For many of us, the idea of psychotherapy or counseling can be a frightening prospect. There is a misconception that therapy is only for those who have “serious issues.” I beg to differ. Yes, those of us who are living with depression, anxiety, or the long term effects of trauma would definitely benefit from good therapy. But all of us could find a course of therapy or counselling really worthwhile and a fantastic investment of our time and money. We might just need to rethink how it could be beneficial.
My official title is Psychotherapist. But I also call myself a counsellor and a coach. Is there a difference?
For many therapists, we use “psychotherapist” and “counsellor” as synonyms. It is a matter of semantics, and there are no hard and fast rules about the differences. I tend to gauge from my client, which of those terms he or she feels more comfortable, and then that is what we use. Coaching, on the other hand, tends to have a very specific focus. It is often more about helping someone find a way forward. With psychotherapy, there are times when we have to look back in order to understand the present so that we can look ahead.
For some, the idea of “psychotherapy” is frightening. It says mental illness and mental health issues that need to be resolved. Also, it suggests a lengthy, emotionally painful process. And certain therapy styles do spend a lot of time looking back and working through the past in minute details.
For some, this is a helpful experience. It also takes a huge commitment both in terms of time and money. But some schools of therapy believe it does not need to be a lengthy and emotionally draining experience. I am a short-term, solution-focused therapist, and I see many clients living with depression or the impact of terrible traumas. But the style of psychotherapy I use aims to resolve these as quickly and as with as little emotional pain as possible.
But many others make contact and come along to see me who are living healthy and, mostly, fulfilling lives. Why have they asked to see me? And then this is where the coach in me might make an appearance.
We all have moments when life throws us a problem or difficulty that unsettles us. The last six months have been difficult for all of us. Suddenly families have been confined to a house 24 hours a day. Both parents are trying to work from home, educate the kids, and entertain them as well. It has caused major stress for many. For some, we have been able to roll with it muddle our way through it. But some have needed a helping hand. This does not mean that they are mentally ill. It simply means that life has thrown a curveball and they were not quite ready for it. And that is hardly surprising.
Now that life is returning to something a little more normal, many have been able to return to equilibrium quite easily and with no noticeable impact on themselves or those close to them.
However, sometimes we might need a bit of a helping hand to get back on track. And this is where I can help. I have seen a steady rise in the number of people needing a tweak or some guidance to get through a particular moment in their lives.
One of the biggest areas where I have helped adults is when it comes to the issue of work-life balance. Many of us work very long hours, and we lose sight of our family or our general physical and emotional well-being. A few small tweaks in lifestyle can make a massive difference. But sometimes, someone else needs to open these opportunities or possibilities if we are blind to them. Someone objective. Someone who has your interests at heart. And that is where a counsellor could be really useful.
So if you decide that you want to explore whether some counselling, therapy, or coaching would be beneficial, here are some guidelines:
- Do your homework. Research the different styles of therapy. And then see what you can find out about the therapists you find.
- Be prepared for the possibility that you might not click with the first therapist you find. It is a very personal relationship, and you do need to feel that you have a fit. A good therapist will understand if you choose to terminate the relationship.
- Check that your therapist is credible. Do they belong to a recognised body that is regulated? Have they got recognised qualifications behind their name?
- Make sure you know what you want to get out of the process. Have a clear goal in mind. Set yourself a target.
- But most of all, set out to find the experience ultimately rewarding, enriching, and interesting.
A good counsellor can teach you new coping skills and mechanisms that you can then employ on your own. A good therapist or coach will aim to make you independent and self-reliant. My mantra for myself is: make yourself redundant as quickly as possible.