There are many thoughts and blogs on whether counselling is right for us, and how we might know the time is right to see someone. We are, by now, quite familiar with ideas of what counselling can help with. What is not often addressed is the anxiety we feel at the prospect of becoming someone who goes to counselling. Can we find an answer that calms our anxieties when we ask the question: what does it say about me, that I want or need counselling?
Undoubtedly, taking this step is a leap of faith. You would be entering into a degree of uncertainty. Will you like your counsellor? Will you ‘click’? What if you don’t? Will it be easy not to go back, or will they 'trick' you into the process? If you do like them, will they 'get' you? And if all of that is positive, will they be able to help you? This is a process, you are using up energy, money, time, and you want this experience to be positive and helpful. You want your counsellor to be competent and to know their craft. You want them to care about you and your welfare. Ultimately, you want them to have been in counselling themselves, to know what that feels like. Or…if they are or have been in counselling, what does that say about them? And so on. The process is filled with uncertainty and our anxieties about what it means for someone to seek counselling.
There is one thing you can be certain about. The act of seeking counselling says that we have identified something about our life that is no longer working for us. Maybe you have noticed something about yourself that you no longer like, or find useful. Maybe it’s the way you feel when you are with a certain person, or maybe you’ve suddenly noticed that you no longer get the same passion and enjoyment from something that brought you joy until not so long ago. Maybe you are in pain or anguish, and don't know why or what to do to pass through it. Maybe you want to leave a relationship or start one, and don’t quite know how to do that. Maybe you just want some space to regroup, and process your needs and desires, to check in with yourself, and see whether you are on a path that is meaningful to you.
Considering counselling says something valuable about your desire for growth. You have recognised within yourself your capacity to mature, develop, become autonomous, to enhance your existence, and yes, to change. While we recognise growth and change as essential if we want things to be different, we also recognise the threatening and painful nature of change. What will it mean for me, when things are different? This is a question filled with uncertainty. To ask 'is counselling right for me now' reflects our valuing of ourselves: we want to make the effort count and for the change to be meaningful. Seeking professional help can help us to feel we have given ourselves the best chance to make that happen.
We want to feel more integrated, relate differently, make different choices, yet the act of changing and moving in that direction will have consequences. Words like 'counselling' and 'therapy' go straight to the heart of that uncertainty. Despite that, counselling is grounded in its function to help you express that potential for change and growth and go through the process of becoming more like the person you wish to be.
The act of entering into counselling or therapy says plainly and clearly that, despite the uncertainty, you value your happiness and life deeply, and are willing to shoulder the pain of change to grow towards a life you want.