Why I Choose Counselling (Even When Things Are Going Well)

Sometimes, I just need to talk.

I slip the fact I've been to counselling into many of these posts, mostly because it's fact about my life that is often relevant to what I'm writing about. But I recently realised that I've never really delved deeper to you, my readers, about why and how this came to be. I know many people don't feel comfortable divulging that they do but for some reason it has never really bothered me, I have generally been able to speak with relative ease. Since it was a friend first confessing that she was in counselling that prompted me to go all that time ago, I have come to realise how helpful this honesty can be to people. So, like so many other emotional subjects in my life, I thought: why not put it on the internet?

I first ventured into counselling three years ago, at the beginning of that freshman year. I was newly single and grieving hard, far away from family and with only new friends to support me. I say only new friends not in a derogatory way – they have since become some of the closest relationships I have ever known in my life – but to express that we had been in each other's presence mere weeks. Whilst they provided an incredible amount of support and love, I still needed something else to get me through the tragic time. Cue the conversation that made me ask: "should I go to counselling?"

I should add something of a disclaimer here to say that counselling is offered for free at my university, and in unlimited quantities. I am well aware that this is not the case for many people, and counselling bills can be on the pricey side. Thus in any urging to you for seeking help here, I do want to acknowledge the fortuitous position I find myself in (and I can assure you I am taking full advantage of it in my last year).  

Since then I have seen something in the region of five counsellors, some far more helpful than others. Counselling is such an individual experience and who you see can make a huge difference, but the person who is right for me might not be the best for you. Similarly I am finding that some styles of counselling help more than others at different stages of my life. When I am in crisis mode I don't want someone to work through deeper problems, I need shorter term strategies. Yet at other times when things are calmer I have found it helpful to get to the root of certain schemas (ways of thinking about things). My current counsellors style of championing each achievement is particularly appreciated in this stress-fueled, work-laden final year. I would definitely say that if counsellor isn't right for you it doesn't mean that counselling in general isn't, just that maybe it's worth trying out someone else. 

When I wrote this about a month ago, I was at a place where I probably didn't need to go, but I was so grateful for the hour I spend a fortnight talking about my feelings. Now that's not so much the case, but turning to Dr. Rami when I needed him was so much easier for the hours I had spent talking about myself and my life when I was much happier. He could shortcut through discovering my past to get to helping me where I needed in the present. 

The things I share are often thoughts that I couldn't talk to anyone else about, and I see each session as a chance to work on my bad mental health habits for the future. I've certainly come a long way from those early days of sobbing in my first counsellor's office, a fact that I was thrilled to share with her when we recently reunited in Washington DC. But I don't think I would have come so far were it not for the many hours spent in counselling in between. I'm so glad I took a deep breath all those years ago and made through terrifying steps towards getting help, and I do remember how nerve wracking it was. I hope this post can somehow normalise the experience for you, or give you the gentle nudge you might need.