Psychotherapy usually deals with deep-seated personal issues that may require a comparatively long-term commitment to uncover their source and meaning. Part of therapy is learning to trust in the unfoldment of your own process. Psychotherapy can bring about major and profound changes in your life and encourage you to develop your potential. It can help you appreciate the joys of life as well as how to deal with the difficulties.
In psychotherapy, clients usually goes deeper than in counselling, looking closely at the past, at their relationships with parents and other significant people in their lives, all the time becoming more aware of the repeating patterns that limit their effective experience of life, helping them understand and change these patterns „
As someone who has experienced many years of regular psychotherapy with different therapists, the best recommendation I can give is to find a therapist you trust and who you work well with.
To begin with, make sure your psychotherapist is registered with either the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) or The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP- they may also be registered with both). Both websites for these professional regulatory bodies have a full searchable listing of therapists in your area (presuming you are in the UK), and is an excellent place to start. The searches usually also include details of the therapist's experience and any specialisms.
Most reputable therapists will offer you at least one session before talking about working together on a regular basis, and will understand if you don't want to continue after this time. You may not know if their approach will work for you, but as the process of psychotherapy can bring up raw and/or supressed traumas. In order to understand and work through them, the most essential thing is to feel a rapport with the person you're talking to.
Psychotherapy generally goes more in-depth than counselling. Where as a counsellor will generally listen compassionately and reflect back, my experience of psychotherapy is that as well as these techniques, the therapist may question more and occasionally even gently challenge the thinking of the client, if appropriate, in order for insights and understanding to emerge.
Looking back, I see how psychotherapy helped me understand myself more. I find that just by knowing how my current patterns of behaviour have their roots in past experiences, I am able to feel more at ease today.
I have thought pretty long and hard about writing a review on therapy/counselling/psychotherapy, not least because I recognise that if I do write a review and let members here know what I do for a living I might get a lot of people contacting me via messages, with questions that I can't or would not be prepared to answer. Also, I can only 'touch' on the subject here.
However, I also recognise that a lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about the therapeutic world, as portrayed by TV therapists, and the constant reporting on celebrities 'in therapy'. So I guess I see this as an opportunity to put a few ideas out there for folks to have a considered view about therapy, and what it is all about, well, not 'all', but a fair overview.
At the moment, pretty much anyone in the UK can call themselves a therapist, or counsellor, or psychotherapist, however, thankfully that is very soon going to change. Only people registered with the HPC (Health Professions Council) will be able to use said titles after 2009 (though this date may well 'slip'), and to use these legally protected titles after this point will become a criminal offence.
What is a therapist/counsellor/psychotherapist?
Basically someone that has had sufficient training in a model of therapy (or more than one model) to be able to practice as such. The difference between the titles is very difficult to be exact about however, for the sake of ease here, generally psychotherapists would be qualified at Masters level or above, though not always, likewise, counsellors may well be trained at this level, 'therapist' is a more generic term, though as I have said this is all pretty interchangeable and much is dependent on either how the therapist chooses to define/describe themselves, or how their place of work chooses to describe them, so for instance, I would prefer just to be called 'therapist', yet the NHS Psychology Department where I do some part time work insists that I am called a 'psychotherapist'.
People qualified will have studied one or more 'types' of therapy, and there are hundreds.
Types of Therapy:
As I have said there is hundreds of types of therapy. Psychotherapy really started with people like Freud and Jung, though clearly ever since people could talk, talking has proved helpful sometimes. Freud and others similar to Freud were interested in the unconscious thought patterns, things that happened in early childhood that 'shape' the way people are and so on. That by the way is a very simplistic view here, people write 20,000 word dissertations on this stuff so I'm not going to do much more than give you 'headlines'. Below are some other 'headlines', many of the types of therapy below also have 'sub' sections, or offshoots.
Some of the other main types of therapy include:
Person centred, as developed by Carl Rogers, which is very much about unconditional positive regard (for the client) leading to the right conditions which will allow the person to reach their full, real potential in and out of the therapy room.
Behavioural approaches, such as CBT where the therapist will explore, with the client, some of the 'mismatch' between what the client wants, or thinks they want to do, and the actions that they are undertaking.
Cognitive Analytic Therapy.
Solution Focused Brief Therapy:
This is my 'core' model, the one that I have trained in and practiced for the last 16 years. It was developed in the early 80's in Milwaukee, USA by a bunch of folk from the Family Therapy Centre, specifically Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. The premise of this type of therapy is that we recognise that everyone has a preferred future, there are always exceptions to any problem, and doing more of what works means one is ding less of what does not work. We start from the premise that everyone is competent in certain ways and we seek to build on that competence and strengths base where possible. We also believe that we are not experts on people themselves, that they have more knowledge about themselves than we will ever have. We do not diagnose or analyse and do not find 'theories' of dysfunction to be helpful. SFBT sits within a group of therapies that are aligned to Post Modern or Post Structuralist, social constructionist views. Feel free to read more, as I have said, just a headline here. Try, as a first stop, the United Kingdom association for Solution Focused Practice (UKASFP). http://www.ukasfp.co.uk/
So which type is best for someone?
There is the question that most people do not think to ask, instead just trusting that any therapy will help. The truth is, however loyal you are to your model, any talking therapy is better than no talking therapy, and there is a huge amount of evidence to back this up. The model of therapy that one utilises can only be worth about 15% of the outcome from therapy, though clearly different therapy and therapists suit different people. So someone looking to delve into their childhood trauma would not be suited by Solution Focused therapy for instance.
What is more important, according to the research is: Therapist/client relationship or how you and the therapist get on. Also important is placebo or hope factors, so if you think therapy will work, then there is a good chance it will. External factors also play a part, if you are unemployed and depressed because of it, and you get a job your mood might lift, that has got nothing to do with therapy!
If you are going to get therapy you should check a number of things first:
1. What do you want to get out of it
2. What sort of therapy might help you (research this)
3. Is the therapist qualified
4. Is the therapist insured
5. How much will it cost
6. Is confidentiality ensured
7. Is the therapist a member of a professional body
Good, experienced therapists will be a member of a professional organisation, bound by a code of ethics, with the facility to complain if you are not happy with the service you get. They may or may not display certificates, or have letters after their name, if they do, feel free to check them out, ask the therapist what the letters, qualifications are, go to the internet and have a look, a genuine therapist won't mind at all.
Some of the organisations that are most reputable are listed below:
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
United Kingdom Association for Solution Focused Practice (UKASFP)
British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies.
British Psychological Society
So how does one become a therapist?
Training, practice, reflection.
The minimum needed to become a full member of say the BACP (and please check their website) is two years training, 150 hours supervised placement, regular clinical supervision. To become accredited one would need: 450 hours of training, generally at post graduate level, 450 post qualifying hours of practice, 1.5 hours of supervision per month for a minimum of 3 years, be able to describe your theoretical model, be able to show reflection on your practice, be able to show continuing professional development and be able to show your own level of personal awareness in relation to your role as a therapist.
To use 'counselling skills' one needs much less training, and there are lots of people at work that use these skills daily, so do not be put off by the amount of stuff needed to practice as a 'therapist'.
Look up local courses, think about the type of therapy that appeals to you in terms of learning, think about how long you are prepared to train and how much you are prepared to pay, for instance:
I started my therapy training in 1992 with a 20 week, one evening a week course, then over the next few years did many 2, 3 and 4 day courses, in 2000 I started an MA in Solution focused therapy which was two years p/t taught with a further 3 years to undertake independent research and write a dissertation, as well as doing placements in organisations. You will need to read many, many books and depending on the type of therapy you train in, may need to be conversant with many theories.
If you are seeking therapy, remember, therapists cannot 'cure' you, we only seek to help you help yourself, through a number of methods which might be understanding what makes you you, what influences your thoughts or actions, or simply getting you to recognise what is working for you, at least some of the time, and do more of it.
Remember to get someone who is qualified, insured, and a member of a professional body.
If you are seeking to become a therapist, it is a great way to earn a living, very rewarding, and the training is long and arduous, and can be quite expensive.
If you want to know more about me, the type of therapy I practice, or any other links related feel free to 'Google' me, I have a website but cannot give that out here as I use it for commercial purposes.
Thanks for reading,
Paul Hanton MBACP
BA (Hons), MA (SFBT)
Last weekend I was sitting in a van on a hillside. Behind me, on the metal floor, lay a sheep with a hurt leg, about to be driven to the vets. The sheep was unable to escape from the hard, alien surroundings of the van, gazing anxiously at some vague point between myself and the sheepdog beside it. Its heart was thumping fast, and I expected it to panic at any moment. The dog meanwhile shuffled over to allow it more room, its eyes gazing with quiet bewilderment at the huge face beside it. Every now and again the dog turned to me as though looking for reassurance that it was doing the right thing. I told it, with a smile, that everything was okay. Turning to the sheep, I saw that its strange otherworldly eyes were looking back at me, and that it had begun to relax, having realised that we meant it no harm. That unspoken conversation between species, and the trust engendered by it, moved me almost to tears. It also reminded me how much can be communicated without words. Its the same between people - I've always been sure that the best test of how well you get on with someone is how quiet you can be with them. The kind of unspoken understanding where silences don't have to be filled with small talk to ease the atmosphere, because the atmosphere is just fine as it is. It is an intuitive feeling, the kind that you get almost straight away with someone, or not at all. Of course, some stuff can't be communicated in silence. When a smile, or a wink, or a frown don't do the thought or feeling justice, thats when we need words. But sometimes words can be hopelessly inadequate. Everyone knows what its like to tell someone how they feel, only to have the frustration of knowing that it doesn't nearly describe the depth of that feeling, or the individuality of it. Words can reduce profound personal experience into something clichéd, throwaway - almost meaningless. Its one of the reasons why I am wary of counse
lling. I just know that no matter what I say, the person on the other side of the desk simply isn't going understand what I really feel. Compounding the problem is the fact that the counsellor's job is to identify situations, patterns, illnesses etc, and will grab hold of a phrase that suggests a pigeon hole.... and in the same way, I will end up using words that suggest a pigeon hole, because the vocabularies of that analysis are so easily available. "I feel empty","I can't pull myself together".... And in so doing, you can find yourself with a label, like 'clinically depressed'. Not that these labels aren't entirely unhelpful. They can be. But they can also be very frustrating. You can feel like you're banging your head against a brick wall, trying to convince someone to treat you as an individual, not just a case. And the words that you feel obliged to spout forth can feel like they're doing you no favours. I left a brief period of counselling (cognitive therapy to be precise) ten years ago frustrated for all these reasons, which is why I was relieved that the counsellor my doctor referred me to (free on the NHS) last week wasn't a therapist as such, just a trained listener. Knowing she'd have heard hours of nonsense from people like me before, I knew I could trust her with my feelings, that they wouldn't be judged or dismissed or otherwise treated with contempt, but nor would they be treated with over-delicacy - something which friends (with the best of intentions) tend to do. And while friends (if you have them, or know you have them) treat your feelings with this delicacy, you in contrast are likely to trample all over theirs. It is a simple fact of life that the unhappier you are, the more self centred you become, and the blinder you are to others feelings. And when you've reached your last straw, this can put an enormous amount of pressure on the
person you confide in, who can struggle silently to cope with the stress of listening to you at your worst. Talking to a counsellor who is emotionally detached, who isn't involved in any way in that mess in your head, can overcome that. I have no need to worry about overburdening my counsellor, or the effect my gloom might have on her, as it is her job to listen. Of course, most people hate their jobs, or at least tire of them, and I did find her fidgeting and looking at the clock, sighing impatiently once or twice. But because of the situation's impersonality, I knew not to take it personally. It was just someone wanting to go home after a long day. I don't expect a counsellor to come up with any answers. I would be rather mistrustful of a solution offered me by someone who had known me for just a few hours. But it does help to talk to someone. Unspoken, unarticulated feelings, raw and in the heart... they can they hurt like hell. There comes a point when they reach a critical mass of sorts, when tears start to flow - very painfully, and at the most unexpected of times. When they weigh you down to a point where you struggle to see a point in fighting them anymore. Words may seem woefully inadequate at times like that, but expressing those feelings can bring considerable relief, precisely because of the inadequacy of words to describe the depth of feeling. The triteness of those words can take away those feelings power for a moment, reducing them to silly clichés for a day, allowing you to see that day through. It may be just a brief respite, a respite thats soon gone when you realise they were the wrong words, but freed for a moment, you may look at the world anew. See the sunlight on the puddles. Marvel for a moment at the butterfly on the wall. Or listen to someone else's concerns without your mind wandering back to your own. In short, its good to offload. But more important perhaps is counsel
ling's way of cutting through the crap. I walked into that room with my head a sluggish mush of thoughts and feelings, unable to know where to start. But just a few direct, probing questions and I knew that all the childhood memories, the analysis of this, analysis of that, the self doubt and the confusion.... well, I knew from the fact that I couldn't be bothered talking about them that they weren't really the issue. But the things I wanted to talk about, and the things I should have spoken about but couldn't, or wouldn't... I knew from the unease those questions provoked that they were the things that really mattered. And somehow, in the objectivity of the counselling environment, it all seemed rather clear. That you can end up hating yourself over something as simple, and blameless, as... At which point I think I should stop, before I get too personal, and before I doubt my own words. I don't have any answers as a result of counselling, but nor do I expect to, which is why I won't be taking up the offer of further sessions. But the one session I had did help clear some muddy water, and it did restore a little of my self respect. Which I guess is some sort of recommendation.
Yes that fundamentally is , what you are doing ,when you go and visit a psychotherapist. I managed to get this therapy on the NHS ,I had experienced some awful symptoms following being in a triple pileup ,in which I thought i was going to die. For several months after this,starting with a months convalscence ,I began to experience suicidal feelings accompanied by panic attacks .I couldnt work out what was wrong with me,I had never heard of Post traumatic stress disorder,until I spoke to the head of mental health services in my area,and described my symptoms to Him. He said that was what I had ,and suggested I ask my Doctor to reccomend me by letter to see a particular Psychologist. I made my first appointment. The first few appiontments were made up of Him just listening to me ,and acting in a non invasive way, that helped my to talk and face my terror. At this time it was in a little Cottage in the hospital grounds,so it was very relaxing. I found that I wasnt only dealing with my shock in the present but was having to deal with other traumas in the past as well. He suggested that I write letters to people that had caused me hurt and to not particularly send them ,but it did help to unburden things . Particulaly to my Father that had deserted us more than once ,and whom I had only seen at 6 years old and then briefly ,on a bus at age 21,not realixing it was Him until I had left the bus ,he just smiled at me . I of course had very mixed feelings about this. I never saw him again . I lost my suicidal feelings after having some real aggravations of these feeling,the Samaritons helped me about 7 times ,to get passed these crisis ,*wonderful organisation*!! They are there even through the night . I went for therapy sometimes twice a week ,it took 5 years to lose the worst symptoms ,then He left the door open so to speak ,and I returned a few times ,Death of my Mother
I needed to talk awhile,I am very grateful for His help .He also helped me later as a carer giving support and general advice.I now attend a carers group ,were we give mutual support. Yes I feel what a psychologist does is: share some space with you and Him alone ,and the outcome is He helps to hold up a mirrror so to speak where you eventually work out what is wrong with you. This is needed with conditions like PTSD,because believe me you friends and family wont understand you ,He did. The careful handling of your symptoms will help to reduce them,yes I did get annoyed with him some times ,because He wasnt saying what I wanted to hear ,but what they do is suggest two opposite pionts of view to get to the truth,and you have to ,as you get stronger stand your ground ,with what is the truth of your experience. In states like PTSD ,the chemical balance of the brain has gone out of kilt because of the severe shock ,and it takes time for this to right itself. This is the time you really need support,I think most mental ailments have the same cause,so patient handling ,by a professional is needed. So if you suffer similar ask your GP. I do feel cut backs have reduced this lately,but society as a whole would benefit,if poeple in crisis were helped more ,I think more crisis centres are needed,where people are treated with dignity ,this doesnt always happen ,as a carer I have seen some need for improvement,for people with long term problems.
Art psychotherapy counselling uses art, music and drama therapy to encourage self expression. Most artistic pursuits are forms of self-expression and so, they can be used to help the mentally ill, treat people with psychological and emotional problems and disorders. Music, dancing and drawing are excellent outlets for pent up emotions. These were first recognised as long ago as World War 2 when then were used to help rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. Art therapies are in fact accepted by the NHS. In 1982 the Diploma in Art Therapy was formally recognised by the Department of Health. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ WHAT EXACTLY IS ART THERAPY? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Art psychotherapy uses a number of different methods and therapies to overcome psychological problems. It helps to encourage discussions about how people actually feel about themselves and how others react to them. It helps people to gain some sort of control over their lives by expressing repressed emotions. This is done in a safe situation so that the patient doesn't feel threatened or intimidated. It doesn't matter which option : art, music or dance, the patient uses. It is a matter of choosing which ever the therapist decides is the best option for that particular patient. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ HOW DOES IT WORK? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Self expression is encouraged through drawing, pottery, sculpture and other art forms. The therapist studies what has been created in order to get an idea of 'what makes the patient tick'. This helps to start discussion with patients who find it hard to trust and form close relationships. Drama therapy involves groups of people engaged in role play. They act out imaginary scenarios which can help to educate them or further their creativity and personal
growth. Music therapy is used in hospitals and residential schools. It can help to calm hyperactivity, and calm patients with dementia. Dance uses movement to help expression of the emotions. It is particularly useful for those who are anxious or depressed. Children with learning difficulties benefit considerably. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ IS IT A SAFE THERAPY? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ All these art therapies are perfectly safe but they do need to tailored to the individual's requirements. The actual form the therapy takes must be appropriate for the individual concerned. This is where a trained therapist is essential. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ HOW DO I FIND A THERAPIST? WHAT DOES IT COST? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Art therapy has been practised by qualifies, skilled practitioners for many years. It is recognised by the NHS and so are the relevant qualifications. The initials RATh (registered art therapist), RMTh (music therapist) and SRMTh (State registered music therapist) are the ones to look for. (There may also be other perfectly good qualifications, so don't think that these are the only ones.) An NHS doctor can refer you to an art therapist or give you a list of qualified individuals in your area. If you can't get these therapies on the NHS (form some reason) private therapy sessions cost around #28 per hour depending where you live.
Hi, firstly in writing this I am talking about Counselling in general,and why am I writing about this subject, because it is a subject of mystery to most people, and stigma to others, and its about time the mystery was cracked and opened up a little.. Where do I fit in to all this...? well I have spent the last 12 years counselling Children and young teens who have been abused or who have behaviour problems, in addition to which for the last 6 years I have been Counselling all ages groups who have been bereaved, but specialising in Children when ever there is a need for a specialist Counsellor, I am a trained Bereavement Counsellor and have a degree in Psychology and been trained to MSc level I have also work to the British Association of Counsellors (BAC) code of practise, so I write this with a little experience and background..... Counselling holds no magic cures for those who enter into a counselling relationship, for most people who are being counselled, the answers to their problems lie deep within themselves and therefore they already have most if not all of the answers before counselling starts, it is the Counsellors job in this relationship to help their ' client' to find those answers, rather like being a lost key which opens a locked door to the answers, which ultimately steers the client though the milestones that lie ahead and also to be a safety net when things sometimes get too heavy.... Counselling is therefore in general terms a safety net for the client, it is more often than not given on a one to one basis, but can be also be given in groups sometimes referred to as group therapy, however, I am talking about one to one couselling for the purposes of this Op... ~~~ o0o ~~~ It is usual to enter into a verbal or formal counselling contract at the beginning of the relationaship, where a mutual agreement between the Counsellor and the client is formed, this relates to the number of sessions, the
duration of each session ( which is usually strictly adhered to ) and an agreement about confidentialtity. ALL counselling is totally confidential unless the client threatens to either harm themselves or harm someone else.. It is usual to start with 6 one hour sessions either one per week or once every two weeks, and each seesion would usually either be held at the clients home in a quiet room void of all interference ( such as telephone and/or other interuptions) or at a special counselling centre which has a room set aside for such purposes, it is important that the client feels totally at ease and able to devote a whole hour to the session without being interupted.... ~~~ o0o ~~~ Counselling can bring up a mixed bag of emotions, and forgotten feelings, it is important to bear this in mind, as there may well be other unresolved issues that in time will come to the surface, Counselling will help you to uncover and deal with these emotions, but you should bear in mind that you may feel emotionally worse before you begin to feel better, towards the end of your agreed number of sessions, if it is felt mutually beneficial it may be possible to negotiate extra sessions, this will depend on the Counsellor and the policy of the organisation that is controling the Counsellor.. Each Counsellor will normally adopt the Professional code of ethyics as laid down by the British Association of Counselling, although not all Counsellors will be a member of this organisation, but will probably adopt their code of ethics...additionally every Counsellor will be supervised by a trained Counsellor and in doing so ensures that they give you the client a quality service and that they are dealing with you in the best possible way, it is also a safety net for the Counsellor and they can unload any ' baggage ' that has been put on them...there are other issues but I wont go into them here... ~~~ o0o ~~~ So Counselling is a
good way of getting in touch with your self again, regaining control and a trained Counsellor will help and guide you through the emotional maze in order for you to successfully achieve this in safety....There is no stigma in having counselling, it is merely an in depth ' chat' with a stranger..something we all do when we travel and meet strangers, we are all tempted to tell perfect strangers our problems over a drink......would you feel embarressed if I told you that in a roundabout way this is a kind of informal counselling and quite theraputic...which is why some people say that they feel much better having met a total stranger and chatted to them !! Don't be embarrassed about asking for Counselling or being Counselled, after all its only a chat with someone ( IN CONFIDENCE) usually on a one ot one basis...something we are all capable of doing....the hardest part of Counselling is picking up the phone to make that first appointment to talk to someone!! the rest is easy.........so if you are ready to talk !!.....then find your nearest phone dial the number and ASK FOR THAT HELP..the only barrier between you and feeling better is YOU !! ~~~ o0o ~~~
For those of you who have read my opinion on stress management you will know that I was a practicing therapist. As part of my training I had to do intensive training in psychotherapy and counselling which was an ongoing part of my job and I have trained in these techniques over many years. It was not an easy path to take, and I do have some controversial views on this subject. I hope that you gain something out of this opinion. You may find that some of my opinion may seem a little clinical in my approach. This is because I am trying to provide an understanding of the method itself. For anyone that has undergone psychotherapeutic counselling then you will know how very hard it is. It is by no means an easy process. WHAT IS COUNSELLING ******************** Imagine that you are surrounded, trapped by the sea. Behind you is your only form of escape, a cliff. There are 3 things that could happen: - 1... You could climb the cliff carefully to safety. 2...You could be afraid to climb the cliff but you have your mobile telephone with you so you could call for help. 3... Your phone has no signal, the cliff is crumbling and you are in danger. In the first scenario you know that you can utilise your own skills to get you out of your situation. In the second scenario you know that you can help yourself but need assistance to do so. In the last scenario you know that you are in danger of facing a terrible obstacle that you definitely cannot deal with alone and you feel that the world for you maybe at an end. You can see from the above scenario that it is in the second and third case that you may need help. This is a little bit like how you know when you need some help resolving a personal issue. Counselling is a therapeutic relationship whereby you are encouraged to find solutions to problems. It about talking and looking within for answers. At times this is not
easy to do alone. We can get “stuck” in our life’s pathways and not see a clear way forward. Counselling can help us at that crossroads of our life to decide which way to go. Friends sometimes can act as counsellors. We have all been there haven’t we; faced with an event that has upset us or is going to change our lives. We have all at one time turned to our friends for that shoulder to lean on in a crisis. In fact counselling is really about LISTENING. How many times have you said to someone that they have been a good listener, perhaps somebody has said it about you? Even a shop assistant at the checkout in Tesco’s can provide a service, a listening ear. I am sure that it has happened to you. You are feeling disgruntled, there you are at the checkout and suddenly your whole life story starts coming out. But don’t you feel better afterwards? It is a physical release of all the tension that has manifested itself inside. Obviously some problems are more sever than others and require more intensive and specialized help called psychotherapy. WHAT IS PSYCHOTHERAPY *********************** Psychotherapy is really more of an intense counselling experience. It involves a counsellor who is aware of the complex mechanisms that our part of our entire make up. It is a process of relating, experiencing and in ultimately coming towards decisions that will “heal” the emotional problems. The mind is a wonderful and amazing thing. It has the capacity to rationalise and reason and solve problems. The therapist will help their client reason their way through the problems they are experiencing. It is a difficult journey, one, which requires a lot of work by both the therapist and the client and is not to be undertaken lightly. It can take months and sometimes years to go through this healing process and needs commitment from both the
therapist and the client. Both counselling and psychotherapy are about encouraging a positive solution to the presenting problem and teaching the client to understand their own worth as an individual. WHAT SKILLS ARE INVOLVED ************************* A psychotherapist will watch their client for “signals”, which will give significant clues as to how that person is feeling and what is the problem. The therapist will work within these areas to provide their client with insight as to how they can progress through their problems. EMPATHY -------- There is an innate difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is a term which can be described as “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”, and allowing yourself to imagine how they could feel, but not allowing yourself to get caught up in the emotional experience itself. Therefore you can still be an effective therapist as your mind is clear and you can help the client see the way ahead. It also stops you taking another persons emotions on board. If you do this then you are no longer an effective help to them as then you start addressing your own issues instead of theirs. It is about allowing the focus of attention to rest on the person with the problem and NOT about talking about yourself. When we sympathise with someone we allow ourselves to become immersed in that personal feelings and experiences, but because we get caught up in these feelings our own emotions can get effected this would not make us a very good therapeutic tool. LISTENING ----------- The most valuable tool of all. It is the crux of all counselling and psychotherapy. The most effective therapists will be good listeners. Most of a therapy session will involve the therapist listening to their client talk. It is strange and I don’t know if you have ever experienced it but when you voice your p
roblems verbally instead of keeping them held within they immediately take on a new stance. It is almost as if you are “seeing “ them for the first time. They sound different when they are externally spoken. Let me give you an example. You have been mulling something over for weeks and kept it to yourself and then all of a sudden you can do that no longer. You voice your concerns to a friend and then you may by the end of a long chat say “oh yes, why didn’t I think of that before”. What you have actually done is change your minds way of looking at the problem itself. A little like imagining the taste of chocolate rather than when you actually taste it. ID, EGO AND SUPER-EGO ----------------------- In psychology the id, ego and super-ego are facets of the human psyche, which make up its general behaviour pattern. To be an effective psychotherapist, much study is done on how these three things effect our personal makeup. In very brief detail as it is a very complex subject: - ID- Sometimes know as the child within. EGO- Our selfish part of our self. SUPER-EGO- Our higher self. This is the part of our brain we unconsciously utilise. VERBAL COMMUNICATION ---------------------- A. MENTAL DEFENCE MECHANISMS ----------------------------- A therapist is a little like a detective, always on the look out for clues. You must of come across a situation whereby you ask someone a question and KNOW that they have given you an untrue answer. We use mental defence mechanisms both consciously and unconsciously to “protect” our selves form what we perceive as a harmful situation. One which could upset us. Here’s an example of a conscious mechanism: - “ I am sorry I forgot our anniversary, I really thought it was tomorrow”. In psychotherapy the clues from a client can be much su
btler than this. I will list some defence mechanisms that you may have used yourselves. A psychotherapist will pick up on these outward responses. *RATIONALIZATION- This is the way in which you can excuse your behaviour by providing weird and wonderful explanations for it, sometimes going into a story of great detail. At it’s worse this will come into effect with you unconsciously reasoning away irrational behaviour that you are unaware is irrational in the first place. You would usually say something like - “I did this because of so and so” Complicated eh! It takes a long time to understand these things. *DISPLACEMENT- Have you ever felt angry or frustrated and instead of directing those feelings at yourself and understanding why you feel them, you vent them out onto another person or an object. This is displacement. *EXTERNALISATION- This is when you blame external factors for your behaviour instead of looking for the reason for your behaviour in the first place. *PROJECTION- Sometimes unawares we mirror our own personality and faults onto another. We see in them the things in us we do not like. We may dislike them for their faults which are actually OUR own. This is very common and we all do it to a certain to degree although we are not aware of it. *MINIMISATION- Our inner selves can sometimes make a problem appear smaller to us than it actually is. Think of debt. At the onset you may think it will be ok it isn’t that bad. deep inside you know that it is a significant problem. *REGRESSION- Reverting to more “childlike” behaviour. *INTELLECTUALISING- Going around the houses with some fantastic story to prevent yourself having to do a certain thing. *FANTASY- Sometimes it is easier to escape into a daydream rather than face reality. There are many, many more mental defence mechanisms that we utilise on a daily basis. I know I use
some of the above and I can bet that you have too. B. THE WAY WE TALK -------------------- The way we speak is an important clue to how we are feeling. We may speak slowly and with little emotion in our voices if we are feeling depressed. If we are anxious about something our speech may speed up and when we are expressing anger the volume of our voice is raised. C. NON - VERBAL COMMUNICATION ------------------------------- Have you ever watched a group of people interacting? It’s true what they say; actions DO speak louder than words. They way you communicate without talking hold important keys to the ways you respond to others and how you are feeling yourself. A psychotherapist will pick up on these signals. *EYE CONTACT- We can say a lot with just a look can’t we. Anger, love, laughter and sorrow can all be expressed by just our eyes. If we are attracted to someone our pupils become dilated. The eyes can also tell us our cognitive (thinking) responses. For example if you look down whilst speaking you are “feeling” some kind of emotion. Looking up can mean you are “visualising” a certain event. It is even possible to detect when a person is lying by how their eyes respond. *BODY POSTURE- our physical stance can show how we feel too. If you sit hunched and wrap your arms around yourself you are giving off information to those around you that you wish to be left alone and feel depressed. If you feel anxious you may be unable to sit still and appear fidgety. An open body posture indicates self-assertiveness, and, there are even ways in which we interact non-verbally that can indicate sexual attraction towards another. *PERSONAL GROOMING- It is obvious isn’t it that a person who is depressed may dress in such a manner that would indicated not “being bothered” with the world in general
and themselves. Perhaps they will be drawn to darker colours to detract attention from themselves. If you are feeling on “a high you” may be drawn to brighter colours. This is not rule of thumb, it is a little more complex than this, but does give a general stance. * Note* Some people who are depressed disguise the fact so well that you would never know how awful they feel so the points I make on non-verbal communication are general points. This is a complex subject that could be an opinion all on its own. SO WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP ************************ All sorts of things can trigger the need for counselling and psychotherapy. Stress over your job, a bereavement, an addiction, depression, anxiety, gosh this list could be endless. Emotional problems can go back to our childhood and teenage years. They can grow and grow and it is not until we reach adulthood that they can present themselves. The mind will also suppress disturbing events and make you “forget” them on purpose so as to save you from emotional dilemma. Unfortunately another experience in later years can trigger off a negative emotional reaction. Imagine a cupboard full of all sorts or weird and wonderful things. One day you put something away in there and the shelf collapses and not everything will fit back in there no matter how hard you try. You cannot close the door. In the end all your strength is used up and more and more tumbles out. Psychotherapy helps you put the shelves back and stack the cupboard back tidily so that the door can be shut again. Sometimes you know there is something wrong but cannot even figure out what it is. The normal activities of your daily living get affected. This can be anything from socialising, your appetite, even your sexuality and the relationship with your partner. You appear to have no control over the way you feel. <br><br><br> The first step is to admit to there being a problem, then go to see your G. P and ask for help. They should refer you to see a counsellor of a specific type or a psychotherapist. If you do not get this referral then you should ASK. Nowadays though a majority of general practitioners will provide you with a channel that you can go through to provide you with the help you will need. There is also the private option. A lot of therapists function privately and independently of the NHS although this can be expensive. THE COUNSELLOR **************** This is where I have very strong views and where you may or may not disagree with me. As part of my therapeutic training I had to undergo psychotherapy myself. It was a specific part of the studying I was doing. I believe to be of any effective use to anyone else then the therapist MUST undergo therapy too. There is a specific reason for this. In order for therapy to be effective then a relationship has to exist between the therapist and the client which is professional and concentrates on the specific agendas of the client. The therapist has to be aware of their own psyche and its relationship to themselves in order to be an effective medium for change within any other therapeutic relationship. I believe that some therapists have their own agendas and subconsciously “use” their clients for their own reasons. They feed their own egos instead of helping their clients. This is when therapy is NOT effective and can cause more problems than when it was initiated. Then the therapists own mental defence mechanisms come into place and instead of resolving their clients issues their are unconsciously trying to resolve their own. It doesn’t happen often nowadays but you need to be sure of your therapist, trust and feel comfortable with them before initiating into any “deepR
21; psychotherapy with them. It is very important to know before undergoing any therapy what sort of training the therapist has had. A majority of therapists will be only too happy to tell you their history as regards their training, but I would say to be very wary of those who are more show than substance. As a therapist you have to have a great deal of understanding of what emotional health is and how it can go wrong. WHAT HAPPENS DURING PSYCHOTHERAPY ********************************** If you have never visited a psychotherapist before then you will have no idea as to how they work or what they will do to you. You may have heard of psychotherapy but if you have never experienced it then you will probably be full of assumptions. A therapist does not have the power to provide immediate relief from worries and intense emotional problems. They will not do the work for you, it is a two way process. The therapist agrees to provide a therapeutic working relationship in an effort to encourage you to provide effective solutions to the distress you are feeling. They will not prescribe you with medication or produce an overnight cure and will not give you a list of instructions that will dispel your obvious inability to function normally. So what does happen? Well, firstly you need to make sure that the therapist you are seeing makes you feel at ease and that you could trust them. Therapy is based on an enormous amount of trust. You will be disclosing some of your inner most thoughts and feelings that you have never shared before. This of course is not a forced process; it is totally up to you the individual to disclose these intimate things. A psychotherapist will discuss anything you want to talk about. They will encourage you to work through your problems, whatever that takes. They will support you through this process but cannot do the hard and painfu
l work for you. They will gently act as a guide to take you through the healing process. CONFIDENTIALITY ----------------- The therapist will tell you that they adhere to a strict code of confidentiality. What is said in the room stays there. Of course there are very rare circumstances where by the therapist may have to divulge information, for example if you are a high suicidal risk. I think that anyone in those circumstances whether they are a counsellor or not would want to ensure the safety of another. If the therapist thinks that they will have to intervene in these circumstances then they will say so. NOTHING is done without the knowledge of the client. THE SESSIONS THEMSELVES ------------------------ A strict time is set for the sessions. The therapist will say what time is allowed for the session. This can be from half an hour to an hour. More than this and the therapist gets tired the client gets more and more emotionally drained and the session becomes ineffective. More than likely you will sit across from the therapist in a room that provides a relaxing environment. No psychiatrists couch here! No desk will be in the way. It is important for you to see that the therapist is not “hiding” anything from you and that you can observe them as much as they can you. A desk is but an obstacle. You will be encouraged to talk about anything you like. The therapist will listen and will be completely focused on what you are saying and will show he is by nodding or telling you to keep on going as much as you can. If this is initially difficult then the psychotherapist will encourage “small talk” until you relax and feel comfortable enough to start talking over the real issues. This may take a few sessions. Nothing here happens overnight, it is a long and intensive process. At first it may seem like such a relief just to tal
k. You may find yourself saying things that you just didn’t know were inside you. This can sometimes produce initial feelings of euphoria but be under no misconceptions. Psychotherapy is hard work; it is after the first few sessions that you will start to realise how hard. It would be wrong of me to pass it off as being easy. A good psychotherapist will use their skill to help you see how you are thinking, what you are feeling and why. LISTENING and answering your questions with a question of their own is the basic fundamental key of therapeutic gain. The things you are experiencing will more than likely be attached to painful memories and it is here that the hard work begins. Subconsciously your mind will say “ NO, NO I don’t want to go here.” Your conscious intellect may say to you, “maybe this isn’t so good, I mean what happens if I get even more upset“. Or, “ I know I am not going to like going through this, but if I do get through will anyone still like the way I am, I will of changed. I don’t like the way I am but I am even more scared of change.” You will be encouraged to address your emotional issues and find ways of talking about them and coping with them. The pathway through all this will seem like a jungle. You may fall down along the way, even going back a few steps before regaining those you have lost and progressing onwards. This is all part of the process of self-discovery and of learning why we are what we are and what is making us react. You may find that the same problem keeps coming up in a session, that you are not going anywhere, only around and around. This is not really, as it seems. A therapist will have the knowledge and experience to know where they are taking you. It will be done as gently as possible and sometimes we have to talk about the same thing over and over again before we “can see the wood for the trees
”. <br> You may get angry and upset with the therapist as part of using your mental defence mechanisms. The therapist may give you tasks they wish for you to complete at home. Perhaps they may ask you to write about a feeling or perhaps it will be a task in which you have to start confronting an anxiety that you have. It will be something that you are able to do; it will never be something that will overstretch your limitations at any given time. One thing is for sure it WILL be a painful process it WON’T be an easy one, but you CAN get through it and recover from those deep seated issues which you could not resolve alone. There are different types of psychotherapy also. It can be more centred on thinking and behaviour. Useful if you suffer from a neurosis or addiction. There is also group psychotherapy. People of all ages gather with a therapist to discuss and learn from each other’s personal experiences regarding a specific type of problem. Psychotherapy is based on experiencing feelings and painful memories attached to them. The memories are sometimes very difficult to deal with, but demons need to be exorcised within a safe environment for us to progress on our life’s pathway and whatever it holds. It would take me a long time and a very, very long opinion to go into too much more detail about the sessions themselves. They are intricate things to explain so I have provided but a short outline for you. THE END RESULT *************** Psychotherapy is a tool in which unhealthy coping skills are identified and reasons are found for that with the help of talking to a person qualified to understand the issues involved. With the help of this person insight can be sought and positive coping skills are discovered. Hopefully in the light of the new dawn you will be able to recognise within yourself your inner beauty and develop a p
ositive approach to the rest of your life. A FINAL NOTE ************ I apologise for the length of this opinion, it was difficult to keep it as short as this! Psychotherapy is not for everyone. Indeed for those who are extremely psychotic and have absolutely no insight into the fact they have issues that need to be dealt with it is NOT advisable at all. It is only for those who know they have difficulty coping with life and know that for whatever reason they need to address issues with themselves. Some people only get through a small amount of psychotherapy before giving up on it altogether; the road is a tough one. I blame the therapist a lot for this as I feel with the right therapist and time issues can be resolved. It needs a psychotherapist with a clear head and an awareness of their own issues and no need to have those involved in the treatment of another that is the most effective. NEVER should a therapist persuade a client to talk about issues they do not wish to talk about. It destroys the trust within that relationship and can be very dangerous. Remember the cupboard? Only the items that have fallen out need to be dealt with. On NO account should anyone probe deeper into the depths of someone’s psyche to reveal what they wish to remain disclosed. The persons own subconscious will eventually allow whatever NEEDS to be resolved to come to the fore whatever that may be. The psychotherapist should be a conduit for the persons emotions and feelings not a tap that turns on a never ending flood. As I have said, I underwent psychotherapy myself, in fact over a 5-year period. I HAD to address my own agendas in order for them not to become a problem when I encountered my own clients. I was in no way a dysfunctional person, but I did learn that whatever I thought, there were certain parts of my life that I needed to think about and fee
lings I needed to address before I could become an effective therapist. I know how painful the process is; I have been through it. It is by no means easy, but for some it can provide answers and reasons for the way they feel and express themselves. This can then lead to an acceptance of the way you are and a new phase, a positive phase can begin. TALKING can help if you have an EFFECTIVE listener. USEFUL WEB SITES ****************** BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR COUNSELLORS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS www.counselling.co.uk FOR HELP REGARDING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES www.mentalwellness.com ** I have given this opinion 3 stars as it is not for everyone so I didn't feel it could be a 5 star option. **
Having read Stresshead's V.U. Op. on this subject I wondered if I could add anything of value. It's 2 years ago that I received Cognitive Therapy & as my memory is not too good I looked through my other memory, here on the computer, & found this letter to my therapist which explained exactly how I felt at the time & what it did for me. I hope that it might be of interest to you. "I have just returned home after our penultimate meeting and thought that I had better get my thoughts on paper straight away. Looking back on the last few months and in particular our meetings I am unable to remember specific incidents but I do have the overall feeling that talking to you has done me a lot of good. I have become very aware of patterns of behaviour and how they contribute to my illness. However, I still feel unable to change and although I realise that “to recognise “ is an achievement of sorts I sometimes feel that things were easier before you made me aware that I could change the way I behave and / or respond. I am, by nature, very impatient and now that you have provided me with a CHOICE I want to change overnight and be well adjusted, content with myself and less critical (of myself first of all and then others) but I have the awful feeling that I will slip back in to my old ways and the treadmill will continue. Perhaps you could give me some pointers as to where I can jump off without feeling a failure and remind me of my strengths, which you seem to see but which I am blind to. We have touched on the problem I have had with certain men in my life and I have come to realise that I feel threatened by men in general. This presumably is why I chose my husband to marry as he is uncritical and undemanding. This still leaves the problem with the guy at work, which I honestly cannot see being resolved. My feelings alternate between hatred for making me so ill and understanding why he dislikes me so much. I also feel very le
t down by the partners at the office, their lack of action in the first place and the way that they always take the easy way out. It certainly seems to me that men in general bury their heads in the sand and hope things resolve themselves. I remember the senior partner once saying to me that there was less work waiting for him if he took 3 weeks holiday instead of 2 weeks, as problems tended to solve themselves eventually. This may be right but I find that attitude so frustrating – inactivity makes me quite angry but it is probably because I envy the laid back attitude which is totally contrary to my basic nature. I am feeling very anxious and wound up just at the moment – (WE WERE MOVING HOUSE) our purchaser has rung again moaning about the apportionment figure and my husband is ready to capitulate – anything for a quiet life but I do not want to give in to him – it is becoming a battle and I feel that we have already given too much and he is bullying us as he sees us as an easy touch. I will have to stop this for now and go out. 29th. March. Nearly a week has gone by and what a week; our purchaser has continued to hassle and made an appointment to come this morning as he had several questions. Worried myself sick thinking he would pull out but everything still seems OK. Why do I get so worked up, there are time (usually in the early hours) that I feel totally panic stricken. However, I am still here which is something I suppose but I don't know where I would be without – 1. My husband & 2. Prozac. James, I think I am going to need some counselling or some help after our meetings finish, I feel far from able to go it alone yet and it is nice to unburden myself to “a stranger”. If nothing else it helps my confidence which is at an all time low, just to converse with someone apart from my family is therapeutic. Well, that’s it; all that remains is to thank you so much fo
r your time and your help at one of the most difficult times in my life. It must be so gratifying to have a job like yours – you have obviously chosen your career very wisely. Thanks, thanks, and thanks again. Jean." Two years on & I am feeling much better but I just want to emphasise that talking, getting things off your chest, crying, shouting, all of these things DO help; especially if they are done in a controlled & safe environment and to a "stranger", someone who will not spend the rest of the day/week worrying about you. It is not perfect, far from it but it’s much, much better than nothing. It obviously important that you like and get on well with your therapist but I doubt if you have a choice under the NHS. However, anyone who goes in for this type of profession must be a caring person by nature. They are certainly not in it for the money or the easy hours. The moral is - get off the treadmill friends.
Personally I wouldn't recommend cognitive therapy to anyone. My experience of it, which I have to say was back in the 80's, left me with the feeling that everyone considered me to be totally insane and stupid. I began to wonder if the therapist actually knew what I was there for (I was, and still am suffering from anorexia). At the first appointment I was asked to find the matching pair, for example she said table and I had to say chair, she said knife I had to say fork. The list went on. I will just add, incase you are wondering, that I was in my early twenties. By the time I left I felt about four. I dreaded the next appointment,and it ended up just as disappointing as the first. This time I was showed some pictures. I had to say what was in the pictures ( such things as a long dark tunnel) , and what the picture meant to me. Because I said I couldn't see anything and it meant nothing to me, she started to bring out some colour pictures as she thought they would be easier than black and white. By now I was beginning to get awkward and everything I was asked I just replied "I'm not mental". I knew this just wasn't going to be of any help to me, and didn't go back again. A few months later, after yet another spell in hospital, it was decided that I should have a community psychiatric counsellor. This was so different, she talked to me as a friend and I began to totally trust her with any problems. We talked about all sorts of things, but very rarely about food or anorexia, she seemed to understand that anorexia was just my way of coping. She was more interested in what caused it. I won't pretend that it cured me,it didn't, but it certainly helped. I felt that for once I'd got someone who was on my side. Then the inevitable happened, she had to move to a different area. I was devastated, it was as though the only person who really knew me, had gone. After
she left I was referred to a psychologist. There were a few annoying things to begin with, like she'd ask me to sit in a different chair and pretend to be someone else. Back then I knew nothing about psychiatry (not that I know much more now) and couldn't understand where any of this was getting me. The only thing it did for me was make me embarassed, and feel stupid. The psychologist could see how these little tests upset me, and took another approach. She talked to me, and listened to me instead. From then on we had a much better relationship and my trust in her grew. She seemed to really care and genuinely understand how I felt, and when I look back now I know she understood a lot more than I realised. She obviously had major problems in her own life, she committed suicide before our sessions had finished.
This is my 2nd op on here, thanks to those of you who took the time out to rate my first one thus encouraging me to do this one! I hope that I am putting it in the correct category? I did read the little bit on here about psychotherapy counselling and came to the conclusion that it really did best suit my experience below. Thank you. I would ask you here to bear with me on this one. I am writing it from personal experiences, some of which are a little hard to confront again. I hope that I will be articulate enough in this opinion? And I think that it is going to be a long opinion too, thank you to those of you who will want to stay with me the whole way through. I have always considered myself to be a good listener, I now know that I could never be a counsellor. Not only do they have to be able to do the above but they also have to “hear” as well, some things that are not said are more relevant than those that are. That is an admirable skill in itself. Now that I have given you my opinions on what a good counsellor is I will begin to tell you about my own experiences with a very good counsellor. When my mother died in 1996 I coped well, or so I thought so. I coped by being busy, ensuring that everyone else around me was coping, and giving myself little attention. It works for me. I grieved in the usual way and after a reasonable amount of time the pain receded. We all know that it never goes away, but it sure lessens with time. I threw myself into the usual running of my house and family and all was going well, as far as these things can! The only slight niggle I could complain about was that I was suffering more and more migraines. My very understanding GP was very patient with me reassuring me over and over again that it was extremely unlikely that I was suffering from the same ailment that my mother died from, a brain tumour…. I am a very logical and “together” rational human being but it is surpri
sing how these things can play on your sub consciousness, or maybe not so surprising…. Eventually my GP and myself settled on a combination of drugs that seemed to be keeping my migraines at bay, more or less. Last year my family underwent a few upsets mainly in the way of one of my sons. I will not go into all the details, what happened is irrelevant and when written down (as I have just done and then promptly deleted it!) it looks rather pathetic and not worth worrying about. But worry we did, and in a big way. I worry by wondering what is going to happen and how I am going to deal with it when it does. My husband bottled it all up, and as a result was diagnosed with a dangerously high blood pressure. Thankfully he was treated swiftly and although still on medication to control this, he is doing ok. Anyway I have gone off track a bit, I knew I would! Sorry!! I coped with this stressful time in my life by yelling, lots and loudly, if you asked my neighbours they would confirm that!! On the odd occasion I felt like in was seriously cracking up, some times I would be found slumped in a corner wondering what on earth I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was heading for a breakdown, I was led to believe that you will never know if this is about to happen, it will just hit you? As I let myself get more and more stressed (you try stopping it?) my migraines became more and more frequent. The medication I was on was still effective it was just the worry that I was getting through so many of the prescribed drugs, as opposed to the “preventatives” that I took regularly. At this time I paid another visit to my doctor. She listened patiently and then came up with 2 suggestions. 1. I could try a different drug, one of the side effects being that it might make me put on weight. Now I am no Kate Moss, so I needed that like I needed a hole in the head, so I declined! 2. Counselling for stress. The 2nd suggestion knocked
me for six, principally because I didn’t think I was suffering from stress. After spending a few days consideration I decided that I would take her up on the Counselling option. That was a little over a year ago and as they say, what a difference a year can make! For the past year I have been spending 40 minutes each week with a wonderful counsellor and I truly feel that I have made considerable progress in my stress management. I was sceptical at the start. One of the first things I said to her was, “I don’t like talking about myself very much” and then proceeded, unprompted to reveal more about “me and mine” than I had ever intended to. The 2nd thing I did was to describe to her how I perceived myself and what I thought others thought of me, adding, “I do not want to change, I like me the way I am”. The first few months I found myself mainly telling her about what had happened to me during the past week, and how I was dealing with it. At first I did not think that it was helping me all that much, I was still getting migraines frequently. I am a very impatient soul, and I expect results yesterday! As time has gone on I feel differently, very much so. The 40 minutes I spend with my counsellor each week is a real boon to me. How often do we, any of us, get the luxury of being able to talk about whatever we like, pour out our worries and be generally self-indulgent for almost a whole hour? I am in what is classed as a “self realisation” programme. By this you are encouraged to come to your own conclusions and by way of that, eventually possible solution to your “problems”. I did not like the idea of that at the beginning, I wanted to be told what to do and given ways to deal with my stress, etc. I couldn’t see the point of having to do all the work yourself. I now see that this is the only way, and then it is you who makes the decisions, whatever they may be. Therefore, it
is you who has started to find a solution. Since I have been going I have “discovered” lots of things about me, I know now that I was probably suffering considerable stress just after my bereavement, but by concentrating my energies into the rest of the family I was denying my right to “need”, instead of just being needed. I won’t bore you with too many other details about what I have and haven’t discovered, it is pretty boring to anyone else, but invaluable to me. When I first started to go I chose not to share this fact with my work colleagues, I suppose I saw it as a bit like admitting I couldn’t cope with everyday life, when it seemed everyone else was. Or were they? Would it be held against me, the fact that I was seeing a counsellor? I have now “come out” (in a manner of speaking!!) and lots of my colleagues know now that I go to see my “shrink!!” each week. A few of then have asked me about it and have expressed a kind of envy that I am permitted to spend this time talking, just about me if I so desire! I am pleased to report that my migraines are decreasing in frequency. I am learning to deal with life and all that it throws at you, much more efficiently than I did a year or two ago. I look forward to my weekly sessions, I feel deprived if I miss one. It is not “selfish” to spend time talking about yourself, it is something not enough of us have the opportunity, nor the luxury to be able to do. I am privileged. So I would say this to any of you in a similar situation. If you are offered any kind of counselling be it, bereavement, stress or relationship/marriage, don’t shrug it off as something that only “weak” people need (I can assure you I am by no means a weak person..) You might just find it invaluable, as I have done, and as they say, “It IS good to talk!!” Thank you very much for you time. I hope that I ha
ve helped? Kazzie!!
I guess I ought to pin my colours to the mast straight away - I am one. Or at least I'm working as a counsellor and training to be a psychotherapist...and of all my 250 opinions, this is the one I've found it hardest to write. Apart from deleting and restarting countless times, it's actually taken me months after suggesting this category before I've put fingers to keys and decided to try. Maybe it's partly because it's such an enormous subject that I know I won't do it justice, and maybe it's the perfectionist in me knowing that this has no chance of being as good as I would like it to be, but it's hard to know quite where to start. What springs to mind when you think of counsellors? Or therapists? Probably someone you've either known or even more likely, seen in a movie. All Americans have shrinks, don't they? Isn't that just part of the "wackiness" of their culture? Surely us stiff-upper-lipped Brits don't need them thank-you?! Among the stereotypes chances are there are quite a few bad ones. If you're lucky there may be one or two who've intrigued or appealed to you. I'd be surprised if any of them really seemed to be "normal"! But that's what we are - people like you and your friends and family who for whatever reason have decided to make a career out of helping others think things through and perhaps change themselves and their lives. We've all, if we're professionally accredited within the UK, been on the receiving end of counselling/therapy ourselves as part of our training and many of us still will be, so our understanding of the subject and the way people "work" is from the inside as well as from theory. OK, enough of the preamble - if you go to see a counsellor what can you expect and what are the things you should be looking out for? Generally speaking therapists work at a deeper level than counsellors, a
nd the training is longer and more rigorous and at a post-graduate level. Chances are you will end up paying more for someone who has trained for longer and had more experience, and there are a lot fewer psychotherapists around than there are counsellors. Most people only look for a counsellor because of some life crisis. Counselling is usually available on the NHS via your GP's surgery, but usually only for a very limited number of sessions, which might be just what you need to get you through a rough patch. Some Health Authorities offer longer term psychotherapy, but the provision of this is hit and miss, and in the area where I live the waiting list can be up to 2 years! Bearing this in mind you may need to look elsewhere for help. Other places to try are specific agencies offering counselling. These are often listed in the yellow pages, and include charities such as Relate, BACUP, Rape Crisis, Womens Aid and general local counselling centres. Telephone helplines can be a good place to get information about what help is available in your area, and I'd recommend Saneline (details in phone book) as one of the most useful sources. Some national organisations also offer telephone support/counselling and whereas this is very different from what you will experience face to face with someone, it can sometimes be easier to talk to someone relatively anonymously. If you want to see a counsellor privately, rather than through your GP or an agency, I'd recommend having an initial appointment with more than one to start with just to get a better idea of who you would feel most comfortable working with. A lot of the benefit in counselling/therapy comes from the relationship, and the "fit" between the two of you is important. Do you want, for example, to see a man or a woman? Does it matter if they're white if you feel that some of your problems stem from being part of an ethnic minority in this country? Are they s
omeone you think you could relate to? These things all matter, and are worth thinking through when you see someone for the first time. You might also want to think about whether this person has a lot of experience of dealing with the issues which are important to you and whether that affects your trust in their ability to help you. Many people going into counselling/therapy for the first time find it disconcerting. It's a strange experience paying someone to listen to you! It's important to remember that *you* are the one chooosing to receive a service from this person, and this puts *you* in control. Because of the nature of therapy, people often tend to forget that it has some similarities with paying someone to, for example, cut your hair - you choose someone you are comfortable with and who does work you are happy with. Choose someone who is either BAC (counselling) or UKCP (Psychotherapy)registered if you are looking for an independent practitioner, and don't be afraid to ask about their training background and experience level. Mostly a counsellor/therapist will start by making a contract with you for a set period of time, for example 6-8 weeks which you will both then review again once that time is up. Things you can expect from that contract are confidentiality, although they will need to be able to talk to their supervisor about you in order to safeguard you as the client; a regular day and time (although I am aware that not everyone would do this) and an agreed cost. There are a huge number of different approaches to counselling/therapy, and it's important to choose one which you are comfortable with. These range from the traditional Freudian approach which would have you using the couch (!) to more contemporary body therapies which work on you becoming aware of what your physical body is telling you about what is happening in your psyche. Inbetween these extremes lie cognitive behavioural mode
ls which will teach you to think in more positive ways and unlearn negative messages from the past; psychodynamic/analytic models which are based on the importance of unconscious material; TA which looks in a fairly structured way at past ways of relating and how these affect current behaviours, and the popular person-centred approach which puts the client firmly in control of the therapeutic process while offering empathy and understanding. If all this information on different models has done nothing but confuse you further, don't worry - research has shown that whatever the theoretical beliefs of the therapist, these are actually far less important than the relationship between therapist and client! I know this has been a long read, but I hope I've covered the main points - please do let me know in the comments section if there are other things you think I should include. Be prepared for therapy to change you. It's not magic, it's often not as quick as we'd like it to be, and it is often a very painful process, but we spent a lifetime collecting hurts and learning damaging ways of relating and it inevitably takes a while to undo this again. My personal experience and belief is that it's worth the time, effort and money, and it has brought some major changes to my own life. For some people therapy can be the lifeline they have been searching for, and a means of dealing with things which have seemed intractable before, but it is no easy option and almost never like you see it in the movies!