Is counselling right for me?

Is counselling right for me? Is the counsellor I’m considering asking for assistance too touchy feely, or too cold and distant for their own good? These are good questions and deserve considered answers. This article will attempt to do just that. In tackling this task however, I’m going to start with the second question first, and then work backwards.

Is the counsellor I’m considering too touchy feely, or too cold and distant for their own good? To be honest, they sometimes can be, though it is entirely dependent upon the particular practitioner in question and something you can only discover through an initial telephone conversation. I’ve been a professional psychotherapist now for over 25 years and during this time I’ve come across an extremely wide range of practitioners and approaches to counselling. Some of these I’ve agreed with wholeheartedly, while others made me cringe – and still do when I think of them even now!

Stereotypes of counsellors/psychotherapists see two extremes. On the one side is the psychoanalytic therapist who sits silently in their chair waiting for their client to say something. These therapists are portrayed as cold and judging cardboard cut-outs who make the client “do all the work”. Clients themselves bear all the burden during any given session as to what to talk about and how to talk about it, often receiving little in the way of feedback from the therapist other than a gentle nod or shake of the head and are left wondering what the heck just went on there (and what they paid for) during that 50 minute hour!

The other stereotype extreme is what are known as “the tea and sympathy brigade”. These therapists are most often characterised as middle-aged women wearing twin sets and pearls who sit leaning forward with their heads tilted ever so slightly to one side uttering an occasional “That’s terrible….”, or “Oh my….”.

It has been my experience that there certainly are some ideal clients for both of these stereotypes, but not many. In fact, it is these stereotypes that are causing most people to ask themselves whether or not counselling is right for them in the first place. So if, dear reader, you’re sitting there reading this article with either one of the two stereotypes outlined above in your mind, I don’t blame you for asking if counselling is right for you. To answer that question directly, in as much as it relates to working with therapists who fit either of these two stereotypes as described: No, counselling – of those types – may well not be right for you – luckily however there are other types of therapists available.

Today’s counselling client deserves much more from a therapist than what the two stereotypes described above have to offer. Today’s counselling client is far more sophisticated than those of 20 years ago, and need modern day solutions for modern day difficulties. People quite simply have exposure to far more of the world than ever before, and the difficulties we face today don’t often fit into the psychological boxes of the past. Fully aware of this, in my Bishops Stortford counselling practice I work hard to ensure that I do not just sit there silently, leaving those I’m working with to wonder if I think they are crazy or wrong. At the same time, no matter what experience or life situation I’m being told about, I think you deserve more than a cucumber sandwich, a cup of tea and a gentle “There there now…..”.

In order to ensure that counselling is truly right for you, it is first important to know that whichever counsellor you are considering working with is able and willing to work to understand what it is that you’re looking for. Are you seeking a person to bounce ideas about various life decisions off? Are you looking to unload and dump whatever it might be in a safe place without any sort of judgment, but not necessarily wanting to do anything about it either? Do you have a practical life problem that you are struggling to find an answer for because there are simply too many elements to it running around your head that it is impossible to sift through them? Are you empty, aching and don’t know why but want desperately to feel differently? Whatever your goal in counselling, the most important thing to know in order to answer the question: “Is counselling right for me?” is whether you are sitting with a counsellor who is experienced, trained and flexible enough to understand what you need and is able to provide that for you.

If you are considering attending counselling anywhere near the Bishops Stortford area, I would very much welcome an opportunity to help you answer the question: “Is counselling right for me?” I am always willing to speak with any individual seeking counselling and explain in detail how we would work together to clearly identity your personal needs from counselling, and then work with you to put together a plan for achieving that. In these efforts I offer neither tea nor sympathy, nor will I sit silently and “work you out”. Helping you achieve your goals through counselling is a team effort, and that team effort begins from our very first conversation.

If you would like more information and help determining whether counselling is right for you, please feel free to contact me on 01279 834 467 for a no obligation discussion of your needs.