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To wonder if anybody has had counselling and doesn't sense a difference?

(46 Posts)
NotSureItsHelped Mon 18-May-15 21:16:53

Hello everyone - just hoping to hear others' experiences and to consider options I may not already have thought of.

My lovely Dad died last year. It was sudden and very shocking, and it also opened up a number of things for me from my childhood and adolescence that were in some ways quite traumatic although in other ways I have been very fortunate, of course.

Initially I coped well but contacted a counsellor in the early autumn. That wasn't the first time I'd tentatively approached counselling: had done so in 2007 and 2011 but felt that perhaps I 'hadn't committed' which seems to be the agreed view when counselling isn't felt to be helpful.

The problem is, I don't feel it is for me personally. And that leaves me in a difficult position as frequently I do feel very depressed and can see my life needs to change but the agreed response tends to be 'get counselling.'

I am wondering what happens when it just doesn't work for you?

MakeItRain Mon 18-May-15 21:20:28

Don't give up on the counselling yet. I've tried it in the past. One was great and one was completely useless! Maybe give someone else a try first?

MakeItRain Mon 18-May-15 21:21:49

Also, I'm really sorry to hear about your dad and the things that triggered. flowers

UncertainSmile Mon 18-May-15 21:23:29

Some counsellors and therapists are better than others. Sometimes it can take a while to find one that you click with. It can often be a slow and difficult process too.

Sothisishowitfeels Mon 18-May-15 21:26:19

My doctor reffered me for anxiety I. It is 6 weeks In total and I am 3 weeks in . so far it is a complete and utter waste of time. The appointments are 40 minutes and she starts with a 10 minute run through about 4 questionnaires. She then hands me a load of print outs about anxiety which are worded in a way that makes it seem like they are aimed at 5 year olds. They even have helpful cartoon people.

She then reads out the leaflets to me.

Last week was particularly good she spent most of the session telling I should go for a boxercise class, I am pregnant and have a toddler in the day....

UncertainSmile Mon 18-May-15 21:27:16

My therapist is bloody great; I wouldn't be without her at the moment.

LesserOfTwoWeevils Mon 18-May-15 21:27:51

Hi OP, I'd been thinking of starting a similar thread. I have had several different kinds of counselling and it hasn't helped.

Sorry to hear about the loss of your dad and that as well as the grief you've had to deal with the issues it raised.

In my case the issue is dealing with the long-term aftereffects of an emotionally abusive/neglectful childhood that have left me with crippling social anxiety, complex PTSD and chronic, severe loneliness.

Counsellors have spent a long time digging up events from my childhood, rummaging through them, asking me, "And how do you feel about that?" and pointing out how similar present situations trigger the same feelings in me now.

I know all that. I know how I felt, I know why I feel the way I do now. Knowing I didn't deserve to be treated like that, or being told,"No, you're not worthless" doesn't make it go away, or help me deal with situations I can't deal with, or stop me being petrified of people.

I know I need to change things, but knowing that doesn't show me how to make it happen or make me feel any different.

Digging up the past just makes me more unhappy because it makes me feel I'm broken and can't be fixed.

I'd love to hear from other people who have been helped by counselling as to how they've approached it differently or the techniques they've been offered that have made a difference.

CrohnicallyInflexible Mon 18-May-15 21:27:57

I've had counselling and CBT on and off since my teenage years. It seems to help in the short term, but after a period of a couple of years or so I seem to slip backwards again.

When you say counselling, do you mean you've just tried straight counselling or have you tried other branches of talking therapies like CBT? Because if you haven't already, you could try a different talking therapy.

I have also had some success with antidepressants. Again they have had a short term boost, I have tried 3 different ones and while 1 seemed to reduce all my emotions, the one I'm on now has definitely reduced the negative emotions while allowing me to feel positive ones.

But the biggest eye opener was realising that I do indeed have an ASD- it's something I've thought about on and off since first seeking help for my mental health as a teenager, but only plucked up the courage a decade later. When I received my diagnosis I was also told categorically that I am not clinically depressed, even though the majority of screening tools pick me up. The depression is a symptom of my AS, it isn't an illness in itself, which explains why counselling hasn't been that helpful.

So I'm wondering if you could also have an underlying condition- not AS necessarily, but some sort of neurological or even physical condition that could be contributing to your depression?

NotSureItsHelped Mon 18-May-15 21:28:22

I can absolutely see that trying someone else is a good suggestion, but I have tried three different counsellors now and I stayed with the last one for eight months. Absolutely lovely people but I do think three 'goes' is enough to conclude that perhaps it is not for me.

NotSureItsHelped Mon 18-May-15 21:30:07

Lesser, thank you, you have summed up my own thoughts quite succinctly.

Crohn I have only accessed 'normal' counselling. I have looked into CBT but don't feel it's especially appropriate for me

Jessica2point0 Mon 18-May-15 21:30:19

I've had counselling three times to deal with "one-off" problems. I found counselling a bit helpful, but I'm seeing a cognitive behaviour therapist at the moment, which is much better. He's helping my find techniques to deal with the underlying anxiety rather than just dealing with the immediate problem.

MyCatHasStaff Mon 18-May-15 21:32:18

I had two bouts of counselling with the same counsellor. The first time, she really helped to change my perspective on some major events in my past, and it helped me to move forward.
The second time, the thing I was depressed and anxious about couldn't be changed, and my perspective on it made no tangible difference. She did agree that the issue I was dealing with was very real and my worry about it justified, so not much she could do.
I'm sorry for the loss of your dad, and counselling won't change the fact of his passing. It may help you to deal with some stuff from the past though, so I suppose what I'm saying is, are you using the counselling for the things it can help?

DampAndRotten Mon 18-May-15 21:32:38

Crohnically - what is ASD (sorry to be thick!)

hedgehogsdontbite Mon 18-May-15 21:32:45

There's a variety of different types of counselling and counsellors. It may be that you haven't had the right type.

I remember the first one I saw. She used to just sit there and let me talk. It was awful. I was so embarassed and just rabbited on about nothing to fill in the silence.

I found CBT quite helpful. Especially because it's a 'tool' you can use yourself.

NotSureItsHelped Mon 18-May-15 21:34:00

I am not currently having counselling, but I certainly didn't just speak about my dad in it when I did.

CrohnicallyInflexible Mon 18-May-15 21:36:52

damp Autistic Spectrum Disorder- in my case Asperger's Syndrome (AS).

hedgehogsdontbite Mon 18-May-15 21:37:13

Crohnically - I was the same. The counselling eventually led me to the path to an ASD diagnosis. That is what made the biggest difference to me.

hedgehogsdontbite Mon 18-May-15 21:39:44

LesserOfTwoWeevils - Have you tried EMDR?

Branleuse Mon 18-May-15 21:42:24

Ive had counselling a few times and whilst it was therapeutic and good to talk things through, it didnt help me sort stuff out in my head particularly.
I had psychotherapy a couple of years ago though, and that brought me a good few lightbulb moments and was instrumental in me getting my shit together and understand myself, which led to me being able to finally come off ADs etc

LesserOfTwoWeevils Mon 18-May-15 21:50:33

Yes, hedgehogs, I had a few sessions but struggled to think of specific horrible incidents to "work on." I just had these drab memories of years of solitude and unhappiness.

And tbh I found it very hard to accept that watching someone wave their fingers in front of my face could suddenly dispel patterns of thinking and feeling that have been recurring for decades.

Then there was the lady who counted while I thought about unpleasant memories. Nope.

When that didn't work she tried being more practical. I said I struggled to make conversation with people. So she took me on a tour of the building and we had a conversation. Voila, I was supposed to realise with a blinding flash that actually I am capable of having a conversation. As though one stilted talk with someone I am paying to talk to me is going to convince me that I can have scintillating chats with complete strangers and become great friends with them any time I want.


Imustgodowntotheseaagain Mon 18-May-15 22:05:38

It's not just you. I had a counsellor who told me that panic attacks were "just something I should learn to live with" and perhaps I should take a valium and get over myself, when we'd already discussed that I had an Actual Suicide Plan and that was why I would never, ever go and acquire the drugs that would facilitate it.

Have you considered something non-verbal, like art therapy? The thing that set me free was psychodrama. It sounds ridiculously "woo" but bypassing words and acting out scenarios, or arranging toys and objects, actually helped me open some doors and exorcise some demons that hadn't been shifted by years of talking.

hedgehogsdontbite Mon 18-May-15 22:06:23

And tbh I found it very hard to accept that watching someone wave their fingers in front of my face could suddenly dispel patterns of thinking and feeling that have been recurring for decades.

That's what I thought too. It also freaked me out a bit as I felt a bit threatened by having something waved in my face.

manicinsomniac Mon 18-May-15 22:13:06

I totally agree with you.

I've had huge amounts of therapy - on and off from the age of 13 - for anorexia, bulimia, self harm, cyclothymia, possible personality disorders etc etc. None of it has made a blind bit of difference. When I've made improvements in my life it's because I've been ready to and decided to, not because I told someone about it.

I just can't get over the idea that a stranger can know more about me that I do. And I don't see how I can tell someone I don't know things I wouldn't even tell my sister or closest friends. I clam up completely and either sit in silence or babble hysterically about mundane, irrelevant things.

The worst one was a psychiatrist in an inpatient clinic who gave me rocks to play with and told me imagine they were members of my family - ummmm, no thank you!

I genuinely don't believe counselling is helpful for everyone.

If it works for you (general you), great. But, as far as I'm concerned, it's empty psychobabble

RubieWoo Mon 18-May-15 22:13:23

I've had it with counsellors and therapists. I have/had anxiety and depression and I find that understanding the brain and behaviour has helped me a LOT more than any of the 'professionals' I've seen in the last 6 years.

olgaga Mon 18-May-15 22:16:05

Go to your GP. It's not uncommon, particularly if you have issues arising from your childhood, to need more than a talking therapy.

Serotonin levels and re-uptake can also be an issue, sometimes hereditary, that no amount of talking can overcome thanks .

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