Counselling - What is it really?

Counselling - What is it really?

This is quite a difficult question to answer! Counselling is many things, not least a journey of self awareness and discovery but also a chance to learn about yourself and your process and why you are the person you are, who makes the choices you do.  Some of this can take time and be difficult but what is more interesting than learning about the person you are, especially as knowledge is empowering.  In turn can this self awareness of your own processes and reactions to difficult situations provide you with strength when life throws you a curveball?

Personally I have found therapy a lifeline, a small space of time just for me in the whirlwind of life, a "time out" if you like, no other pressing demands for my attention, just a chance to pause for a while and reflect inward.

As a counsellor I get asked many questions about therapy and clients are often surprised how empowering the process can actually be.  The power of another person confidentially listening to you, without agenda, and totally "in your corner" is often underestimated.  Some questions I have been asked demonstrate how counselling is viewed generally - "am I mad?" is a common one, or "Where's your white coat and do I lay on a couch?", the movie world has a lot to answer for!  

In the past people have only sought counselling as a last resort as a result of trauma, bereavement or addiction or feeling unable to cope with life anymore.  These days the tide is slowly changing for the better and those who have had counselling sessions and formed a powerful working relationship with not only their therapist but also with themselves can testify that they do feel better, that they feel that there is a safety net out there when life gets difficult for them.

I also think that counselling provides a shift in thinking, a power change within a person's beliefs and awareness that is not a failure in their ability to cope but a new knowledge of past experiences, where they have come from and why they think (often very negatively) about themselves.

There also seems to be a fear that counselling will be never ending or that they will become reliant on it and have to keep coming at considerable expense.  A decent therapist will be able to talk through these fears with you and assure you that in most cases a client and therapist know when the client is ready to finish - maybe after a couple of sessions or after ten or twenty.  

Moving forward with life changes and looking at issues can be tough, but all the work doesn't need to be done at once.  Sometimes knowing you have something to process and work on but will do it in your own time and at your own pace provides the healing and self-acceptance needed to move forward, similar to the session that triggered the deeper awareness of the issue in the first place.

Obviously, counselling is not for everybody in every situation.  Sometimes a person needs more than one area of help, this is where counselling working jointly with other specific forms of treatment other than talking therapy can provide immediate and individual tailored support.  

Anybody who feels distressed or suicidal should always go to their GP or outside agencies such as the Samaritans for immediate help. (See further help page of my website).

In a nutshell, I think counselling is talking to a professional listener, somebody who will not criticize you or make you feel bad about yourself but encourage you to increase your self esteem and walk alongside you in your world for a while.  Its powerful stuff.

Sarah Sherman

Crookham Counselling  March 2015