsellor should make available upon request their qualifications and confirm they receive professional supervision and that they are affiliated with an accrediting body such as
BACP, UKCP etc, and abide by their code of ethics.
Counselling is an explorationSome people seek counselling having a clear reason, like a Phobia or an Addiction problem. This is clear and known to the client but some people seek counselling because they find themselves in a crisis situation, like a relationship problem, bereavement or redundancy.
However, many enter counselling with unclear reasons, but just a feeling of general dissatisfaction like not having any meaning in life and unhappiness such as depression or general anxiety and it can take some exploration to uncover what the real issue is and to create an achievable goal based on these outcomes.
Counselling can be empoweringCounsellors are invested in empowering their clients through exploration and they never underestimate the bravery it takes to embrace change. Over time clients begin to stand in their own power and trust their own intrinsic wisdom to make healthier choices and decisions.
It’s not about telling the person what to do, it’s about the person deciding what is right for them. As Carl Jung says – ‘working towards individuation, you are the experts of your own life’ and counsellors use their expertise to encourage their client to work towards becoming their more authentic natural Self.
Counselling is about changeChallenge is both a necessary and an important component of the therapeutic process.
Challenging a client in a relational context, comes in many guises ranging from robust provocative confrontation at one end, to tender, compassionate, evocative challenge at the other. Challenges can be subtle and non-verbal – just receiving the therapist’s silent, caring gaze can be a massive challenge for some.
A key aspect of a counsellor’s role is to question what the client does, to raise awareness around repeated patterns of behaviour in relationships with themselves, others, and the world around them, and to explore how they may sabotage the good things in their lives and what stops them achieving what they want.
Counselling is caringCounsellors offer emotional and psychological support without the agenda or investment from relatives or friends. The experience of exploring your thoughts and feelings with another
can relieve your sense that you are not alone with your problems.
So, just imagine, …you arrange to see the same person, at the same time on the same day, regularly, every week for a period of time. This is the strangest relational experience you’ll ever have. But by its very nature, this constancy and consistency of meeting is what makes the process work. You will see your counsellor sitting in the same seat every week and they will have remembered the content of the session from the week before – and the week before that.
This is what we call an uncontaminated space.
Research has shown that the main criteria that creates change in therapy is the client and therapist relationship. Counsellors are committed in the art of skilful listening and are dedicated in understanding your life from your perspective. The experience of this can make you feel really cared for.
Counselling raises awarenessCounsellors help their clients hear themselves louder. Self-awareness is about opening the heart and mind to allow you to experience your inner Self. We work on formulating the right questions so that you find the right answers. Often these answers sit slightly out of awareness and that leads us to say, counsellors raise awareness from the unconscious.
It’s important to stress that counselling is not only about working with what we are aware of, but more about behaviours and patterns we are not aware of. We raise from the unconscious, feelings, thoughts and needs and by bring them into conscious awareness we can then work through them. Having someone actively listen and help explore and challenge ‘thought processes’ will aid insight that helps develop a strong sense of Self.
It’s important to emphasise that the process of counselling is guided by your pace and not that of the counsellors.
Counselling is definitiveAll counselling comes to an end at some stage. The BACP – British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, in their code of ethics emphasise the point that in its definition ‘a person… (is) temporarily in the role of client’.
Counsellors and clients need to collaboratively work towards a conclusion or a resolution to the work. Although the process of counselling can raise more questions than answers, most clients come to terms with the issues and concerns they brought in the beginning and see them in a more positive way. So, a client whose depression is lifted may begin to experience their life having more meaning and they may leave being more curious about their potential for their future.
So, in summary, counselling offers: Support – Insight – Change - Information - Psycho-education.
If you are interested in finding out how counselling could potentially help you please call Deborah on 07870 127650 or visit her website www.deborahkerrcounselling.co.uk