“I go to counselling to deal with the people in my life that refuse to go to counselling.”
In our journey through life things can’t always be sunshine and butterflies. There will be challenges, uncertainty and emotional struggles. For some, these will be few and far between. But for others, life will feel like it’s constantly bombarding us with nothing but stress, anxiety and heartache. During these difficult times seeking professional help through counselling can help provide us with valuable support and guidance that can’t be found in our friends and family.
While I’ve discussed therapy before on the blog, I wanted to address counselling in particular. Counselling can be beneficial even if you don’t suffer from depression, anxiety, an eating disorder or any other mental health condition. It can help you to navigate and find your place in life! If you’re feeling stuck, it can help you to move forward, and can be essential in helping you to overcome trials that everyone faces such as grief and extreme life changes.
What is counselling?
First and foremost, counselling is a partnership. It’s two people working to find solutions, and it can’t work unless both parties work well together. The counselor provides a safe and non-judgemental space for the client to express to talk about their thoughts, fears and emotions. While the client talks, the counselor practices active listening, and engages appropriately in order to guide the client to the answers they need. The end goals? That fully depends on the reason for the client’s visit to counselling in the first place.
Why do people go to counselling?
There are various reasons why someone might seek mental health counselling. No matter the reason, it’s important to remember that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of nor is it a sign of personal weakness. In fact counselling and therapy is considered a proactive step towards bettering our mental health and improving our overall well being.
We all need to talk to someone at some point in our lives, and a good counsellor will allow you to do so in a safe and confidential environment.
Here are just a few reasons to seek counselling.
To manage mental health issues.
Counselling is important for those suffering from various mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD, substances abuse etc. While medication can help to alleviate symptoms, it isn’t always enough. More severe conditions require a tailored approach to treatment. By attending specific types of clinical mental health counselling, you can properly treat your condition and lead a happier life. It can help you to work through their issues, thought and emotions, and discuss ways to self-manage using various coping skills.
While counselling and therapy is often associated with mental health conditions, however, you don’t need to have a mental health condition to attend.
To manage and work through emotional difficulties.
We all go through periods in life that knock us down and cause us to experience extreme emotions such as anger, grief and even guilt. By attending counselling we can better understand and identify our emotions, what causes them and how to manage them in a healthy way.
Major life changes.
Major life changes like starting college, getting married, having a baby, changing careers, or experiencing a loss can be challenging to navigate. Counseling can offer guidance and support during these transitions, helping individuals cope with stress, adjust to new circumstances, and make important decisions.
Self-exploration and personal growth.
Counselling, as mentioned, isn’t just for those experiencing difficulties in life. It’s for anyone and can help you to elevate your personal growth and self-exploration. A counsellor can help you gain a better understanding of yourself, pin-point your strengths and weakness, work towards personal goals, and build resilience.
How counselling can improve your mental health and well-being.
I think by now it’s pretty clear how counselling and talk therapy can be beneficial to your overall well-being. Yet, so many are still reluctant to go for various reasons. Some might still buy into the stigma long since formed around counselling being only for those in emotional distress and serious psychosis. Others might find it too invasive and feel like taking time to talk about themselves is both selfish and unnecessary for healing. One of the key concerns I’ve come across, however, is just how much private counselling costs. Counselling and therapy can be expensive, and with the NHS waiting lists currently exceeding six months, it’s the only way the majority of us will ever be able to access it.
*It should be noted that while private counselling can cost a pretty penny, it’s a professional service that requires years of training. Not to mention the responsibility behind it. Counsellors are people who have families, mortgages and bills to pay just like everyone else. The cost reflects this and it’s not up to them to simply lower their prices for every client that comes their way. They need to make a living too, so please be mindful if commenting on this below.
With all of this in mind, here are a few ways counselling can be beneficial to your life, mental health and well-being.
Counselling provides a safe and non-judgemental space for people to discuss their thoughts, feelings, emotions and concerns. The counselor will offer empathetic support without bias or prejudice in order to help you feel both heard.
Having our emotional needs validated fosters a sense of relief, helps to reduce feelings of isolation and enables us to embrace emotional healing.
By engaging in counselling we’re allowing ourselves to do some self-reflection and improve our self-awareness. We can learn so much about ourselves simply by talking about our lives, trauma, thoughts and emotions. By doing so we’re better able to understand what positive changes are needed and what coping mechanisms work best for us.
For example, many people swear by mindfulness as a key to coping with anxiety. However, for many including myself, our head can be a dangerous place and so it’s better to practice distraction techniques such as exercise or creative activities. But until you’re made aware of this, you might continue to try mindfulness to your detriment instead of trying something else.
Enhanced Coping Skills.
Counselling teaches us about the different tools available to help us cope with instances of anxiety, stress, depression or other mental and emotional difficulties. The counsellor can give you insight into practical methods that work to meet your specific needs. These could include things such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices, journalling, creative outlets and so much more.
One thing I learned during my time in eating disorder therapy is how to ground myself. I suffer from anxiety and become overwhelmed easily due to other cognitive issues. Grounding myself using the 5-4-3-2-1 method and focusing on my breath has proven to be of the best ways for me to slow down and realign myself. And while I knew about grounding before entering therapy, I never took the time to practice it. In fact I thought it was a waste of my time. But here I am, eating my words!
Increased Problem-Solving Abilities.
Counselling increases your ability to problem-solve by exploring alternative perspectives, solutions and situations. It opens your mind beyond the one track thinking, something which we all can become stuck within when facing difficulties in life. The counsellor can help guide you through challenging situations, and assist you in identifying any underlying issues that may be holding you back. Once you find and foster the ability to approach your problems from a different angle, you expand your personal growth and build upon your resilience.
Counselling can be very beneficial for couples and families who may be experiencing difficulties in their relationship. My husband and I have attend therapy as a couple, and it helped to be more open and communicate better. We were both able to air grievances in a safe space and discover ways to better ourselves as a pair.
In couples counselling the counselor can facilitate communication, help you to improve your understanding, and provide tools for resolving conflicts. Ultimately, counselling can help couples strengthen their relationship.
Stress and Anxiety Reduction.
Stress can take a toll on our mental health, no doubt about it. It can take over every aspect of your work, personal and social life, leaving your perpetually drained. Counselling can help you to identify the source of you stress and teach you how to either eliminate them or manage them so that you can restore balance to your life.
How do you feel about counselling, or have you tried it before?
This post will be updated with resources such as average estimate for private counselling prices in the UK, and free or low-income charitable alternatives. If you have any information you’d like to share, please get in touch in the comments or email me.