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Long Term counselling
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At some point in life most people struggle to cope with life’s demands. Sometimes it’s easy to ‘bounce back’ quickly; to regain a sense of control over the situation and easily work through your thoughts and feelings. If you’re lucky you might even have some help and support from the people around you. Sometimes though, the struggle can get tough and it’s not always easy or possible to ask someone you know for help and support.Are you struggling to cope with a stressful situation? Is your anxiety controlling you? Are you feeling ‘down’ but not sure why? Perhaps you have a sense of feeling different to everyone else and it’s holding you back? Whatever the reason and however it may be affecting you, talking to a professional counsellor may help.
What is Counselling?
Counselling is an opportunity for you to explore whatever it is you are struggling with at this moment in your life. This can be done by talking about about emotions and thoughts you may have not have been able to express before. Sometimes people find their feelings almost impossible to face, and counselling can help you to look at these in a safe, non-judgmental and confidential environment. Counselling can also be about helping you to discover who you are and what you want, so that you can begin to move away from what you don’t want – from what is no longer helpful in your life.
In working with you around this, I will offer ways of working together which will help you gain more understanding of why you have the feelings and thoughts that you do. Many people find that they have lots of people in their life telling them how and who they should be. Instead, you and I will work together to help you understand and develop your own solutions, insights and awareness into what is happening in your life. We will work together to do this in a private and confidential setting.
Counselling can often assist in the journey of self-discovery, and so, my job as a professional counsellor, is also to enable you to recognize what it is you need in order to grow and move towards your full potential. Very often life changes and transitions like: moving, changing jobs, stress, sexuality / coming-out, the beginning or ending of relationships, starting a family, mid-life crisis, bereavement or retirement can be very stressful, worrying, even depressing. Counselling may help you to work through these developmental stages in your life and grow towards a more satisfying future.
Why see a counsellor?
We all experience difficulties, painful events and losses at various stages in our life. When we find ourselves at a cross-roads or in crisis, the healthiest thing to do is spread the load by enlisting the support of others. But sometimes, either we don’t have other people we can call on or the nature of the issue is such that we want to keep it private and confidential. Talking to a professional counsellor very often brings great relief. You can expect to be listened to without being judged while being shown respect and empathy. Counselling is about having a safe place where you can explore and express your issues, concerns and fears. Frequently it involves discovering, accepting and growing to love the inner person within you.
Why have Counselling?
People come to counselling for lots of reasons. It may be that you have a general feeling that something isn’t right, but you’re not sure what it is. You might be having an overwhelming feeling that you have to ‘escape’, to run away from everything you’re experiencing, as if you just can’t get comfortable in your own skin. You might feel anxious or panicky at the thought of certain people or situations, but not understand why. You may feel a bit lost, and just want a clearer idea of what you do and don’t want from your life.
“Counselling and psychotherapy are umbrella terms that cover a range of talking therapies. They are delivered by trained practitioners who work with people over a short or long term to help them bring about effective change or enhance their well being” – BACP
What can counselling help with?
Counselling can be useful for anyone who wants to explore the way they’re thinking or feeling further, as well as anyone experiencing a problem or issue they are keen to resolve. People may choose to speak to a Counsellor because they feel they cannot speak to their other half - friends - family about such personal issues, or they may simply wish to speak to a professional with an objective viewpoint.
Common subjects that can be addressed within counselling include the following:
Anxiety often comes from fear. Fear is a natural and helpful response to protect us from danger. In the past, we had to protect ourselves from predators, and the fear response caused our bodies to produce adrenalin, raising our heartbeat and breathing in readiness to run away from danger. Nowadays we don’t have predators in the same way, but our fear instinct still exists, and can be triggered by people, situations, judgements from others (and ourselves), guilt, and anything we see as fearful. As we can’t rectify the situation by running away, we may internalise these feelings and suffer with anxiety. We can feel we are about to lose control, embarrass ourselves, pass out or even die. In counselling we can explore where these feelings are coming from, what other things they may be connected to, and work towards changing your responses and finding a more relaxed way of being.
Wherever there is a physical addiction to a substance or activity – there is likely to be a psychological addiction too. Counselling aims to relieve the psychological addiction by exploring the root cause while helping to develop new ways of thinking.
Loss and Grief
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Feelings of grief may come from the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including:
Divorce or relationship breakup
Loss of health (yours and/or loved ones)
Losing or changing your job
Loss of financial stability
Miscarriage or termination
Infertility – one can experience grief and mourn the baby you haven’t had
Death of a pet
Loss of a friendship
Loss of a feeling of safety after a trauma
Selling a home or moving to a different location
Going to, or leaving university or college
Talking to someone who has no direct connection to the situation that is causing your grief can help you to start to make sense of your feelings.
Being the victim of any form of abuse, whether it’s verbal or physical can lead to issues that may affect you all of your life. Counselling can offer victims the chance to seek help from authorities (if appropriate) as well as addressing the psychological repercussions in a safe environment.
Suffering from a long-term illness such as cancer or dementia can turn anyone’s world upside down. Counselling can help sufferers come to terms with their illness while offering emotional support and coping mechanisms.
You may feel you are unable to achieve the things you want to do. You may compare yourself to others and feel less important, less clever, not as good as them. You may have negative views on your looks, your body. Your internal dialogue may tell you negative things about yourself – you’re not worthy, you look bad, you’re too fat, too thin, stupid, boring etc. etc. Feelings like this often come from external sources – things you’ve been told or comments that have been made by significant people in your past. In counselling, through exploration of your past and present, it is possible to change the way you feel about yourself and find a more confident you.
Mental health issues
Suffering from a mental health issue such as schizophrenia or depression can feel incredibly isolating. Counselling looks to discuss the feelings that arise in conjunction with these kinds of mental health issues as well as overcome any personal challenges or frustrations.
Covering all types of relationships, counselling can be used to discuss issues within families, friendships and couples. Problems could involve anything from a poor relationship with a parent through to an abusive relationship. You may be having issues in your marriage or with your partner, or with family members, friends or colleagues. Relationships can be affected by so many factors. Job changes and redundancy, loss and grief, illness and disability, depression, having children, not having children, sexual issues, affairs, and misunderstandings in communication. Exploring yourself and what your triggers are, reassessing your boundaries and the way you listen and communicate, as well as gaining understanding of how others behave and communicate, can enable you to make changes and find new depths in your relationships.
Trauma encompasses a range of deeply distressing events where you have felt scared, overwhelmed, out of control, confused or unable to cope. You may be experiencing trauma from something that has happened in the past, or it may be something that is happening for you now. Causes of trauma can be harassment, violence, abandonment, rejection, sexual/verbal/physical abuse, bullying, witnessing of violence (particularly in childhood), car crash, discrimination, life-threatening medical conditions, having an alcohol or drug dependent parent, and many more. With sensitive counselling and looking at the events and experiences in a way that is tolerable, it is possible to reduce the rawness of these feelings and move towards living without feeling controlled by them.
Phobias root from our natural fear response. Our inbuilt safety net helps to protect us from danger. It aims to stop us jumping off a cliff or high building, to run away from what we perceive to be dangerous animals or threats. If we live near the top of a cliff or rock face, or in a block of flats, we need a level of fear to stop us falling or jumping off. If we live in a country where certain animals can seriously harm us, our fear of spiders, snakes, wolves or lions could save our life. If we live in a place where danger is right outside our front door (as we did thousands of years ago), we could be fearful of going out.
It is when a fear becomes more pronounced and gets in the way of our lives that it becomes a phobia. A phobia is described as an extreme, overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. It is also described as ‘irrational’, but phobias often come from what feels like a very rational experience (a bite from a dog, a sting from a wasp). However, they often come from another person’s experience which is transferred to us; ‘my mum/dad/sister/brother always screamed at spiders, so I do too’.
There are techniques for overcoming phobias which we can explore together.
The word stress describes a range of feelings. It often comes from being under too much mental or emotional pressure, causing you to feel unable to cope. Some people find a certain level of stress is helpful to motivate them. Some find it makes them feel overwhelmed, anxious, irritable, helpless or low in self-esteem. Physically you may suffer with headaches, sleep problems, muscle tension and more. If untreated, stress can trigger depression and serious illness. Some people try to cope by self-medicating with alcohol, smoking or drugs. Mental health issues including stress, anxiety and depression are the reason for one-in-five visits to a GP, and GPs often suggest counselling as a way to bring down stress levels.
Other areas of counselling I deal with
Spirituality involves experiences of a deeper sense of meaning and purpose, and a sense of belonging and a connection with the universe. Spirituality can help to achieve inner peace and happiness. It relates to the human spirit, and discovering the ‘true self’.
For some, spirituality does not relate to any kind of belief, but relates more to how they live their life, and their outlook on the world. It can be a path that will lead them towards a higher state of awareness of the self, and having a better way of life. Some see spirituality as a life source that flows. For others, spirituality helps them feel more connected to a higher being, God, or the universe, and connected to everything and everyone around them.
Issues around identity, and purpose of being.
Working with dreams and nightmares.