Mental Health – Can a counsellor help me?

Many people struggle with their mental health and they wonder can a counsellor help me. Often the advice given is to see a counsellor or therapist. Yet, if you have never been to therapy it can be a daunting prospect to go and talk to a stranger when you are at your most vulnerable.  Can counselling improve your mental health?

Counselling help meIt is useful to understand that mental health is a blanket term for a wide range of conditions and while we know that talking therapies are effective, some conditions require more appropriate specialist treatment. However, if you are seeing a professional counsellor (such as accredited by BACP, BPS or BABCP) then they will only take you on if they can treat you.

What do counsellors do?

Counsellors are there to help you to change and to cope with the problems and difficulties that you feel you face. It’s important to notice that counsellors won’t tell you what to do or tell you that you are right or wrong. Their role is to empower you not to control your life. Expect your counsellor to prompt your thought process and help you explore your feelings and thoughts. By exploring your feelings and behaviours together you should bring about the therapeutic change that you hope for.

Counselling has many different forms, fortunately you don’t need to understand the theory to get the benefit, many people will have heard of CBT. There are other well established therapies like gestalt, psychodynamic and humanistic counselling. All show a therapeutic benefit to clients. They effectively treat a wide range of conditions such as anxiety/depression, bereavement, work problems, bullying, health issues and many more.

What should I expect?

When you go to a counselling session for the first time you may feel anxious. Yet the counsellor will help you to feel comfortable. They will explain practical issues like time and appointment arrangements. The therapist will talk about your confidentiality. The counsellor may outline the approach that they use in their counselling. Good counsellors will have your best interests at the forefront of any treatment that they offer. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you are able to choose, so if there is something you need to know, ask. If you don’t feel comfortable it’s okay to leave.

In the counselling session it is important to realise that you will be facing up to problems and difficult feelings. You may become emotional and upset. It’s important to notice that this is a normal part of the process as you are talking about difficult and distressing moments in your life. Your counsellor is trying to help you notice how you can change and cope with those feelings. Yet, the reality is that the process can make you emotional both in the moment and afterwards.

Counselling offers a safe space away from the issues in which to talk about them. The counsellor trained in the underlying theory, is able to offer an empathic environment free of judgment. They offer an impartial space in which to uncover the causes and triggers of your emotional distress. Together you and your counsellor uncover effective ways to cope and manage it.