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To think counselling isn't always the answer to any problem

(111 Posts)
Cheesenredonion Wed 10-Jun-15 16:13:56

Any problem relating to low self esteem or difficulties in childhood, that is.

I wish people would acknowledge that firstly counselling is out of reach of most people due to the cost. I know it is available on the NHS in some areas, but this tends to be for limited periods (it's 6 sessions here) and there's a long waiting list.

Plus, although depression and anxiety are medical issues some problems are not. Having a difficult childhood isn't, having slightly low self esteem isn't, and so on.

It's not always easy to get to if you have young children and/or don't drive.

Also, is it effective for everybody? I'm concerned as I feel counselling is, to be blunt, the new cure-all, but I don't think it's helpful for everybody but every problem on here at the moment - 'get counselling!'

I have had counselling which I didn't feel was enormously helpful, but this isn't saying it is never helpful - it's saying its a possibility amongst other possibilities.

Theycallmemellowjello Wed 10-Jun-15 16:17:22

I think it is true that people regard it as a cure-all, and agree that it is expensive. But I think that it is the best option for many people as well. No, it's not an answer in itself, but it's often the best way for people to find the answer themselves. But I agree, CBT (even self administered), support groups and medication are cheaper options that can also be useful.

lilacblossomtime Wed 10-Jun-15 16:19:39

Yes the real answer to nearly all problems in life is LTB (only half joking).

Bonsoir Wed 10-Jun-15 16:20:31

Counselling can be very helpful if it allows you to dump pain/anger/guilt and other destructive emotions and/or if it allows you to identify and acknowledge the cause of your anxiety/depression/stress so that you can walk away from them and make better life choices.

chickensaresafehere Wed 10-Jun-15 16:22:12

I agree it doesn't work for everyone.
But CBT changed my life.

Gottagetmoving Wed 10-Jun-15 16:22:21

You can't know if counselling is any use unless you try it and even then, you need to be ready for it so just because it doesn't seem to work now it could at a later date.
I had counselling years ago and it helped enormously. I do think you need more than 6 sessions though.

Cheesenredonion Wed 10-Jun-15 16:23:17

I have a huge problem with the 'ready for it' line.

PeaceOfWildThings Wed 10-Jun-15 16:23:54

I don't think it is a cure all, I think it is one part of a set of things that can help, and that once a person has got as far as counselling, they would have had relevant blood tests, any related follow up, offer of ADs if relevant and the chance to go on NHS courses to help reconsidet lifestyle choices or how bettwr to manage low mood and other psychological problems.

APlaceOnTheCouch Wed 10-Jun-15 16:24:14

I don't think it's the answer to every problem but I think it can help with quite a number of issues. Not all NHS areas have a long waiting list for counselling and not all private counsellors are expensive. There are lots of different types of counselling and different ways to access it from emails to telephone calls so imo it's actually more accessible than it's ever been.

Also because there are so many different schools of counselling and so many different counsellors then it's understandable that you might have felt it wasn't enormously helpful but could find other types more helpful.

Sometimes on MN, suggesting counselling is a gentle way of proposing to the OP that they need to start by looking at themselves to address the issues raised rather than waiting for other people to change. That realisation on it's own can be very worthwhile even if they don't undertake counselling after it.

Gottagetmoving Wed 10-Jun-15 16:26:34

I have a huge problem with the 'ready for it' line


Cheesenredonion Wed 10-Jun-15 16:32:48

Because it puts any 'failure' on the part of the counselling with the individual being counselled - oh, they say, you weren't ready for it, you weren't engaging with it, you didn't want to change.

Because it reminds me of religion - if you really believe ...

Because it means people can claim counselling always works if someone is ready for it.

ChaiseLounger Wed 10-Jun-15 16:36:44

I think it is seen as a cure-for-all these days. Got a problem? Oh well AD's or CBT is the answer to everything, or so it would seem that most GP's think.

I have been for all of it. And it has been agreed that none of it helps my particular issue.

I think it is being too heavily relied upon.

intolerantbitch Wed 10-Jun-15 16:36:48

I agree with the 'ready for it' being used all too often, as a mahoosive cop out by a useless counseller.

It's one of the few services you pay for where there is very, very limited accountability.

That said, I am in fact a fan of good therapy. It's just that it's very hard to find a good therapist.

Theycallmemellowjello Wed 10-Jun-15 16:39:45

Yeah, I see what you mean cheese.

I think that it is actually extremely difficult the efficacy of counselling both because it requires input from both patient and counsellor (meaning as you say the failings of the counsellor can easily be pushed onto the patient) and because the goals are often so vague that it's hard to tell whether any changes in the future are due to the counselling or to lifestyle changes, increased maturity, or any number of other things. This is especially true because once someone has decided to go to counselling, they are probably quite keen to make a change in their life and so are likely to be making an effort in other ways as well.

However, I think that counselling is unlikely to be harmful, and even if it's hard to pinpoint the benefits in any particular case, when you look at its effect on a large number of people it does appear to be positive.

sleepyhead Wed 10-Jun-15 16:42:37

I think the type of counselling needs to be right (not CBT as a one size fits all); also the counsellor/client needs to be a good match - can be difficult; also the time/location/cost has to be right.

Dh got a few sessions of CBT-style counselling, but they didn't "click", it was hard to get to, and it finished because his sessions were up, not because he was "better". Not particularly useful.

However, I think he could majorly benefit from other types of counselling, probably pretty long term. We can't afford it though.

funkybuddah Wed 10-Jun-15 16:48:40

My partner had person centred counselling and found it crap, then he had cbt and his life changed. He found the one that worked for him.
I'm training to be a counsellor and I don't believe it's the answer to everything.

MamanOfThree Wed 10-Jun-15 16:51:38

I would also question what do you mean by counselling?
There are so many types of counselling. CBT isn't the same thing that having psychotherapy for example or using art.

In that way a blanket statement isn't helping.

I do think, though, that when people mention counselling it's usually because they think about a one to one session that will help you entangle some of the issues you have or to see thiungs for they are.

I had counselling myself and didn't find it particularly helpful. I didn't get to the bottom of my issue at all. And at some point, a comment from the counsellor took me into a tail spin .... in the last session just before she was going away on hols and I couldn't see her for 3 weeks.
On the other side, I've seen CBT making a hell of a lot of difference to a few people, usually because they were suffering from anxiety but had no idea what the symptoms were and no idea of basic ways to deal with it.

manicinsomniac Wed 10-Jun-15 17:00:03

I totally agree it doesn't work for everyone.

It's a load of psychobabble bull in my opinion. I just can't wrap my head around how it's helpful. And I've had a lot in my past.

MajorasMask Wed 10-Jun-15 17:10:46

My mum was very against counselling/talking with a therapist, felt it a wishy-washy way of dealing with things. The thing is, she was repressing so much and dealing with new things at the same time, and eventually she decided to take the NHS offered sessions. She's really changed in the 2 years since she started counselling and admitted that when I had it as a teenager she thought it a waste of time! She's struggling with money but if she needs to go again I will always help her to find enough for a couple of sessions.

I do agree that 'ready for it' puts a lot of pressure and blame on the person who needs help if it doesn't work. I tried an online/phone based CBT course which was so different to just talking with someone. The 'homework' sheets actually triggered my anxiety because I felt worried I was going to be kicked off if I wasn't up for analysing and writing down everything I felt, and it was also a bit patronising. If I could find talking therapy again I'd love that but the waiting list is longer than 12 months IIRC.

Something I really enjoyed was the Self Care Journal by Rachelle Abellar. It's kind of similar to CBT but without 'reporting' to someone, you fill in the book at your own pace and there's wordsearches/colouring as well as ways to find your own coping mechanisms.

I think if you're dealing with MH problems as I have for most of my life now you try and figure out what you prefer, what is comfortable, and if it doesn't work out then that's just a sign to find something more suitable. It's definitely not for others to say 'You failed, you didn't engage properly'.

KingTut Wed 10-Jun-15 17:14:26


Gottagetmoving Wed 10-Jun-15 17:22:55


Having to be ready for it,...means before you decide to go for it. It doesn't mean go and failing!
Even if you do go and it doesn't help, it's not wasted. It can start a healing.

Cheesenredonion Wed 10-Jun-15 17:25:32

I'm afraid Gotta I strongly disagree.

The implication is that it will work - that it can't not; the only possible reason why it might not is because of reticence or 'not ready' on the part of the person going.

iammargesimpson Wed 10-Jun-15 18:31:23

Having just finished a counselling course, I agree that it isn't the answer for everyone or every problem but it can be helpful for some people to sort things out in their head and then outline goals and ways to achieve those goals. The counsellor does not provide the answers, it's up to the client to work out what is right for them and the counsellor acts as a support and guide and helps them work through various options.

I think it's best used as part of a 'tool kit', alongside medication if prescribed, exercise, healthy living, taking time for yourself, etc. there's lots of different types of therapy out there, it's finding the one that works for you is the problem!

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Wed 10-Jun-15 18:34:17

I agree with Chicken.

holdyourown Wed 10-Jun-15 19:28:15

It must work better for some people than others depending how they like to process things? Having said that there are various types CBT psychotherapy etc all different. It can change peoples lives for the better though and enable them to live life to the full and become more balanced and self accepting. It won't necessarily solve problems it depends what they are. But it could help the person to see different angles and solutions rather than being stuck in one mode of thinking.

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