Do I need counselling?
A better question might be, ‘can I benefit from trying counselling?’ Many people find counselling extremely helpful when they are emotionally distressed and are struggling to find a way forwards on their own. Counselling will always be more effective if it’s a choice that you’ve made yourself rather than something you’ve done because you feel you should, or because someone has told you that you need it.
Counselling might be beneficial for you if…
- Something has been troubling you over a period of time and you’re having difficulty finding a solution on your own
- Things are getting on top of you, and affecting your well being, for example, causing depression, anxiety or stress
- You find it hard to talk to friends or family because they are directly involved in the issues
- Issues from the past are having an impact on your day to day life
- Things that are troubling you are having a negative impact on your relationships or work
Counselling can help you reflect and make sense of difficult life events and find a way to move forward. Some of the benefits are…
- Talking to someone neutral, outside of your immediate situation, can show you a different perspective and help you find a way forward
- Talking with a trained counsellor who is skilled at listening can help you to process difficult thoughts and feelings, and feel that what’s worrying you can be contained and dealt with
- Sharing your worries helps you feel less alone with the problem
- You can gain a better understanding of yourself and a clearer sense of what you want and need
You can practice communicating more clearly and honestly in the safety of the counselling relationship
How many sessions will I need?
This depends on the type of counselling you receive and the issues that you are working through. Human Givens counselling seeks to help the client to achieve a better position in as short a time as possible and aim to provide the client with significant improvement within 6 sessions. This will vary depending on your presenting problem – you may only need one or two sessions if you are looking for help with a phobia for example, but may need more sessions, over a longer period of time if you are working with deeper seated issues.
Is everything we talk about confidential?
As a general rule, everything you say during the counselling session will be completely confidential, with two specific exceptions;
- If the counsellor feels that you present significant risk of harming yourself or others
- If you are involved in activities that carry a legal requirement to report e.g. acts of terrorism
In most cases, if the counsellor feels that it is necessary to break confidence, this will be discussed with you first. It is always preferable that the involvement of others and sharing of information is done with your knowledge and permission.
Why should I choose Positive Change?
Positive Change offers brief and effective counselling using proven methods and techniques to help you get you and your life back on track as quickly as possible. Ultimately, this should be the goal and the measure of any good counsellor.
Choose a counsellor that makes you feel secure and safe, who seeks to give you hope that things can be better as quickly as possible and who you can work with. Entering into counselling can be a deeply personal experience so you need to be sure that the person that you are entering into that relationship with is someone that you can trust and that you are comfortable with.
What kind of counselling will I need?
There are many different approaches to counselling. At Positive Change we use the Human Givens approach, a talking therapy, which is suitable for working with a wide range of problems and issues. This involves understanding how your emotional needs are currently not being met for you in a balanced way, looking at how you past might be influencing how you cope in the present, looking at what strengths and skills you have available to you and identifying ways to get your needs met in healthy ways. We also look at how we can help you to develop skills that you might be missing and develop ways to manage difficult feelings using a variety of techniques.
What happens at a counselling session?
After the initial assessment session, where we will explore a bit about you, your medical and personal history, and what you want to achieve from counselling, each session will take a similar approach. We will talk about what’s been going on for you and how you’ve experienced this since our last session, we will explore what you would like to get out of the session and how this will contribute to the overall goals that we identified, we will agree how the goals identified could be achieved, we will look at what skills and resources you have available to you to do this, and what else might need to be considered or developed and then we will rehearse those changes so that you can leave the session feeling confident in your ability to take the next step.
We may well use guided imagery both to help you relax and lower your levels of anxiety, and also as a way of using your imagination to practice what it will be like to make those changes. We may also work on specific phobias or traumas using an approach called the rewind technique (www.hgi.org.uk/useful-information/treatment-dealing-ptsd-trauma-phobias/rewind-technique) – this helps to unplug unhelpful and traumatic emotions and feelings from past events, so that a more positive and productive way of living can be explored.
What is mindfulness?
Let’s start with what Mindfulness is not. Mindfulness is not about trying to empty your mind of all thoughts and achieve some kind of zen-like calm where you are completely devoid of all thoughts, feelings or emotions. Even those most practised in the art of meditation would tell you that this is an impossible state to achieve and to attempt it leads only to frustration and disappointment!
Mindfulness is about focusing the mind into the immediate moment and is defined as the “awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding experience moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003 p.145). It involves directing attention to what we are experiencing in the here-and-now without making any evaluation of that experience in terms of whether it is good, bad or indifferent. This is particularly useful in learning to manage anxiety and depression, where we tend to spend a lot of our time focused on what has happened in the past, or what is going to happen in the future, usually with negative associations. It helps us to learn to be in the present, to accept our current circumstances for what they are and to become more aware of when we are becoming stuck in the past or future and the impact that it has on us.
There are many ways of achieving a “mindful” (rather than mind full) state of mind and all work through identifying a focus of attention, and attempting to maintain that focus of attention. If our attention breaks, we merely acknowledge that this has happened and refocus our attention back. We might use our breath or sensations in our body as our focus; we might engage in a mindful activity, such as eating or drinking.
Importantly, it’s a skill that most people can learn to do – it doesn’t require any special skills or talents – just a willingness to think differently and consider that not everything we do has to have a judgement associated with it.
Through increased research in recent years we have now come to understand that Mindfulness can help in the treatment of a number of psychological issues, including depression, anxiety and chronic pain. Additionally is is associated with lower levels of experienced stress, improved life satisfaction, greater self esteem and a greater sense of autonomy and competence.
What should my COMPANY do to support employee mental health?
It’s likely that your employees spend approximately a third of their waking week engaged in work activities. Certainly from Monday to Friday they probably spend more time awake at work than they do at home. This means that as employers, you have a responsibility to ensure that the time your employees spend with you is productive and healthy, both physically and mentally and that they work in an environment where they feel safe and secure.
It’s no secret that workplace stress, and associated mental illness is on the increase. We’re all working longer hours, in more pressured environments, with higher expectations than ever before. Information provided by Mind (www.mind.org.uk) suggests that as many as 1 in 5 employees have taken time off work as a result of stress and that almost half of employees have considered resigning as a result of workplace stress at some point during their career. Unfortunately, as many as 1 in 3 of employees don’t feel that they could talk to their company or management! And over half of Employers said that they didn’t feel equipped to deal with employee stress and mental well being.
As responsible employers, we should be looking at the following things;
- Do we offer a supportive culture where people feel able to address concerns?
- Do we promote well being to our employees?
- Do we understand the causes of work related mental health problems and potential issues within our organisation, and have appropriate measures in place to deal with them?
- Do we have the right resources in place to support a healthy working environment?
Ultimately, your business depends on having happy, healthy and engaged employees – ensuring that they have a work environment that allows them to fulfil their emotional needs, whilst achieving the greater needs of the organisation is key.
What should my EMPLOYER do about mental health?
We are all responsible for our own mental health! However, achieving that can be difficult if you work in an environment that doesn’t enable you to do that!
Your employer has a legal obligation to ensure that you work in a safe physical environment – the Health and Safety Executive have very clear guidelines about how employers should maintain a safe workplace when it comes to the physical environment and nature of your work. Things are a little less clear about the mental environment. Fundamentally however, any good employer should be looking to address the following things;
- Do they offer a supportive culture where people feel able to raise their concerns?
- Do they promote well being to their employees?
- Do they understand the causes of work related mental health problems and potential issues within their organisation and do they have appropriate measures in place to deal with them?
- Do they have the right resources in place to support a healthy working environment?
Ask your employer to show you their policies on health and well being, and take a good look at what provisions they make for training associated with stress management & mental well being, and what is in place to support you if you find yourself suffering with stress or other mental health conditions. Not every employer will be able to afford to have expensive training programmes in place or dedicated well being teams, but they should have a clear understanding of the potential causes of mental health problems in the work place, and appropriate ways to deal with them in a supportive and positive way.
I've had counselling before, it didn't work. What's different?
The human givens approach – which was developed 20 years ago – derives from the understanding that, when essential emotional needs are met and our innate mental resources are used correctly, a human being will be emotionally and mentally healthy.
It is when emotional needs are not adequately met, or met in unhealthy ways, or when innate resources are damaged for any reason, or unintentionally misused, that undesirable mental states such as anxiety, anger, depression, addiction and psychosis develop. For instance, misuse of the imagination – imagining the worst possible or most threatening scenarios – is a common feature of all these states.
To achieve this end – and to help with any other presenting problem – human givens therapists draw from the essence of a variety of tried and tested therapeutic methods (such as cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, solution focused approaches, motivational interviewing, reflective listening and hypnotherapy) as well as the latest neuroscientific findings and new insights derived from the HG approach which increase our knowledge of what it means to be human and our understanding of what people need to maintain emotional wellbeing.
It is a practical, forward-focused approach, which concentrates on mastery of skills and understandings that people can use in the future to move on in their lives, rather than concentrating on, and being stuck in, what went wrong in the past. This is the case even if people have suffered horrific traumatising events – all human givens therapists are taught a reliable, evidence-based method for detraumatising people, which in most cases works in one session.
Can I get my counselling paid for?
If you have been referred to us by your GP, via your employer (either directly or through an Employee Assistance Programme) or through a personal health or medical insurer then you will be able to get your counselling paid for.
Can I trust you with my personal information?
Simply put, yes. Positive Change are a registered Data Controller on the public register of data controllers and commit to handle any personal information you give us in accordance with the Data Protection act of 1998. We will never sell your information on to third parties and will only ever share personal information with your informed consent.