Can counselling really help me? …and other questions about Counselling
I'm not sure whether counselling will really help me?
The good news about counselling is it is the most effective treatment for Anxiety and Depression; more effective than drugs. However, it's success relies on you too and your commitment and participation to succeed. Your success will be a result of 3 factors:
1. Our skills and strategies as experienced psychologists in this area
2. That we care about your progress and create a safe and secure relationship with you
3. Your involvement and participation
Many of us will find ourselves at some point in our lives, in a crisis, or stuck, or very down for some time, or with worries that are getting the better of us, and we are not sure of what to do, as our usual coping strategies are just not working.
We can ask family or friends for help, however, they may be biased and encourage us to make a decision that is more about them and their values than about honouring us and how we need to manage the situation. Or more likely, they are not trained in the relevant area, so can’t give us wise advice.
In the counselling process with your psychologist, the first thing you will notice is that you are truly listened to, and many people have commented that this is the first time that this has happened to them in their whole life.
Once we have a good understanding of you and where you are coming from, then we offer you relevant insight, information, tools and strategies to help guide and support you to make the best possible decision for yourself , as well as take action. These are based on our ongoing training and extensive experience in this field.
This process helps you develop self-awareness and empowers you to move forward with more knowledge and confidence.
We are also there to support and cheer you on as you make changes in perception and actions in your life. Often many of these new thoughts and actions would be impossible to do on your own, and on many occasions when you go through your first hiccup along this process of change and improvement, (which can often happen when you are making big changes), we are there to support you and keep you on track, and understand and help when things trip you up.
This is quite a multifaceted process and we have found that each element is an essential part in helping you feel fully met and supported, as well as progress quickly towards a happier more fulfilling life.
We have much client feedback that supports that this multifaceted process is of optimal help for our clients in getting back to their happier selves as quickly as possible.
Shouldn't I just try and get over it myself, or try other things to fix it myself?
It’s pretty natural for us all to want to help ourselves first with any problem we might have.
And I agree that it can be worth trying exercising more, eating better, cutting down your alcohol and getting enough sleep to see if you can be improved by these things.
Often though, it can be difficult to motivate ourselves to stick to many of these new habits for any length of time, on your own, particularly if you’re feeling down.
Then you will need to get over the hump of acknowledging that you are sufficiently suffering and that what you can do on your own, often just isn’t sufficient.
And while you are feeling mentally confused and/or distressed, it just doesn’t work to just tell yourself to “Get over it” because at this stage, you don’t know the full cause of your distress, and you don’t have the knowledge and strategies for helping these states. Even if you did, it is often just not possible to do this all on your own.
Won’t it just go away on its own if I ignore it?
So tempting, isn’t it, to stick our head in the sand and hope it will go away. But unfortunately, in about 95 % of cases, ignoring our difficulties is often not a good solution, and in fact, usually increases our difficulties. Then it is more work to do, and a longer period to overcome them.
It's far wiser to be proactive and act as soon as you feel things are becoming bad, avoiding any unnecessary suffering for you.
It can be difficult to know whether you're just experiencing temporary stress, worry or feeling down, or whether it has developed into something more serious; Anxiety, Depression or severe Stress. If you're struggling to determine whether counselling will be effective, we've included these quizzes to give you a general guide as to how serious your problem may be:
I just drink. That helps I think?
Alcohol is the most common self-medication we have. Yes, it is true that often while you are drinking, it feels you’re in a happier place, but it doesn’t really last long.
You may not know this but alcohol is a depressant. This means that it can disrupt the balance between our thoughts, feelings and actions, so in the long term, it creates more problems for your mental health.
Therefore, masking your difficulties with alcohol is not helpful. Over time your drinking may become dysfunctional and lead to addiction. A Psychologist will help you develop skills and strategies to be able to deal with your difficulties in a more helpful way.
I feel hopeless, what’s the point? My situation can’t be changed.
When you feel depressed you naturally feel helpless and hopeless. You may be feeling hopeless due to your circumstances, finances, the people around you or more. Even though you may not see a way out of your circumstances, seeing a Psychologist can help as they can support you and provide you with skills to be able to manage your situation better.
And often there are ways out of your situation that you have not been able to find yet, as you are looking through the very narrow lens of your own limited thoughts, particularly when you are down. A fresh new perspective can be just what you need.
So seeking treatment when you are depressed is crucial as if it is left untreated it may get worse and will hold you back from living the life that you want. People with depression suffer needlessly if they don’t seek help.
It’s scary talking to a counsellor. How do I know they will care and understand me? Won’t I be judged?
It does take courage to acknowledge that you need help and to seek therapy. You can feel overwhelmed at the possibility of sharing your deepest and darkest secret and pain to someone you don’t know. You need to feel safe with a therapist and not be fearful of being judged by them.
You may also be afraid of opening up the pain of the past that may be too much to handle. These are all common and valid concerns for individuals, and we as Psychologists understand this.
That’s why we place so much importance on what we call our “therapeutic relationship” with you. It is extremely important to us that you feel a mutual trust where you know that you are safe. Most Psychologists come from a place of genuine empathy and high regard for the people that they help. They understand that each individual person comes with their own journey and that they show great strength by seeking therapy and being proactive in their lives. Taking small risks and building trust with your Psychologist will deepen your relationship and help the therapy progress.
And one of the first things that we learn in our Psychology training is to be free of judgement of our clients. This is a huge deal for almost all of us, as most people are used to being judged almost all of their lives, and this is one of the few places you can go, where you will not be judged. Many of our clients have commented in their feedback that this is a particularly beautiful and affirming part of their experience for them.
Will the counsellor do nothing more than listen? How will they actually help?
Most people believe that Psychologists are there to listen to your difficulties. This is true, however, we do far more than this. We provide you with a safe place where there is no judgement so that you are able to share and resolve your difficulties. We work with you in helping you work through the difficulties that are holding you back from living the life that you want. We provide proven strategies, tools and treatments to suit your individual needs, as well as encouraging your personal growth.
We provide you with skills and strategies and help you both identify and achieve the goals you have set for your life.
I’ve had a bad experience with a counsellor before. Why would this be any better?
It takes courage to engage in therapy. Trusting a stranger with your innermost thoughts and feelings makes you very vulnerable. This is why it can be disappointing and even distressing when you have a bad experience. This doesn’t often happen, but occasionally there is a mismatch between a client and their counsellor. It’s natural that if you have had a negative experience then you may be turned off the entire process of therapy.
Whatever the reason for your bad experience it is important that you not give up on the therapy process. Engaging with another Psychologist where you are able to openly discuss and explore your bad experience, can be a very helpful process. Discussing your feelings about the bad experience will prepare the new Psychologist and help them understand that you will need some time to open up and trust again.
It's important to us that you relate well and feel comfortable with your psychologist, that's why we offer our Great Match Guarantee. Click here to find out more about it.
Counselling or medication? Which helps the most?
Psychological counselling is often the first form of treatment recommended for mental health issues. Research has proven time and time again that it is effective for overcoming depression, anxiety and stress.
If you are suffering from severe depression or anxiety, medication may also be recommended by your Doctor. It's a common misconception that Psychologists will put you on medication. This isn't true. Only Doctors or Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication to you.
Research has also shown that for some types of depression and anxiety, a combination of both counselling and medication may be more effective than medication or counselling alone. Your Psychologist will be able to guide you on the best treatment option for you while taking into consideration your preferences.
What will the therapy session look life? What will happen?
In the first session, we will ask you questions about you and your life to gain an understanding about you, your personal history and current symptoms and what may have caused you to feel the way you do. You may also do some brief tests. This information helps us make an initial assessment of your situation.
You should leave your first session with some initial tools to help make a start on improving your life in a practical way.
In the subsequent sessions, we will follow a treatment plan for you, checking in with you as to what you have been feeling and doing since your last session, supporting you in your process and offering more tools and strategies as you progress.
Your sessions are normally spaced about a week apart to start with, and as you make progress, these can be moved to fortnightly and even longer over time as you start to feel better.