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  • Writer's pictureTracy Dixon

How do you know if you need counselling?

Updated: Jun 11

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your emotions or struggling to cope with life's challenges, you might be wondering if counselling could help.

Counselling provides a safe and supportive space to explore your thoughts and feelings with a trained professional. In this blog post, I will describe the counselling process, discuss how to recognise when you might benefit from counselling, and outline the steps to booking a session.

First, let’s take a closer look at what counselling is and isn’t.

Man holding his head in his heads looking in emotional pain and wondering 'do I need counselling?'

What is counselling?

At its core, counselling is a deeply personal and collaborative journey you embark on with a compassionate professional. It's a common misconception that counselling involves a counsellor dictating your next steps or offering direct advice. Instead, imagine it as a partnership where you both navigate your experiences, feelings, and behaviours together. This partnership offers you a unique, non-judgmental environment to delve into your thoughts and feelings, providing clarity and insight that might have seemed impossible before.

Counselling is also about empowering you with the tools and strategies needed to confront and manage the challenges life throws your way. It's a process designed to facilitate self-discovery, encourage personal growth, and foster a greater sense of well-being. Unlike casual advice from friends or family, counselling uses therapeutic techniques grounded in psychological research.

It's important to recognise that counselling is not a quick fix or a one-size-fits-all solution. The progress and outcomes depend on your active participation and the strength of the therapeutic relationship. Each session is a step towards understanding yourself better and learning effective ways to cope with life's complexities. Through this journey, counselling can help you to understand your inner strengths, moving you towards a path of healing and resilience.

Do I need counselling? Recognising the signs that you need help.

Experiencing occasional sadness or nervousness is part of being human, but when these emotions become a part of your daily experience, it might be time to consider counselling. Recognising when your feelings of anxiety or despair have moved beyond the realm of typical reactions to stressors can be challenging. It's important to pay attention to signs that suggest a deeper issue, such as:

  • A continuing sadness that doesn’t fade.

  • Anxiety that is constant and interferes with your ability to perform daily tasks

  • A noticeable lack of energy and motivation.

  • Finding little pleasure in activities you used to enjoy.

  • Experiencing changes in your sleep patterns or appetite.

  • Feeling isolated because you’re withdrawing from social interactions.

These can be signs that the weight you’re carrying is too heavy to manage alone. If you’re noticing these persistent symptoms, it may be an indication that professional support could help.

Making the decision. Steps to take before starting counselling.

Begin by allowing yourself a moment to reflect on the emotions and experiences that are leading you to seek support:

  • What are the things that you are finding difficult?

  • What aspects of your life do you hope to improve or understand better?

This self-reflection is a good starting point as it sets the foundation for your counselling goals and expectations.

Researching potential counsellors becomes the next vital step. Reputable websites like the BACP and Psychology Today list only counsellors with the appropriate training and registration. Look for professionals whose expertise aligns with your needs and whose approach resonates with you personally.

Consider reaching out to more than one counsellor: many offer initial consultations at no charge. These first conversations can be really useful, helping you to get an idea of the level of connection that might be possible. You may have questions about counselling that you can ask at this point. Remember, this process is not about finding a quick solution but rather seeking someone who you feel you can build a solid therapeutic relationship.

There are some practical things to consider like your preferred location. Many counsellors now offer therapy via online platforms and via telephone. This can be just as effective as face-to-face sessions. You will also want to find out about the counsellor’s fee and any cancellation policy they may have. Once you have found a counsellor that feels comfortable for you, you can make arrangements for that initial meeting.

In a future blog post, I am going to talk about what happens in that first session and how you can be sure that you get the most from it. If you have found this article helpful, please do share. If you would like to book a free consultation please get in touch.

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