What is counselling?
Have you wondered what the process of counselling might be like? Do you recall a time in your life when you experienced difficulties and wanted to see a counsellor yet didn’t because you were nervous about what’s involved? I hear this comment a lot from clients, and realised there is a need to educate and demystify the process of counselling. Seeing a counsellor should not be wrapped in a shroud of mystery. In a nutshell counselling provides the opportunity for individual to explore their stressors and struggles in a non-judgemental and safe environment. The aim is to move from crisis and distress, to clarity and greater certainty. So how is this done exactly?
Some background might help to connect in the dots. Counselling falls under the umbrella term ‘talking therapies’ and allows people to discuss their problems and any difficult feelings they encounter in a safe, confidential environment. The term can mean different things to different people, but in general it is a process people seek when they want to change something in their lives or simply explore their thoughts and feelings in more depth.
A counsellor is not there to sit you down and tell you what to do – instead they will encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you in order to uncover any root causes and identify your specific ways of thinking. The counsellor may then look to create a plan of action to either help you reconcile your issues or help you to find ways of coping.
Counselling does not come in a cookie-cutter format and each session is generally tailored to the individual. There is flexibility within this type of therapy that allows for a variety of counselling formats, including face-to-face, group counselling, couples counselling, telephone or on-line counselling.
What can counselling help with?
Counselling can be useful for anyone who wants to explore the way they’re thinking or feeling further, as well as anyone experiencing a problem or issue they are keen to resolve. People may choose to speak to a counsellor because they feel they cannot speak to their friends, families or partners about personal issues, or they may simply wish to speak to a professional with an objective viewpoint. Common subjects that can be addressed within counselling include the following:
Anxiety refers to feelings of worry, apprehension, nervousness that can have very strong physical symptoms. These include a rapid heartbeat, trembling/shaking, feeling faint, an upset stomach/nausea, sweating, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. Counsellors use a range of evidence and mindful-based techniques that help manage the anxiety.
Wherever there is a physical addiction to a substance or activity – there is likely to be a psychological addiction too. Counselling aims to relieve the psychological addiction by exploring the root cause while helping to develop new ways of thinking.
Losing a loved one is a difficult event in anyone’s life. The loss can bring up a wide range of emotions including guilt and anger. Some people benefit from speaking openly to a counsellor about their feelings to help ease the process and resolve any remaining issues they may have.
Being the victim of any form of abuse, whether it’s verbal or physical can lead to issues that may affect you all of your life. Counselling can offer clients the chance to seek appropriate help as well as addressing the psychological repercussions in a safe environment.
Depression affects how you feel about yourself and the world. Things that once seemed easy begin to feel difficult, and it can be difficult to find joy in things that were once meaningful. A counsellor can help identify what in your life has led to depression, work out what its triggers are, and learn techniques towards managing it.
Suffering from a long-term illness such as cancer or dementia can turn anyone’s world upside down. Counselling can help sufferers come to terms with their illness while offering emotional support and coping mechanisms.
Mental health issues
Suffering from a mental health issue can feel incredibly isolating. Counselling looks to discuss the feelings that arise in conjunction with these kinds of mental health issues as well as overcome any personal challenges or frustrations.
Covering all types of relationships, counselling can be used to discuss issues within families, friendships and couples. Problems include coping with separation to improving communication, recovering from an affair, dealing with family pressures, right through working with clients in abusive relationships.
Low Self –Esteem
People with low self-esteem regard themselves critically and may feel an ongoing sense of failure or lack of accomplishment. Feelings of low self-esteem are perpetuated by ongoing comparison to others and constant negative self-talk. Counselling helps to identify and recognize these negative patterns and provides tools to shift to more adaptive mindsets.
Stress is a psychological and physical reaction to the many demands life places on us. Between work, family commitments, responsibilities in the home, and paying the bills, it can feel as though stress is endless. Working with a counsellor can help give you the tools to care for yourself, find a healthy balance between work and play, and live a more meaningful, healthy life.
Whether you’ve been involved in an accident or you have been the victim of abuse, the psychological impact of trauma can last years after the event itself. In a counselling session trauma clients are encouraged to explore their feelings regarding the incident, at their own pace, and look at how these experiences could be resolved or processed more fully.
How counselling can help?
The way counselling can help will depend on the person receiving the treatment. For many, the fact that counselling offers a safe and confidential environment to speak in is all it takes. Counselling offers you the space and freedom to explore your own thoughts with an unbiased party.
While counsellors may not give you concrete advice or a checklist of things to do to feel better, what they will do is help you uncover your own insight and understanding of your problems providing you with the tools which will help you to resolve them on your own.
In the majority of cases, a single session will not be enough to help overcome any issues you’re facing. Counselling is a journey, and it takes time and consistency to work effectively. Because of this, many people opt for regular counselling sessions to make the most of the process.
Counselling can help you understand yourself better and the way you think, which will ultimately help you develop a clearer understanding of your problems. The more armed with information you are, the easier it gradually becomes to navigate your way through any difficulties you are facing so that eventually you can come out the other side feeling more positive. Counselling can also help you understand other people’s point of view better, which can shed light onto the way you interpret words or actions.
Counselling often requires you to discuss upsetting emotions and painful memories. Bringing up these thoughts can feel difficult to start with but help to provide insights and understanding as the process unfolds.
To get the most from your counselling sessions you should aim to make them consistent. Some sessions will feel more helpful than others, but it is important to realise that everything your counsellor is doing is designed to help you in the long run, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the beginning.
It is also worth remembering that counselling is not a quick fix and that your counsellor will not be able to tell you what to do. The counselling process requires a strong relationship between you and your counsellor and a degree of commitment on your part – together these two elements create a successful method to help you resolve your issues.
If you find that you are struggling with a personal issues in your life seeing a counsellor at the Melbourne Counselling Centre can be very helpful. Click here to book a session.