It can be hard to ask for help and particularly so if you are someone who has become used to dealing with your own difficulties alone. You may be making the assumption that asking for help is somehow a sign of weakness and that by allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of another, you are leaving yourself open to criticism, judgement and rejection.
Whenever someone approaches me to find out more about starting counselling or psychotherapy, I am always aware that just the act of picking up the phone or firing off an email can feel like a huge step – let alone turning up at my consulting room door not knowing quite what to expect. Of course, there might also be feelings of excitement and relief mixed in with the apprehension and, as I am always at great pains to point out, therapy doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Indeed, there are often times when we can celebrate life’s successes, laugh about absurdities and enjoy changes for the better.
I work in a relational way; that is, I am curious about how you and I relate to each other. How you are with me is often a good indicator as to how you are with others, or certain others. At first, you may need to talk about what has happened to you throughout your life, perhaps to try and make sense of your experiences. During this part of the therapy process I will spend a lot of time listening and checking with you that I have understood. Ultimately, though, I am interested in finding out whether something in your past is having a detrimental impact on how you approach the present. Perhaps you are making assumptions about how to respond to your own feelings or how to behave around others. How and when you accept help from others might be one of the areas of your life we can explore together.
I recognise that starting counselling or psychotherapy can be difficult for some people and will do everything I can to support you in your decision. Engaging in therapy can also feel like hard work – taking energy, time and courage to keep going, particularly during the first few months. My aim is to offer a safe place where you can step out of the usual hubbub of daily living and explore different ways of both coping with and enjoying life.
In short, I see daring to look at yourself through therapy as an act of courage. The kind of help I offer is about exploring how you might respond differently in certain circumstances or with certain others. I offer support during this exploration whilst all the time encouraging you to make your own decisions as to what feels right for you.
Copyright: Caroline Clarke, Brighton Counsellor and Psychotherapist
Image courtesy of Tom Curtis at FreeDigitalPhotos