Does counselling really help?

I've just started going to a counsellor (my first session friday just gone). Although I felt better getting things off my chest (after about 10 tearful moments), I still came out wondering what the counsellor can do to actually make me feel better. She didn't say much, and everything she did say was pretty much repeated, eg "I think the underlying anxiety is down to your ex partner". I already know that. What I don't know though, is what I can do to get rid of such horrific feelings.

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  • I know exactly what you mean hun!

    I give myself the answers at the end of my sessions lol, I keep going because it gives me an excuse to get out of work for couple of hours! no not really it has actually helped after getting all off my chest it all kind of slots into place as to why I behave the way I do sometimes. She did say once that the memory is like a wardrobe packed up with boxes of files that sometimes crumble into a heap and it's good to try to sort them out and stack them back up neatly again which should help in recovery! If that makes any sense? It kinda did for me and I'm still having a good rummage through sort out!

    Stick with it if you can, it was your first session but as you dig deeper she should be able to help you understand a lot more

    All the best please keep us posted on how all goes!!

  • I had counseling in 1995/6 and my health anxiety certainly faded away but sadly it came back with a bang in 2008! So I had ten years relatively free of anxiety.

    So does it work - I don't really know.

    My councilor certainly gave me some helpful advice and an understanding of why I get like I do.

  • Hi kjm1987. Yes, you see it is like the man lying in hospital and having broken arms and legs after being run over by a bus. And they say "Of course, this is all due to you being run over by a bus!!!" THE MAN NEEEDS HEALING not stating the obvious. I had a fantastic counsellor to whom I went for close on two years. A very wise old man who, unfortunately, is no longer with us. I said to him one day. "Why is it that everyone seems so happy and I am so miserable?". He laughed. "But, my boy, it's chaos out there". It took time for me to realise how right he was.

    Counselling can be very, very helpful but it has to be the right Counsellor for you. If you do not feel happy with them or have no confidence in them then get out quickly. There are a lot of good Councillors about, find one that suits you. Hope all goes well with future sessions. jonathan.

  • Hi

    So sorry you had a bad session. They can make things worse rather than better. I know that some people find marvelous counsellors who help them very much. I think it really depends on the counsellor and on the type of issues you have.

    Personally I've seen several counsellors over the years and unfortunately they all made me feel FAR worse than before seeing them. The point about counselling is 'reflection' as you've observed - their role is to listen and to repeat back what you say - they are a 'listening ear' and this in itself is supposed to help you - it does help some people.

    However, just like yourself, I needed guidance, suggestions and advice - that is NOT the role of a counsellor though - they have told me this themselves. They are not there to do that for you. So as far as I was concerned it was pointless.

    It's extremely hard trying to find a 'professional' who will do what we need, which is to give us some pointers, help, support, guidance and advice based on their experience - very few are prepared to do that, because they don't want to get into trouble if they lead you wrong (that is what they have told me).

    The greatest professional I've encountered was a community psyche nurse who was assigned to me for a while - she was a real person who treated me like a real person and we had real conversations that helped me SO much. Sadly I've never met anyone remotely like her again, but psyche nurses are usually the best help for people like us.

    BEST OF LUCK

  • Do you know what type of counsellor you are seeing, ie - which therapeutic approach they use? Feel free to ask them if they haven't already told you. There are so many types - CBT, psychodynamic, person-centred, etc. Sounds like this person may be person-centred, as they do tend to reflect back to you what you have just said to them. Don't forget that during the first session the counsellor is trying to get a general picture of who you are, what you are like, how you explain things, and what your issues are. If ever you feel at all frustrated with the way the counselling is progressing, even if it sounds like criticism of the therapist's approach to you, DO feel free to speak up. They are interested to know that, and won't want you to be adding to your anxiety by keeping bottled up your feelings about the therapy itself. I have had CBT, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, and Person Centred counselling, over a 15 year period. The latter is the best approach for me and helped me a lot more than the others. For me, Psychodynamic work was depressing and confusing and left me depressed. I hope you continue with yours to see if it will help, you will know after a few more sessions if any answers to your problems emerge.

  • Hi KJM,

    I have had CBT for my anxiety, and found it to be useful. I learnt a number of techniques I can use to help me get through the difficult times, and helped me understand some of the underlying issues which have led to my anxiety.

    Person centered therapy would not of been for me, and may not be for you either. I would talk to my counselor about this, and see where to go from there.

  • Hi, thanks for all the feedback. I think my counsellor is person-centred going by what you've described it as. I think CBT would be more useful, what is it they do exactly? I know they look into your behaviour but do they give you advice and techniques? I've honestly felt a bit better today. I find that if I keep busy and keep my mind occupied I'm fine. The tablets I take normally make me extremely tired but today I think I've managed to get through the whole day without feeling like I need a nap!! One things for sure, if I've got in my head that somethings not going to help my anxiety, then it won't. I know I have to stay positive, but thats easier said than done ! xx

  • I really benefited from my course of CBT. It really helped me figure out what was making me anxious and what to do about it. I got worse for the first few sessions, where I was barely leaving the house! But now I can sit in a pub and not want to run for the door :D I think that it just depends on what you want to get out of it. You won't be cured but it can help you notice what makes you anxious and how to get through it. My counsellor was wonderful and sent me through loads of worksheets to go through and little tasks to complete in the week. The sessions themselves were based on how I was doing in the week and what I had done to combat my anxiety.

    I'm still a work in progress but my housemates and friends have all commented on my new found confidence. I still have down days, as I'm sure we all do, but I realised that no one goes into ever situation anxiety-free. I would really recommend it.

  • My opinion on this is... counselling can help with anxiety if it looks at the whole person, not just at the presenting symptoms. Going over and over someones traumas and panicky thoughts is widely thought to be a bit irresponsible in today's counselling world. Anyone who spends hours contemplating something that makes them feel uneasy is putting a bit too much emphasis on it. Life is composed of dark and light. Sometimes I think a person needs light to understand the darkness. Not to sit for hours contemplating the darkness. Does that make sense?

    But if a counsellor supports a client as they take a bit of distance and over-haul their life (their social skills, finances, future dreams, support network, career orientation, past hurts, their body image, their thoughts, their emotional needs, their eating pattern, their exercise programme, how they stand, breathe...) they can create lasting change in a really holistic (and gentle but powerful) way.

    Whatever a counsellor says and does though, change is always down to the client. A counsellor is only there to facilitate a process but that in itself is a job noone else performs in society and and therefore it's a really useful function in society.

    I am a counsellor and I say that because if I don't it will just look like a really biased opinion, which it is, but then I wouldn't have gone through all those years of training if I didn't believe this myself. So this is my way of saying I genuinely believe what I'm saying here.

  • I personally don't think counselling is very helpful for anxiety, although I know plenty of people who would disagree with me. CBT (if you google it there's a good NHS page that gives an overview of how it works) is much more structured and helps you to manage the thoughts and feelings so that you actually have a set of skills to go back to when you're struggling. It isn't a cure all and I think most people don't get enough sessions (usually 12-15 on the NHS) but it can definitely help you feel more in control. There are a few good books on amazon - Overcoming Worry, Overcoming Anxiety, Overcoming Low Self Esteem are all written by UK based CBT therapists and might be a good place to start. Good luck with it.

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