What is counselling and how can it help me?
What are counselling and psychotherapy?
Counselling and psychotherapy are talking therapies which can help people work through difficult moments in their life. Counselling is often interpreted to mean short-term therapy (4, 6 or 12 sessions, for example), while psychotherapy is often interpreted as being more medium- or long-term. Both aim to help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your life, and your relationships with others.
Essentially, in a typical counselling session with me, you will mostly do the talking and I'll mostly listen - asking some questions, maybe checking that I've understood exactly what you mean, and prompting you to explore more fully how whatever it is that you're talking about impacts you. Sometimes I'll talk a bit more, and sometimes hardly at all - this is your time to really do the talking, and explore the feelings.
That might sound a bit woolly, and a bit vague. 'Ah, but what do you actually do, Caro? How do you make me feel better?' And the answer is that the healing is in the therapy, and the therapy is about being heard - by me, by others if you choose to talk to them, and by your self. Sometimes we will talk about actions - plans, strategies, things that might be beneficial to read or try. And sometimes we might do an exercise together, an imaginary conversation or a role play, for example. But mostly we - and by we, I mean you - will talk.
What issues can talking therapy help?
Talking therapy can help with many conditions and situations. I've worked with clients who have come wanting to explore issues including anger, anxiety, bereavement, compulsive behaviours, depression, identity, loneliness, long-term health conditions, powerlessness, and relationships, or who simply recognise that they perhaps don't feel quite themselves and want to understand what is going on.
Some of my clients have come to see me because of a life-changing event - the death of a parent, or the start of a new relationship, perhaps - and then realised that what was really bothering them was something else - memories of being bullied at school, or fears about trusting someone again, or a sense of having lost who they are.
Who can talking therapy help?
You don't have to be a particular type of person to benefit from therapy. I have worked with clients aged from 16 to over 80; male, female and non-binary; straight, gay, bi, asexual and polysexual; from many ethnicities, cultures and religions; and with a range of visible and invisible disabilities.
What benefits can I expect?
People experience the benefits of counselling differently. For some, feeling more like themself again is what they are aiming for. For others, gaining a better understanding about themself, or their relationships with others, or about a particular period in their lives is what they are aiming for. There is no universal experience of counselling and psychotherapy, and different people seek different things from it at different times of their life.