- Written by the Clinical Team of Nova Vida Recovery Centre
Counselling is known by many different names. Counselling and Therapy are the common ones and are one of the same. For many it conjures up images of lying on a leather couch revealing their inner most secrets to someone resembling a mad professor. There is often fear or a sense of weakness attached to going to see a Counsellor – “what subconscious thoughts and feelings are they going to dig out of me?” – “I should be able to solve this myself”.
There is so much myth and misunderstanding around counselling that it is important to debunk all of it so you can feel more at ease with the prospect of counselling and the help it offers.
It is also sad to say that many people have had unfortunate experiences with untrained or unqualified therapists leading to feelings of confusion and/or wasted time and money. It is essential that you carefully select the therapist who is professionally trained and qualified. You need to engage with a therapist you can form a therapeutic relationship with based on trust who has a caring and ethical approach; somebody who, after just one or two sessions, leaves you thinking “I can talk to this person” and who works with you rather than dictates to you. Trust that what you say in therapy remains in therapy, trust that the therapist is not judging you and trust that the therapist really does care.
In the treatment of addiction, addictive behaviours, eating disorders and some emotional illness such as anxiety, stress or depression, it is essential that you choose a therapist who has specific training and also experience in treating people with these disorders. They have a more focused approach working with you using various approaches that are evidence based rather than a blinkered approach of “one size fits all” - It doesn’t. For some it may be essential to examine childhood experiences/abuse that have been instrumental in the way they think, act and behave in the world today. For others there may be issues of trauma in adulthood or other unpleasant experiences in their lives that have led them to use inappropriate coping strategies for the memories. These issues respond best to different types of therapeutic approach and certainly do not fit into “one size fits all”. Please be aware of therapists who say they can “treat trauma”. Without specific training they can at best offer little more than a caring ear and at worse inflict more psychological damage.
One of the aims of therapy is to help you make the changes in your life that you need to make. In order to cope, we adopt behaviours that have become so ingrained that we are unaware of the damage they are inflicting on ourselves and others that matter in our lives. Or, we may be aware of them but there is some pay off, perhaps at a sub-conscious level that has enabled the behaviours to continue despite the harmful consequences. At times we can be unaware of the behaviour and unaware of the pay-off to that behaviour. Others can see it but we can’t. The therapist can help you first of all identify what these changes are in your thinking and behaviour and work with you in the change process. Sometimes we are in denial about many aspects of our self and we need to breakdown that denial and then make the emotionally painful changes to thinking, believing and behaviours which on the surface, have stood us in good stead for the majority of our lives but in practise have left us with feelings of inadequacy in important areas of our lives and have contributed to stress, anxiety or depression.
A trained therapist can help you by exploring and identifying with you the changes you need to make. A good therapist can offer you insight, hope, faith and courage so you can find the motivation to do the hard work necessary to make changes For some individual counselling/therapy over a number of weeks can be useful in addressing the underlying issues or triggers to excessive drinking, using or behaviours and allow you to drink or use safely without, in the majority of cases, causing further medical complications.
Counselling/therapy in whatever guise it might take is an essential investment in your future and it is imperative that you make the right choices. A little research and the right time can make a lot of difference in the long run. Impartial advice is difficult to obtain and you can become lost in the vast amount of information available on the Internet. Although the writers of this article own to having interests in their own practice they also acknowledge the importance of giving people a choice but it has to be the right choice. We hope in writing this we have remained impartial.
For further information or a confidential consultation call Sally on 919 357 827 or visit www.novavidarecovery.com.