Can counselling help?
There is fortunately a lot of discussion around mental health today. From workplace support to podcasts and social media. All explore common mental health conditions like anxiety and depression while offering wisdom on how to feel better. People often suggest therapy, counselling, or talking therapies to help those with common mental health conditions. Different options, different types, and different support are all available. But the real question is does counselling work?
Yes counselling works, but …
In short, yes counselling absolutely works.
But there are many factors to consider when measuring how therapy works.
Firstly what do you want to get from counselling? what are your expectations?
If you don’t know what you want from the counselling sessions it’s very difficult to know if anything has worked. Often and understandably people may just want to ‘feel better’ and this is a tricky one to measure. Counselling can actually make you feel worse when you first begin. Sharing thoughts and feelings that you’ve never told others is a big step. Sharing painful, distressing or shameful feelings or experiences can leave you feeling vulnerable, angry or anxious. This is why pacing sessions are so important, and also giving you tools to help you help yourself in between sessions.
There will be greater self awareness. You will be able to identify patterns of behaviour, communication or relationships. You will be able to gain a different perspective and deeper understanding of yourself. Some of your ‘blind spots’ may be bought into view. You can safely express your feelings and feel heard and seen. But feeling ‘better’ well that depends…
Do you have time?
Not just time to attend sessions. I mean do you have time to let yourself go there. Can you cry your eyes out and then go home and look after yourself or will you need to hop on calls? (Hint: if you need to do something straight after you aren’t going to allow yourself to go too deep. It’s not safe ) Can you dedicate time to yourself to think about what was said, to process the feelings that come up and to self care? Is there enough session time to explore all that you need to in detail?
Will you give yourself the chance to face the deeper issues?
Will you do the work?
Therapy is work. It is all about you. You are supported and listened to unconditionally but there may be parts of yourself you don’t like that much or behaviour you’d rather not explore. Current feelings could relate to childhood issues which have always been ‘fine’ – but you know deep down they aren’t. Are you open to speaking honestly about how you feel. Do you want to understand more about yourself and take ownership of your behaviour and actions? It is not always comfortable, but you don’t do it alone.
Can you face yourself?
Remember your past does not have to determine your future.
Are you in crisis?
- Extremely anxious and having panic attacks or flashbacks
- Feeling suicidal or self harming
- Having an episode of hypomania or mania (feeling very high) or psychosis (hearing voices or feeling very paranoid)
Counselling cannot be effective when you are emotionally volatile. There is too much going on and it could be dangerous to enter therapy at this stage. This is why we have an assessment to assess not only relationship and technical fit. But also am I competent in the areas you need support with. Can I support you in the right way to make you feel safe and cause no harm. Sometimes, as more is known it may be right to refer you to other specialists or complex support teams to ensure you receive the best care.
Should you feel you cannot keep your self safe from harm please dial 999 or attend A&E for help.
Urgent help details are also available here
Counselling can be accessed through work, charities, NHS or like me a private counsellor. If you use an employee assistance programme, does your service offer enough counselling sessions? Additionally can you request more sessions if you need them (and explore other areas of your life if wanted?) If paying for yourself, can you cover the costs?
I am often asked how many sessions do I think it will take, and to be honest – there is never really an answer. It is always individual. For example, I regularly work with Clients on a 6,12 or 18 week basis … but I have also seen Clients for a 12 – 18month period.
So, the way I see it is my work will be part of the healing journey – however long that may be.
Connection with the counsellor
The therapeutic relationship is the foundation of counselling. How well you bond with the Counsellor will affect trust, confidence, reassurance, openness and honesty. When the relationship feels safe and secure it allows for challenge, while knowing the relationship will remain the same. And challenge goes both ways, it’s OK to bring the therapeutic relationship into the room or say if something is not quite right. If you aren’t feeling that connection, it’s OK to talk about it in the counselling room. In the counselling relationship, allowing feelings thoughts, or ideas to be heard, understood and valued creates a unique intimate connection. You do not have to filter or censor what you say and can be your whole true self.
As a result, feeling accepted by your counsellor leads the way for you to accept yourself for who you are.
So in summary, counselling does work – however there are some things to take into consideration ….
Interested in exploring how counselling would work for you?
Please email email@example.com or click here
About the author: Chris Boobier is the owner of CRB Counselling specialising in anxiety, trauma, Bereavement & loss. Supporting adults and adolescents, she is passionate about helping people be their authentic self through counselling.