There are a number of definitions of counselling that can be found worldwide. The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) are thought to be the first to write a definition and these have been followed by other governing bodies since. If you would like a more detailed definition please take a look at the links to Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) that are shown on our contact page.
The terms Counsellor and Therapist are often used to describe someone in the same role. There are a number of different routes into this work so for the purposes of this blog I will use them interchangeably.
So…. what is the counselling process?
I would like to start by saying there are no miracle cures. Your counsellor isn’t there to fix you or change individuals but they can help you to readjust thought pattern, feelings and behaviours. By working with a therapist, or counsellor someone can achieve a sense of peace with their daily experience, become comfortable with themselves, their inner workings and reactions to things outside of themselves, which may include the behaviours of others.
Counselling is a form of ‘talk therapy’ and is a process where individuals meet with a trained professional counsellor to talk about something that is happening in their lives. Professional counselling is confidential and non-judgmental. When a counselling relationship works well it can provide people with the opportunity to share their views, be heard and gain new perspectives on their situation and experiences. Counselling can also help people to gain clarity surrounding issues. Together with their counsellor people identify and work towards achieving the desired outcomes and goals for counselling. Counselling is NOT a space to be given advice or to be told how to live your life.
If you have considered counselling but have been put off by what you have heard, the following may help. Men and male identified people decide to go and meet with a counsellor for a variety of reasons. Some because of a traumatic event that has happened recently, or in the past which has left them feeling differently about their life. Others decide that their life isn’t quite what they want it to be and feel that there is something missing. Reasons can vary from addictive patterns of behaviour, problems within a relationship, loss of a loved one, recent or past, a change in life events such as divorce, or separation, coming to terms with sexual identity, sexual orientation, or understanding of gender. More recently, many have been accessing counselling to understand their thoughts and feelings during the pandemic. There are some who simply want to check in with another person to process everyday life and relationships in a safe, non judgmental space. So as you can see, counselling can be a multi faceted experience that many people find benefits and changes their life experience.
There are many messages out there about what counselling is, some of which are not my own personal experience. I hear clients saying that before they started working with me that they had a very different understanding of what the experience was going to be like. Sometimes this can be due to a previous counselling experience that didn’t work out that well. Others have learned from TV and film where counsellors are depicted a certain way, or heard friends, family and colleagues tell them about their negative experiences. All this can be really off putting when we consider how difficult it is to show up to therapy in the first place to ask for help!
So here is a little bit of information which may help...
Before starting the counselling relationship it is worth speaking with the counsellor for an introductory session where you can decide whether they would be a good fit for you. Many people see a counsellor just one time and because the experience wasn’t good they never go back. There are a number of reasons why this may be the case. The first session can feel a little strange as it may bring up feelings that have been suppressed for a long time. The process can also take a while to adjust to as unlike other relationships the focus is on the client and this can often feel one sided and strange. As the focus is on the client this can often feel like pressure, especially for someone who isn’t used to sharing their feelings with another person. Your therapist can help you navigate your way through this experience and it is ok to ask that they explain things, or slow down when things feel confusing. It is also common that like any relationship, your relationship with your therapist takes some time to become familiar. I have been told on many occasions that someone feels that they worked with a bad counsellor. Whilst I am sure there are some who are not meant for the role, it is also likely that there is something that just doesn’t work in the relationship between you and the counsellor. Counsellors are taught as part of our training (along with ethical guidelines from our governing bodies) to see the signs that we may not be the right fit for a client and will often suggest a referral. If this doesn’t happen however and the relationship doesn’t feel like a good fit, listen to what your instincts are telling you as it may be that working with someone else could be a better option.
At MxN we work in a client lead, trauma informed way to provide what each person hopes to gain from their therapeutic journey. We see each person’s life as a whole piece of the puzzle and any behavioral responses as a reaction to something that isn’t working for that person. By working with one of our counsellors it is possible to take a look at your life and work out how to change what is happening for you.
We have both qualified, experienced counsellors and practicum students working with us and so there is a lot of knowledge that we work with to help you on your therapeutic journey.
We look forward to hearing from you and working with you on your journey.