Some thoughts on how counselling helps

Welcome, I thought I would take the opportunity in this first blog to explore my thoughts about counselling. Over the coming weeks I will share what I have found to be useful and interesting in terms of podcasts, blogs, videos or books on the topic of well-being and self-awareness.  Alongside my counselling training I practise and have studied Mindfulness and often come across little gems which speak to me and bring me joy, comfort or understanding on some level. So, this is a collection of thoughts, images, activities, quotes, poems and even books. A few are mine; most are from others, you may or may not find them helpful. I invite you to read, take what speaks to you and leave the rest behind. I have gained so much from others who have shared freely.

Why Counselling?

I want to start by sharing some of my thoughts about Counselling, I have collected these over the last ten years that I have been worked as a Counsellor. One is a famous quote by M Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Travelled which says,

 “Life is difficult…once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters”.

I read that such a long time ago and at the time really didn’t get it.  It is so simple, yet not easy to do. Many of us find life difficult and this gets compounded by a sense that life is not supposed to be difficult. I am not sure where I got that message, but it was familiar, maybe you have the same one. Many of us don’t grow up being taught the skills or even self-understanding to know what to do when life throws us a curve ball or becomes difficult. So many things are challenging, and not just the big things, like someone dying or losing your job, but smaller things like feeling frustrated with how your life is, having difficulties in friendships or life not being how we think it should be. Some phases in our life can be a collection of small frustrations that leave us blindsided and not knowing what to do. These times when life gets difficult, and we don’t want to accept it or know how to get through it is when we look to counselling. As we struggle we often get trapped into comparison, we look through social media or look around and everyone else seems to have life sorted.  The feeling we can be left with is that somehow we were missing when that lesson was taught, or that we don’t understand how to move forward. We can feel stuck or lost or confused.  Counselling can help us find a solution or a way forward, not any solution but the one that is right for us, because it is not a one size fits all process. Sadly, it is not a case of do this, practise that and the difficulties will go away. There will be difficulties and we can learn and understand what we need and how to be compassionate with ourselves. We can learn this through the process of counselling. Another quote I love is:

“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines”

Robert H Schuller

I like the alternative story that it gives around problems, so that we can have a different mindset around how we view ourselves for having problems. Counselling is time for you to be heard, understood, supported, to have space to reflect and pause. A time to process and figure things out; to cultivate that different mindset.

What is Counselling and how does it help?

There are different ways to access counselling and the different styles can be confusing and overwhelming. Counselling is a relationship between two people where one person is skilled and trained to listen in a particular way. It can be the traditional talking where you both sit in chairs and talk about whatever you want. It can be body therapy which can be more active or walking therapy or other therapies. What matters most, and all the research highlights this, is that you feel comfortable with the person you are with. There are a lot of options out there, so take time to explore and find out more. If you can find a counsellor you can trust, you will start to feel safe enough to be open and vulnerable with them. It can take time to find the right person and I see counselling as a process that is not instant and immediate, more one that is evolving, growing and transforming.

It helps by:

  • Developing more self-understanding which allows you to recognise your thoughts and patterns of behaviour. Knowing this gives you the opportunity to wonder if they work for you and if you would like to change.
  • Developing more self-confidence, so decision making becomes easier.
  • Developing self-compassion so we notice how critical we are towards ourselves and learn how to quieten our negative self-talk, or at the very least offer an alternative. It can be very liberating to be in the presence of someone who models compassion, as we learn to offer it to ourselves.
  • Working through uncomfortable feelings or a sense of being lost or stuck.
  • Finding more effective ways of dealing with the difficulties that life throws up.
  • Developing skills and practises that support you and your wellbeing.
  • It can also help with perspective and helping you find joy and pleasure again.

Choosing a Counsellor

When it comes to finding a counsellor to work with, there are a few questions you can ask yourself when you contact someone.

  • Do I feel heard?
  • Do I feel understood?
  • Do I feel able to say anything without feeling judged?
  • Do I feel able to be myself?
  • Do I feel comfortable?

These are just some of my own thoughts about counselling which I hope are helpful. Therapy or counselling is a very personal experience, one which can be lifechanging if you connect with the person you are working with. One thing I have come to understand over time, is that life is not a self -improvement programme, you are not wrong or broken. Counselling is not about perfection; it is about wholeness and embracing ourselves as we are. Life is about experiencing it in all its joys and sorrows, and we all benefit from connection with another person, a connection you can find through counselling. As Brene Brown says:

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued”

I will leave you with that thought …

Brigid Errington

Brigid Errington

Brigid Errington is an experienced BACP accredited counsellor providing online and in person therapy to adults and young people over the age of 13. She is currently working at Holt Consulting Rooms