Counselling isn’t something that we massively buy in to in the UK. The Americans are all over it with their therapists, but we are still catching up. Talking therapy is on the rise and more and more people are adding it to their mental health treatment plan.
I’ve had mixed results with counselling. I can absolutely see the benefit, but you must find someone that fits with you. Someone you like, someone you feel comfortable talking to. Someone that listens and helps work through your issues.
The first experience that I had with counselling was pretty bad. The women kind of tilted her head to one side and said ok in a patronising tone. She also didn’t make any notes… this should be a major red flag for anyone.
A counsellor should talk about your history to understand where you’ve come from. They should talk about where you are right now and update that every single session. And they should explain and work towards where you want to be, how they can help and how you can achieve these goals. They should give you the tools to take away and work on yourself and they should be there to hold you accountable for your progress.
It’s ok to just talk, open up and get stuff off of your chest. But if your counsellor isn’t making any notes how on earth are they going to help you progress week on week? The woman I saw basically started afresh every single session, what a waste of time, time that I was paying for!
The second counsellor I saw was a hybrid of acupuncturist/life coach. She was awesome. I actually said to her, should I be telling you all of this and he answer was quite simply ‘it’s all part of getting you better’. She was more of a coach, a mother figure. She really just confirmed what was in my head and gave me advice on how to deal with it.
The third counsellor I saw was a free as part of NHS talking therapy. She started my first session by telling me that she wasn’t licensed to treat bipolar… good start! She was a bit of an old battle-axe, not very kind. But she did go through a great process. She made me fill in mood/illness/life questionnaires at the start of my first session. Then we talked through how I was right now and how the last week had been. She made notes and she gave me tools to deal with some of the things that were going on. In the next session, we’d revisit some of this and then talk through the last week and so on so forth. Like I said a great process.
At the end of my six sessions I filled in the questionnaires again and she talked through where I had come from and where I was now. I had made some progress… which is the most important thing… if you’re not making any progress in your counselling, maybe it’s time to change strategy?
So find a great counsellor. If you can afford a private one great, if not talk to your GP and get a referral. Do your research, every local NHS has different provisions in place. Talk to friends or family and get a recommendation. And don’t worry if you go through a few counsellors before you meet one that fits with you. You should always have a first session to get to know each other before you commit to a full program.
Good luck and know that when you find the right person counselling is an awesome tool to get yourself better! X