Does Counselling work?

In my first session with clients a question that comes up is: will this work for me? This probably comes from a completely understandable anxiety to get the right help and not waste time or money. The answer, however, is not a simple one, because it depends…

It depends if the person is ‘in the right place’ for counselling and, of course, if the Counsellor is any good. This answer can sound pretty unhelpful, but in reality it’s true; and at the same time my client’s have spoken of burdens being lifted and massive personal changes taking place. Personally I know it works if people are in the right place, and I know it worked for me.

I also know it to be true that if I can:

  • develop a relationship with my client so they feel able to share all those thoughts and feelings they ‘shouldn’t‘ have, and
  • share with them that I understand what it might be like to feel that way and be alongside them when times are really overwhelming and painful

then something sort of magical happens…

  • clients feel a massive relief that they are not ‘crazy’ or ‘bad’ but completely understandable.
  • The feelings they were trying to hide from are now being acknowledged, and this then allows something to shift**.
  • Once this new feeling is brought out into the open they can see it truly for the first time and can begin to accept and understand it. Like everything in life, if you keep pushing something it will push back, but now because we are no longer fighting against it, it can morph and change, and stop overwhelming us.

This change and acceptance is difficult and can be painful, and it is the only way I have ever experienced how to change things for good.

There is scientific evidence about how effective counselling can be, but as always this is about people in general, not you, not the client sat in front of me. So yes, it is a risk, and with the right Counsellor, at the right time, perhaps one of the best risk you’ll ever take.

*  I use the word acceptance, but I don’t mean it in an airy fairy way, it could be accepting the anger or rage which is beneath the surface or a deep sadness which follows you around.

** This is also called the paradox of change

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