Time spent talking with a mental health specialist – whether face to face or online – can feel validating. A reason is the work with a private therapist offers a personal, and important way to explore an understanding and connection to your mental health. It could be that there are occasions where you have thought of counselling for relationship difficulties, anxiety, depression, trauma or maybe because you know something is just not okay.
It is my opinion that counselling can have benefits because of the safe, non-judgemental and confidential space to explore what it means to be you through the difficulties you may be suffering. Would you like to know more?
Where do you begin to find mental health benefits?
Professionally, I believe the benefits could start when you think about who you would like to work with. The beginning point of a therapeutic relationship can feel less beneficial if you simply sign up without giving much thought to your requirements. Here is a short list of a few simple and key questions to start you off:
- Would you prefer a male counsellor, or a female counsellor?
There are reasons we have gender preferences for mental health specialists. The choice could come from looking at a profile image to show this to you. It is worth paying attention to these beliefs because it could link to someone who is similar to a caregiver, peer or partner you’ve trusted in the past, or present. It could be that you feel safer around a certain gender to open up and be communicative.
2. What do you spend the most time thinking about?
Write down a short paragraph of what it is you would like help with. If this feels overwhelming do not be too concerned. An accredited and qualified professional will be able to assist you with finding your core concerns. It could help both people to use the time most effectively to feel into a new therapeutic relationship.
3. Would you prefer to work face to face, or online?
For people at this current time there has to be consideration around the financial cost, and the time it takes to travel to get mental health support. I offer face to face and online services in Gandy Street, Exeter and via Zoom. This could be helpful to plan the commute into the city, or how connecting online is time efficient.
For me – both as a practitioner and personally – these questions have helped form a beginning point. The benefits will come when feeling you can trust the professional and personal counselling space.
How do I find a counsellor or therapist who can provide mental health benefits?
Once you have gained insight from answering these questions, the next step is to enquire with local and national counsellors and psychotherapists. A recommended number to get in touch with is 2-3 people from a reliable source like the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapist directory.
Generally, professionals will offer some sort of introductory call. At this point you will be asked questions about how they can help. You might feel able to share a lot, or perhaps not much of how you are feeling. It is a professional belief, an accredited and qualified professional will seek to start to support you. It might be that you have completed the questions from above and are able to read them aloud.
Overall, the introductory call, like the 20 minute free session with Sweet Mental Health, will open some dialogue for you to feel if the person is good enough for you mental health needs. I do recommend the cliché of, ‘sleeping on it’ if it does not feel quite good enough, and perhaps moving on to the next person if this sensation persists.
That ‘gut feeling’ is a key indicator of your intuitive self. There could be a great deal of learning for you if this does happen. It could be that you please people and haven’t been asked to not do this. Would you say that sounds familiar?
How will I know counselling is working?
When you start working with a professional you will hopefully leave reflecting on each session. It could be that you feel early on that the singular problem you came to someone for is easing. Or, it could be that more difficulties have presented themselves and you may be experiencing more frequent mental health difficulties. Talk therapy is not a quick fix. For most, talk therapy is not easy.
When we acknowledge there is an urgent or immediate need to address these difficulties, it makes us vulnerable and more open to look at our core self. A professional belief is that this type of openness takes time, compassion and a safe space to address what it is you are witnessing each week. The shift of being able to name, and view the way you cope and defend yourself against the hardest of times is how we can monitor, and talk about what it is which challenges you the most. When we review these, I feel a good result is to hear you share self awareness and be better able to manage in life.
How long will it take to feel benefits?
I do understand why people ask this question. The current economic climate and how precious people find their time to be often requires a need to budget.
In my previous blog on CBT therapy I covered how singular events take less time to work through whereas more complex work like counselling for addiction, anxiety, depression and trauma can take much longer. It is therefore difficult to add an exact figure. However, we start by contracting for a minimum of 6-8 weeks and see how you feel when our work might be likely to end.
I would suggest that if you do the homework between sessions – it is not like school so please do not discount these tasks as they add value to the work – you will gain more awareness sooner. This type of investment will require time and financial implications to your world which needs to be factored in to the expectation as you work on yourself. If, on the other hand, you feel that weekly sessions are the only time you can devote to your well-being then benefits would most likely take longer to arrive at.
What are the long lasting benefits of counselling?
The aim for counselling is to be able to share your most authentic self and really get to know who you are, and would like to become. Overall, counselling and psychotherapy enables a place to look at the aspects which you feel are holding you back, or enabling you to be that person.
I would add that if you arrive in each session and are able to name occasions where you have used the tools to cope in each day differently, then we are looking for greater accountability to add more positive outcomes to your life.
In short, the benefits of counselling are to build better self awareness to feel more balanced each day. If the length of a day is too great to manage then we will look at the seconds, minutes and hours. As your therapist, my aim is to help you arrive at your own sweet mental health.