The limits of Counselling

I wanted to talk about my experiences with counselling.  Having undergone several rounds I have found it to be some help.  But in all honesty I think it's only really effective after an event such as loss and bereavement.  I think for anyone struggling with a lot of problems, it's far too limited, especially via the NHS when time is limited.  I never really got everything I wanted off my chest and we never got to the core root of my problem, which I now know was an unwarranted lack of self-esteem and confidence.  Allowing things to happen in my life that had no place in it.

The issue for me in counselling is that the counsellor only comes into your life when you're at a low point.  They have never seen you at your best or seen what you're capable of.  So all they're seeing is a maybe broken person at their lowest ebb.  I feel you need to go a lot further, perhaps via a psychiatrist, to delve into the real cause of your life's failings.  Most people have a point where they can remember being confident, believing in themselves etc and it is trying to recall that time and be that person again.  I truly think that the encouragement and intervention at early stages in depression from those close to you is massively helpful.  Negativity and defeating behaviour creeps on you before you know it and then your thoughts change.  It's very hard to bring them back.  It is hard for people around you sometimes to be honest, they don't want to embarrass you or themselves but I really feel that there comes a point where this needs to be done.  Of course it helps if they can be a role model to you and have things worked out in their own life. 

thought I'd share, anyone have any thoughts?


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15 Replies

  • I think many people don't go to counselors until they are at rock bottom. Many therapists only tell you what you want to hear so that you'll come back.  I agree with you when you say that loved ones need to intervene during the early stages.

  • What happens when loved ones are part of the problem?  Or you don't have anyone in your life who cares? 

  • That's very tough, is there not anyone such as a friend who is there for you?

  • No

  • It's common to come across people who don't understand mental illnesses, but I'm sure there are people who love you. They may not show it, but they love you deep deep down. Anyway, you're welcome to talk here anytime as you already know.

  • That's very kind of you

  • CBT is given to help you understand your problems and give you the tools to handle your condition.

    With me after many years it made me understand my problems and help me make complex decisions and actions to control my life. My life changes have been very dramatic and I was lucky I had the reserves and strength to do some very far reaching actions. I understand that many patients do not need to go to the deep depths I had to go. I still suffer depression the difference now is I have been able to facilitate change.

    I was also lucky to have a good CPN and a Wife who stuck by me as I made these changes that affected her as well.

    Nothing is easy when it comes to depression. I hope you find ways to lift your mood and situation, if that is needed


  • I do.  I think the CBT was a good aid but I think I'd sort of lost control of my life a bit by then.  I do find ways to carry on and keep going.  It just has taken a long drawn out process to get me to this stage and I feel that a lot of my progress has been made by just figuring out where this all started, and why

  • Be kind and try to be confident that the pathway you decide is the right one.

    If you feel you are unable to make any far reaching decisions try this

    Itemize each problem into separate boxes, consider one problem first then try and cut that problem into little bits that can be taken at easy stages, go for the easy worries first. When you can sort out that little bite try the next bet of that same problem and keep going until that problem is sorted, if you get stuck try your next concern that is also in little peaces and follow the same way as first and follow the same plan

    You will be left with a list of firm problems that need sorting again look at this little bites and approach those main problems, you will find eventually you will have that confidence to take each one on and sort it.

    It may take time and sometimes our problems can be very persistent to get rid of, just every so often take a concern and try and reach a conclusion. It does work, although the system does sound strange.

    Remember be kind to yourself as you try to make these changes and every time one is sorted give yourself a nice reward.

    With me it took several years and a further severe crisis before I was able to sort my life out. Remember do not give your brain to much to deal with at one time, little bites of a problem are easier to fix and conclude


  • Hello Warren

    If you have worked out what is the cause of your illness you are a good 50% down the road to sorting it

    Good luck, as you plan your new situation. I had to be brave persistent and strong willed.


  • Counselling is just one tool to help you tackle problems.

    It is no magic cure all. The good point is you know you are not being judged and you must remember there is no right or wrong answers. Just what is right...or wrong for you.

    They are used to help you have a look at what problems you have.

    You can use counselling to help you delve around and find your own answers.

    Like you say they dont know the happy you and can only guess of your capabilities.

    They are there to give an objective non judging opinion......but mainly to help you help yourself.

    They may show you ways of coping but it is you that has to decide what works for you.....only you know yourself best.

    Hope this helps


  • Hi. I feel like with a counselor you have to have some sort of game plan. If you don't, then it's just talking and nothing changes. And also have smart goals so that you can track your progress and see how you're improving. In my experience, the therapist won't help you at all if you don't know what you want to do.

  • this is true you have to lead it a lot

  • There are a lot of interesting points you make there and some that I can relate to, namely bereavement. I tried NHS route but felt it was lacking so I took the private route. there the counsellor helped with my issues and provided CBT along the way. Later I went to a CBT specialist, as my counselling therapist had moved. 

    My view is that counselling does help but on the basis you are open and honest about yourself, the events that have happened so that they can make an accurate assessment and able to provide you with the right support you need. if you don't then you are only hindering yourself. Also, it is down to us to implement what they say we need to do in order to get better, as they cannot physically be there to help us. 

    During depression willpower takes a huge hit and building that up, so that we can get back on our feet, takes a lot of time and patience. it may even test us to point that is it really possible. those who have are living proof that it is possible and eventually tell depression to give up trying. If we can build this then maybe only then what the therapist say, can be done by us.

    There is an element of fear that adds petrol to the fire, called stress, if it turns chronic then that could trigger depression. that fear comes from our past memories of situations we have been in that we are reluctant to be in or feel that we are in at the moment and practising to tame the impact of those memories from my experience, is difficult. this could take anywhere between 3 to 5 years and mentor yourself to change your reaction and how to be confident in situations. Counselling can initially help here how to go about it but its up to us to find a way that suits us and practise it so again, it points to my view on building your willpower.

  • lots of good comments all. Thanks