Traditionally people do seek out counsellors when they're experiencing emotional pain, or feeling stuck and don't know what to do next. However proactive people also choose to see a counsellor when they're looking to for an unbiased perspective or want to cultivate and grow the positive aspects already present in their lives.
Here are the top nine excuses I hear when a client first finds me and starts to explain why they hadn't come to see me sooner.
It’s a common belief that people can only see counsellors when something is amiss or wrong. Far from it. Many people enlist the support of a counsellor to continue building positive habits, just like hiring a personal trainer at the gym. With their specialist skills in human behaviour and non-judgemental approach clients can accelerate their transformation and embed the desired habits quicker. There is only so much you can achieve without external support.
We all like who we are, otherwise why be us? Counselling isn’t about fixing. It’s about finding parts of you that you have kept hidden and giving them some light. It can also be about turning down the volume on some of your over-used behaviours. Often when working with clients I find I am spending time explaining how a particular behaviour could have developed, providing options to manage it better and offering alternative perspectives to situations. Ultimately the choice to adapt or change sits with the individual.
The tide is turning about asking for help. While previously it may have been seen as a sign of weakness, nowadays having the awareness and courage to ask for help, is seen as a strength. Think of it like a wetsuit. Some days you need a thicker wetsuit to insulate you from the cold water. Well, counselling insulates you from the negative impacts of daily life, otherwise known as stress. It can also propel you forward when everything around you might be falling apart.
The truth is what you consider embarrassing or shameful that you don’t want to share with a stranger for fear of being judged, may well be considered tame by your counsellor. This is particularly true if they are experienced and/or work within a specialty. From personal experience specialising in sleep with career-oriented individuals I am yet to hear something that shocks or surprises me. And I hear a lot!
Counsellors are required to adopt an impartial perspective and required by law to keep your secrets. Not all friends and family can be trusted with your innermost thoughts. Nor do they want to be. They also have a vested interest in what you decide to do or not do. Many years ago, my husband wanted to sell up and move to the country. I wasn’t the best person to help him process that because that wasn’t what I wanted for us. Thankfully he agreed to see a counsellor to work though his thinking and future career plans.
Surprise - counselling isn’t about whingeing. It’s about taking proactive steps to untangle what’s in your head into a coherent structure. As the client you get to direct the conversation and the counsellor supports you to make sense of it. If you fear you might be whingeing, what a great opportunity to have an open conversation to help you reframe your situation into something positive. Where you can identify learnings and look to avoid experiencing that kind of situation again.
If you feel like you’re too busy to invest an hour of your time once every two-to-three weeks’ then you really do need a counsellor. It’s a sign that your ability to prioritise has got ‘out of whack’ and you are in need of support to re-draw those boundaries. Attending counselling is an act of self-care and gives you the opportunity to reflect, re-set and re-fuel for the upcoming challenges that will no doubt present themselves. It supports to you to put your best self forward.
Not all counselling has to be long-term and cost prohibitive. Most counselling engagements can be short (up to three sessions), if the client is clear on what they want to move forward on and is satisfied with their progress outside of the therapy room. Costs to see a counsellor can vary and it depends on the counsellor’s expertise, location and availability. Most counsellors however are willing to discuss rates if it is a good client-counsellor match and cost is an issue.
Most counsellors have a website and can be found via a Google search. Reputable ones are members of the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) https://www.theaca.net.au/ or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) https://www.pacfa.org.au/. If you have a preference to see a psychologist who can offer counselling, you can get a referral from your GP. Your GP will provide you with a Mental Health Plan so you can see them for a reduced rate.
If you have heard yourself say one of these excuses to yourself or heard someone else say one of them to you, it's a sure-fire sign it's time to consider seeing a counsellor. Look to find one your trust and feel understands you and your situation. If you'd like to book in a Introductory Discussion with Martine, click on this link.