Your views – It’s good to talk but what do you (really) think about counselling?

Have you ever thought about counselling? A lot of people see it as a last resort for recovery, and I can understand why.

In the current economic climate, clients have to wait weeks, if not months, for free therapeutic support on the NHS.

Some people worry they’re wasting a professional’s time with their problems, because they’re repeatedly (and unhelpfully) told by the ‘well-meaning’ – “there’s always someone else worse off”.

If a person does reach out for help, and the appointments finally come round, the clock’s ticking under the instant stress to ‘feel better’ before the small number of sessions you’re “allowed” run out.

Most NHS, and even some charity, services are commissioned (in what seems to be a funding postcode lottery) to deliver ‘outcomes’ – which is why I think RubyEtc described it as having to be the ‘right amount of ‘mad’ to receive therapeutic intervention.

She suggests that if you’re not ‘mad enough’ it’s decided you don’t need help, and if you’re ‘too mad’ you don’t qualify. You might be offered a few phone calls to be “assessed” (which anyone with depression or anxiety will tell you is a stress in itself), but if you’re not making swift enough progress (or at least you’re not hitting the ‘outcomes’) you could be asked to find somewhere else to seek help.

So, no pressure then.

The irony is that if people were seen early enough they might not reach that critical point of being in crisis.

There’s still a stigma associated in acknowledging poor mental health – especially if you have a social circle that doesn’t ‘get’ anxiety, or an employer who says that you and your depression should “just pull your socks up”.

Then there’s private therapy, which costs money, and finding the ‘right’ counsellor can take time.

But is it worth it?

The benefits of counselling are believed to outweigh the financial cost. Talking therapy can:

  • Provide a safe space to explore feelings, in confidence
  • Help develop healthier coping strategies
  • Identify unhelpful thinking patterns
  • Manage stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improve your relationships with others and yourself
  • Build your confidence, assertiveness and self-esteem

Counsellors are usually qualified professionals, who have received several years training in therapeutic techniques. They also receive ongoing continual professional development (CPD), to make sure they stay up to date with ‘best practice’ and are usually registered with a professional body. Therapists have different ways of working but they should all work with the clients best interests at heart.

As a registered, qualified counsellor, I also receive ‘supervision’ – an opportunity to meet regularly with another qualified therapist to discuss anonymously, and confidentially, the work I’m doing. Counsellors are also encouraged to receive their own personal therapy several times during their career, to ensure they remain useful to the clients they serve.

It’s an option to consider because, as Maureen Lipman used to say, it’s good to talk.

What do you think about counselling? Leave your comments below or complete this survey.

Copyright Delphi Ellis

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