Honestly, I have so much to say about mental health and counselling so a Q&A felt like a good place to start. I hope you’re ready for a hefty old read! We all have mental health and reflecting on my experience I don’t think there’s anything more important than taking care of it. I really wanted to write this and share how I felt having talking therapy and what it’s really like. I asked on Instagram what would be useful for me to cover so I’m going to work my way through the Q’s and try not to waffle too much!
One quick thing, this is going to be a positive post. I’m still working on my mental health, and something I didn’t really think about is how much work I would have to put in after having therapy, but, it’s really changing my life for the better and it’s been amazing to find what actually brings me joy in life!
On to the questions…
How did you know you needed therapy?
I experienced some pretty negative things throughout my childhood, and I feel like now at a place where I’m the most stable I’ve ever been I’m finally processing everything. Before this year I had never lived alone and was constantly busy, I’m an extravert so I would just surround myself with other people and never have a moment to reflect. Unconsciously it’s always been there and it’s impacted me in different ways over the years, but it got to a point where it became hard to live with and be happy. I personally don’t think there’s a threshold for needing or wanting therapy, whether you’ve experienced direct trauma that you can pin point or feel like you want to understand your emotions/ feelings more, it’s something I think everyone could benefit from with the right kind of therapy and therapist to suit them.
Similar to the previous question, but for me it was over a month of having really negative thoughts, both from the past and thinking about things that could happen in the future. I noticed it really started to impact my mood, relationships with people around me and I honestly just felt like I couldn’t control it or see the good in anything (which is the complete opposite of how I usually am). To put it simply I just felt low and I really wanted to change that.
How do you have the initial conversation with a GP?
Back in February I decided to try and get help through the NHS, I had a good week and then decided that I didn’t actually need it anymore. A few weeks later I realised I really did want to see someone, so I just decided to go private to get the ball rolling quicker and I found someone local to me through the Counselling Directory. I think you just have to be as open and honest as you possibly can, the GP should guide you with questions and I would just say be honest as you would with any other physical reason to go to the doctors. When it came to contacting a therapist I just outlined how I was feeling to give them a clearer understanding of whether they thought they could help me or not. There was an initial session/ consultation before therapy properly started that was also used to access whether the therapist thought she could help.
This probably sounds obvious but it was purely from the fact I was able to speak openly and honestly to her. I think you just know. Probably should mention I’m quite an open person as it is (as you can probably tell), but I felt quite safe speaking to her about things and she just made me feel like there was no judgement and just compassion for my situation. It was really valuable to have someone who just listened but then asked questions that really helped me unpack everything and how I had been feeling.
I decided to opt for talking therapy, specifically the person-centred approach. I had actually had the same therapy when I was 16 so I knew it worked for me. The therapist I saw had experience delivering mindfulness, CBT and a couple of other methods but actually suggested we used the person-centred approach so I was happy to go with that. The type of counselling method always depends on why you want counselling in the first place.
I just did a quick google search and found the Counselling Directory. A lot of the therapists on there have a photo which definitely helps pick out someone who you think may be a good match. Something I also considered was price, going to a therapist once a week can get costly so I wanted to make sure it was something I could definitely commit to.
I hope this has been helpful for anyone that’s considering seeing a counsellor. I actually only ended up having three sessions and since I finished around a month ago life has been pretty good. Not every day or moment is easy, but I’m finding it so much easier to identify when I’m not feeling great and how I could potentially change that.
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