What is Counselling
The main aim of counselling is to help you work through various issues so that you can cope with your problems better. The counsellor's aim is to help you find your own solutions and to offer you emotional support as you do this. Sometimes it involves accepting situations you cannot change and coping with this.
Counsellors do not judge their clients. They won’t laugh at you or give out to you for your opinions, they are specifically trained to be non-judgemental. Counselling works best when you get on with and trust the counsellor. It may take you a while to feel comfortable talking to your counsellor, but this is perfectly normal.
What happens in counselling?
Counselling sessions generally last about 50 minutes, it can vary depending on what the client feels is right for them. Counselling usually takes place in a face to face session. However, it can also take place over the phone, on the internet or in a group.
Confidentiality: Regardless of where you attend counselling a confidentiality agreement is required.
Importance of Confidentiality: What you say to your therapist is confidential and in the college context other staff members will not be informed of what you talk about.
Limits of Confidentiality: The limits occur on occasions when there is a question of harm or injury to you or someone else. If a disclosure of abuse is disclosed. If the perpetrator has access to children, under the counsellor duty of care it needs to be reported. If you knew that a minor was at risk again it will need to be reported.
Counselling helps to develop better emotional well being. Emotional wellbeing is characterised by an ability to connect with and understand ones feelings. When a person experiences emotional wellbeing they are able to cope with challenging feelings such as anxiety and stress. They can also understand what these feelings might be telling them about their needs and where necessary take action to restore their emotional balance. Enhanced emotional wellbeing can lead to good self-esteem and improved relationships with others.
Decreased emotional wellbeing is characterised by an inability to cope with ones emotions and increased likelihood of experiencing ongoing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Counselling can help people with decreased emotional wellbeing to develop skills and learn techniques that can lead them to experience greater emotional wellbeing
What are the benefits of counselling?
Talking and being heard
One of the simplest things that counselling offers people is the opportunity for them to talk about their feelings. For some counselling provides their first experience of revealing their true feelings to anyone. Talking alone can enable these individuals to experience a feeling of relief – like a heavy weight has been lifted off them.
Getting to know your feelings
A core part of experiencing emotional wellbeing is an ability to connect with and understand ones feelings. It is important to understand our feelings because they provide us with an insight into our authentic self and who we really are.
From our feelings we understand what we like, dislike, what makes us feel happy or sad. Our feelings can also give us insight into our needs.
When we go through difficulties in our lives, we can become more aware of those feelings that we are unable to handle.
For instance when people experience academic stress, they come into contact with feelings of anxiety because of the uncertainty and lack of control they have over the results they will get, what do after college, etc. Counselling can benefit them because it provides a safe place for them to feel and express these feelings. It can also help them learn how to cope with their feelings.
Learning to cope with your feelings
People who come to therapy because they feel overwhelmed by their feelings of anxiety and depression often want to ignore and push away these feelings. Unfortunately this way of relating to their feelings only leads them to experience these feelings all the more intensely. Counselling can assist these individuals with getting to understand what their feelings are trying to tell them about their needs. It can also help them to learn techniques such as guided meditations, which they can use to feel calmer.
Over time the person may come to recognise their feelings as a part of themselves that needs attention. They might begin to connect with the small child within themselves who feels unloved. They might no longer want to push their feelings and this part of themselves away. By shifting their mindset from fearing their feelings to befriending their feelings people can experience greater love and acceptance of themselves – along with enhanced emotional wellbeing.
Other benefits of counselling
Better relationships with others
So once we are able to understand and cope with our feelings we need to be able to express them. Our relationships are a fundamental part of feeling happy in our lives. When people struggle with expressing their feelings they can experience increased feelings of anxiety in their close relationships. People who struggle with intimacy issues often have difficulty with expressing their feelings in their relationships.
An example of how not being able to express our feelings might adversely affect our relationships is when we feel upset with someone. If we are unable to express our feelings to that person, then we might instead withdraw and shut down emotionally towards them. This means we don’t give ourselves the chance to experience intimacy in this relationship because we are not revealing to the other person who we are. Over time, this pattern of withdrawing can also lead to this relationship breaking down. Counselling can help people to learn how to communicate their feelings (and needs) to others they can overcome the need to withdrawn and shut down, instead enjoying more satisfying relationships.
Counselling can also help us to expand the range of feelings we are able to experience. If a person cuts off from their feelings of pain, then they will also cut off from feelings of joy. This can affect how alive they feel.