There are many differentreasons why someone might go to therapy. Counselling takes place when a counsellor sees a person in a private and confidential setting to explore a difficulty the person is having, distress they may be experiencing or perhaps their dissatisfaction with life, or loss of a sense of direction and purpose. It is always at the request of the person as no one can properly be 'sent' for counselling.
By listening attentively and patiently the counsellor can begin to perceive the difficulties from the person's point of view and can help them to see things more clearly, possibly from a different perspective. Counselling is a way of enabling choice or change or of reducing confusion. Counsellors do not judge or exploit their clients in any way.
In the counselling sessions the person can explore various aspects of their life and feelings, talking about them freely and openly in a way that is rarely possible with friends or family. Bottled up feelings such as anger, anxiety, grief and embarrassment can become very intense and counselling offers an opportunity to explore them, with the possibility of making them easier to understand. The counsellor will encourage the expression of feelings and as a result of their training will be able to accept and reflect the person's problems without becoming burdened by them.
Acceptance and respect for the person are essentials for a counsellor and, as the relationship develops, so too does trust between the counsellor and person, enabling the person to look at many aspects of their life, their relationships and themselves which they may not have considered or been able to face before. The counsellor may help the person to examine in detail the behaviour or situations which are proving troublesome and to find an area where it would be possible to initiate some change as a start. The counsellor may help the person to look at the options open to them and help them to decide the best option for them.
Psychotherapy is used to help people solve problems, achieve goals, and manage their lives by treating a variety of emotional health issues. This type of therapy is used to treat conditions like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and phobias.
Psychotherapy is a pro-active and collaborative process between a person and a therapist which aims to increase the individual's well-being and improve emotional health. This form of therapy utilises techniques based on experiential relationship building, communication and behaviour change. On occasion a therapist might give the person some 'homework' in the form of questionnaires or thought records which may be reviewed during the following session.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a combination of two types of therapy:
cognitive therapy, which helps with thinking processes such as unwanted thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs (called cognitive processes)
behavioural therapy, which focuses on behaviour in response to those thoughts
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is based on the belief that most unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving have been learned over a long period of time. Using a set of structured techniques, a CBT therapist aims to identify how a person is thinking and how this can cause problematic feelings and behaviour. The person then learns to change this way of thinking. This helps them to react more positively, which boosts their self-esteem and confidence.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps a person to challenge their negative beliefs and to think about times when they have been successful or to consider what happens to other people in similar situations. Once someone is thinking more realistically, they would be encouraged to imagine how they might go about confronting a feared situation.
The aim of CBT is to provide one with a timescale for overcoming a problem and to give one the insight and skills to improve ones quality of life. A person may then be able to cope and progress on your own once therapy is finished.
My Counselling Approach
My style of counselling incorporates the Person Centred approach combined with Cognitive Behavioural techniques. I believe that every individual has the resources within themselves to find their own solutions to whatever difficulties or challenges they face. My role is to aid one's awareness of these issues and help the person to recognise choices which they may not have realised were there.
I practice in a non- judgemental manner and offer people the space and opportunity to discuss whatever is causing their discontent in a safe and confidential setting. By exploring such matters and in doing so developing a trust -based relationship, the person increases their awareness of the problem areas in their life and begins to look options they may have for acceptance or change.
Some Issues Addressed by Counselling and Psychotherapy
Anger Management Everyone knows what anger is, and most people have felt it at some point in their life. It is a completely normal, often healthy, human emotion. However if anger becomes out of control it may lead to many problems, at work, in personal relationships and in the overall quality of life. Anger is natures way of empowering individuals to protect against a perceived attack or threat, it is only the mismanagement of anger that causes problems. Anger can often be an unpredictable and powerful emotion.
Mismanaged anger can lead to many negative outcomes; domestic abuse, workplace violence, road rage, addiction and divorce are only a few examples. Anger is often triggered by perceived threats and is a common reaction when someone has been insulted, hurt or unfairly treated. However when anger is controlled and managed appropriately, it may have a positive influence, helping individuals stand up for themselves and fight against injustices.
Like most emotions, anger is accompanied by psychological and biological changes; the person's heart rate and blood pressure will typically increase, as will the level of adrenaline. Anger is possibly the most poorly handled emotion in our society; the goal of anger management therefore is to reduce both the emotional feelings and physiological arousal that anger creates. Knowing how to recognise and express anger in the correct way can help individuals reach their goals, solve problems and handle emergencies.
If you feel that your anger is really out of control, and is affecting your life, counselling can help you develop a range of techniques for changing your thinking and behaviour. Without help, anger can lead to a variety of personal difficulties.
Anxiety Anxiety disorders are serious illnesses and differ from the normal feelings of nervousness. Anxiety is the fear of something that happened, or what we think happened and dread happening again. Although most people experience a relatively mild form of anxiety when facing particularly stressful situations, such as a presentation or speech, anxiety disorders are severe and can affect the day-to-day life of a sufferer.
If left untreated, those with the illness will avoid situations where they fear their symptoms may be triggered and this may lead to their career and personal relationships being affected.
Bereavement The loss of a significant person or object in someone’s life is a high factor contributing to mental distress. Bereavement is the path that consists of grief and mourning to help overcome the trauma of a loved one passing away. However, everybody reacts differently to someone dying and have separate ways of dealing with the situation. Some sufferers can appear extremely angry or constantly upset, yet some people appear unaffected by the loss or unemotional. Depression is also a common process of bereavement and it is thought that people are particularly vulnerable to disorders such as depression if the loss occurred at a younger age. Certain dates such as birthdays or anniversaries will make the sadness and grief feel worse; however, as each year passes the sadness will lessen until the sufferer no longer feels they must hold onto the past.
If someone is bereaved it is usual for them to encounter strong emotional feelings of distress and grief. If you are around someone suffering from bereavement it is important for you to understand that the sufferer must grieve in order to accept the death otherwise they will find it extremely difficult to move on from the situation and get on with their life.
There are a number of common phases a sufferer goes through during their grieving period, but everyone is different and therefore everyone has different ways of dealing with the loss. The most common reaction sufferers experience is feeling completely frozen which can last for quite a long time in some cases. A deep feeling of longing for the person then takes the place of the numb feeling which sometimes brings emotions such as anger, sadness and guilt with it.
As time passes, the emotional pain eases and the sufferer will feel a little bit better with every new day. However it is important to realize that the feelings of loss may never completely disappear.
Everybody reacts differently to situations and therefore the help required depends on the sufferer and the experience they have been through. Individuals that have adjusted poorly to the loss will more than likely find it harder to cope and may need to see a doctor who might prescribe treatment. It is common for sufferers of bereavement to see a counsellor or therapist. This type of help allows the sufferer to talk over their feelings with a professional who can guide them through their grief stages offering comfort and reassurance.
Depression Depression is a common condition that will affect one in three people at some time in their life. It is a complicated illness with many different symptoms and causes.
Changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns and overwhelming feelings of despair are often the first signs of depression.
Many sufferers become emotionally detached from those around them and withdraw into a world of their own. Some describe it like being in a prison with no windows or doors, which can alienate friends and relatives, increasing the isolation.
Changes in sleeping patterns; broken nights or over-sleeping
Changes in eating patterns: loss of appetite or overeating
Overwhelming feelings of guilt and worthlessness
Tiredness and loss of energy
Headaches, stomach upsets or chronic pain
Persistent thoughts of death or suicide
There is no one cause of depression - it is often an interaction of genetic factors, body chemistry and life events. It spans the spectrum of negative states from feeling low to severe or clinical depression.
Depression results in chemical imbalances in the neurotransmitters in the brain – whether this is the cause or result of the illness is less certain. Mid-life is the most common time for depression to strike, but it can affect all age groups.
For many people it follows some kind of loss; the death of a loved one, redundancy, divorce, illness or else it follows a period of stress. This is sometimes called reactive depression. Grief and sadness are natural responses to such loss but depression is an illness and has major differences which can be difficult to spot.
Others have a tendency to become depressed from time to time for no apparent reason. This is sometimes described as endogenous depression which appears to arise from changes, often hormonal, inside the person himself.
If a low mood has lasted for more than two weeks or is starting to interfere with your life it may be time to seek help. The shame that has been attached to mental illness often increases the distress and isolation of depression.
The earlier help is sought for depression the better - many of the symptoms are similar to other illnesses. Organisations and self-help groups can help with advice.
Counselling is effective in treating mild to moderate depression, and is often combined with medication in more severe cases, which is sometimes known as clinical depression.
Understanding depression and its triggers it can be helpful for sufferers trying to manage the condition. Talking to friends and family or specialist agencies can help. Counselling can help address low self-esteem, or relationship issues or persistent negative thinking.
Stress Stress is the wear and tear experienced as individuals adapt to a continually changing environment. Stress can be both positive and negative; as a positive influence, stress forces people into action and can boost energy and production, however as a negative influence, stress can lead to adverse physical symptoms and be detrimental to good health. Stress is caused by the body's innate reaction to defend itself, thus in an emergency stress will force us to exert maximum effort to protect ourselves. However when negative stress occurs, it's as if the body is prepared to face an emergency but no emergency happens; all the extra energy has nowhere to go, and the body is working overtime which leads to feelings of anxiety and worry. Negative stress can also lead to feelings of anger, distrust, depression and rejection, which may ultimately lead to headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, an upset stomach and heart disease.
Stressors at both work and in personal lives may lead to stress, and each individual will cope differently with these levels of stress. What is extremely stressful to one individual may be thrilling to another. Different occupations will also have higher stress levels than others, and stress is recognised to be one of the main causes of sick absence from work. Problems occur when individuals perceive themselves as unable to cope with the level of stress they face, and feel they are not capable to combat their stress. Changes in personal lives, such as the death of a loved one, a job promotion, a new relationship or the birth of a child will also cause stress as adjustments in our lives are needed to be able to cope. In these cases, stress may either hinder or help changes depending on how the individual reacts.
Thus the aim should never be to eliminate stress, but to learn how to manage it and how it can be used to help us. Stress can cause problems or make problems worse if ways of coping with it are not found.
Workplace Issues The anxiety created by both individuals and organisational demands on workers place a significant role in influencing the quality of employees’ work life. The rapid pace of life brought about by constant technological changes and development are a real source of stress. The impact of this on productivity and overall organisational performance should not be underestimated. This dynamic and stressful environment within which organisations operate call for organisations to be physically, mentally, and spiritually supportive of their employees.
Organisations are constantly facing changes and dilemmas which affect their employees. That can be unsettling and pose a real challenge. The role of workplace counselling is increasingly recognised as providing the essential support to help staff face these challenges and in turn support the organisation.