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 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. Having said that, it’s really changing my life for the better, it’s been amazing to find what actually brings me joy in life! Anyway, onto the questions, a bit about talking therapy and my experience of what actually happens…
What is talking therapy?
There’s different types of therapy, and even still, different types of talking therapy… As a collective, talking therapy is where you speak to a trained mental health professional about your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It gives you a safe space to be heard without judgement, understand yourself better, resolve and recognise previous behaviour, thoughts or feelings and overall gain better mental health.
Talking therapy can help with so many different things. There’s a misconception that you have to have a diagnosed mental health issue to seek help, but you absolutely don’t. Therapy is for anyone who wants to have it.
A quick disclaimer, because I’m no expert! I do have a degree in Psychology, but alongside this, some of the information on talking therapy has been taken from Mind.
How did you know you needed therapy?
It’s hard to explain, but you just know. I studied Psychology for my degree, so I knew about mental health and how beneficial counselling can be. I also experienced some pretty negative things throughout my childhood that I wanted to speak about.
I was at a place where I felt the most stable I’ve ever been, but with that came the time to finally process everything.
Unconsciously the things I experienced growing up were always there, unresolved and bubbling away. 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. Therapy is something I think everyone could benefit from with the right kind of therapy and therapist to suit them.
What was the trigger point to go to therapy?
I just felt low and I really wanted to change that. I was continually experiencing 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 just felt like I couldn’t see the good in anything (which is the complete opposite of how I usually am).
How do you have the initial conversation with a GP?
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.
I hate that mental health care isn’t something everyone can have access to straight away, or the amount of sessions they need. I know how privileged I am to be able to afford private therapy.
How did you know you had met the right counsellor for you?
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.
What kind of counselling is it?
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.
How did you know where to find someone?
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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