A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about beginning my wellness journey. In the post, I explained about how I had been feeling recently, and that while I had set myself so many goals with good intentions last year I hadn’t actually acted on any of them. Last month was the catalyst for me realising that I really needed to pursue and commit to bettering myself, and one of the things I needed to do in order to feel better was going back to therapy.
For some reason, therapy has been almost a dirty word in our society for so many years. It was something to be kept private, swept under the rug so that nobody realised you were struggling. While the conversations around mental health have become more widely accepted in recent years, I still think there is a stigma surrounding those suffering and those seeking out help – this is blindingly obvious if you consider the mental health provisions for both adults and young people in the UK. We are so lucky in this country to benefit from the incredible NHS, but funding for mental health is poor at best, and this leaves so many workers and patients frustrated at the lack of care they can receive.
I’m determined to use my voice and my platform as an advocate for mental health, and one of the ways in which I intend on doing this is by joining in and contributing to the ongoing and necessary conversations surrounding the topic. By no longer brushing mental health under the rug, we can ensure that it becomes as commonplace to discuss as physical health and hopefully, in time, it will be given the same amount of importance too.
In light of this, I’m going to discuss with you how I’m feeling on finally returning to therapy, and also give you some information on finding the right counsellor/therapist for you. So read on if you’d like to find out more.
HOW I FOUND THE RIGHT COUNSELLOR FOR ME
In the past, I have tried both NHS and private counselling. Unfortunately, through the NHS I never found the right therapist for me, but I did see a fabulous private counsellor called Jo at the very beginning of my 20s. I truly believe that is through her and her alone that I managed to come off my anti-depressants and have managed to stay off them the past 7 years and I owe her a lot.
To be referred to an NHS counsellor, I believe that you will need to discuss your feelings with your GP first in order to get a referral. Although on saying that, I think you can self-refer yourself to CBT therapists etc too – perhaps speak to your doctors surgery to get advice on this.
Finding private counsellors can be a bit of a minefield, and you may need to see a few before you find the right one for you. Prices vary, methods vary, and its really important that you gel well with the person you’re going to see otherwise you won’t get the results you want. Case in point: about 5 years ago I took a week off work to do a course that both my Mum and one of my aunties had done and got amazing results from. It cost £1000, and I went into it fully expecting to emerge a new woman with all of my issues sorted and new coping mechanisms to help me moving forwards, however the reality was entirely the opposite. I didn’t gel well with the person leading the course, I didn’t feel like I was actually getting anything from it, and when it finished I was left feeling hollow, empty and disappointed.
This time round, I did some research online into therapists in my local area and made note of various therapists I’d be interested in speaking to. I also discovered a website called Bark which allowed me to search for, and request quotes from, therapists in the area. When you log on it asks you what issues you’re looking for help with and also allows therapists to find you too. My current counsellor reached out to me on the platform and after an initial phone consultation I decided to go and see her for a session and see how we got on.
I think one thing you need to remember throughout the therapy process is that you need to remain open minded to the process. They might suggest trying exercises that seem absolutely crazy to you but sometimes they can actually work and help, you just have to be ready to embrace the process. The other thing to bear in mind is that while your counsellor may feel right to help you with some issues, you may need to reach out to someone else for help with others.
Therapy isn’t a one size fits all solution, so don’t panic if your issues aren’t solved immediately or as quickly as others’ you may know.
HOW I AM FINDING THE PROCESS THIS TIME
Short answer? I’m loving it.
I went to my first session feeling quite trepidatious. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was worried that I wouldn’t get a good vibe from my counsellor and that I’d be left feeling disappointed and unsure how to tell her that things weren’t feeling right for me. Luckily however, neither of those situations arose and I actually left feeling quite a bit better. It was an emotional session, and I think it always will be when you’re telling new people about things you’ve been carrying with you for most of your life, but it did feel somewhat cathartic to get it all out and know that the person listening is fully qualified to help.
I’ve now had three sessions with her, and I’m feeling better each time I go. I don’t for a minute think my problems are anywhere close to being resolved, and in fact we’ve only just scratched the surface of a few of them, but it’s interesting to hear how they’re all interlinked and how dealing with one will help me to deal with others too.
I feel like I’m continually having breakthroughs with the way I think about things between sessions too. Just today I had a major breakthrough with regards to my thoughts and feelings about my Dad. Those close to me will know the story, and it’s one thing I don’t feel comfortable sharing online for the time being at least, but being able to see the whole situation from a different perspective really stopped me in my tracks and the feelings that I had placed towards that situation felt so much more positive when I looked at it in a new light.
In the past, I’ve always looked at therapy as a course to be completed. Perhaps a fixed number of sessions before I’m sent on my way a shiny, happy person. This time around I’m actually actively wanting to stay in therapy for as long as possible because I know that even when the initial issues I want to discuss are sorted, it will still be so helpful for me to have somebody completely impartial to help me with anything that may arise in the future or simply to help talk me through life decisions or things that are bothering me. I think that, just the knowledge that you have someone there who cares and will listen and help is the biggest comfort of all.
So yes, I love it. I’m so happy I’ve made this decision and I definitely feel like I’m doing the right thing for myself, my brain and my future by exploring these issues and trying to find a resolution for them.
REACH OUT, SEEK HELP
If you’re finding yourself in a situation where you think you need help, please please please reach out and speak to someone. Whether it’s your doctor, a family member or friend, or even a teacher or colleague it is so important to ask for help.
I’ve left the details of some wonderful mental health helplines and organisations below. If you don’t have anyone in your immediate circle that you trust to speak to, the volunteers and case workers at these organisations will be able to help:
- Samaritans: 116 113
- Centrepoint (homeless charity for young people aged 16-25) : 0808 800 0661
- Mental Health Foundation: 020 7803 1101
- Together: 020 7780 7300
- PANDAS Foundation (pre/post-natal depression & psychosis): 0843 28 98 401
- Relate: 0300 100 1234
- Anxiety UK: 0844 775 774
- MIND: 0300 123 3393