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To expect my counsellor to be helping me more?

(58 Posts)
user1480954406 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:25:10

I'm currently having counselling for historical child sex abuse/exploitation. I haven't dealt with it and I decided about a year ago that I needed to have counselling as I don't want to carry the sadness and anger I feel about it forever.

I'm on my third session and I'm starting to feel like it's not helpin, actually making it worse if anything. And my counsellor seems to just let me talk and then repeat what I've said back to me. I haven't been getting upset in the sessions at all and she says she thinks I've developed very strong strategies for keeping myself emotionally safe, and I actually get the feeling even she thinks that I don't need counselling? Like she's a bit like, you're coping really well... and yet you find yourself here?

I don't know, I kind of expected the counselling to go a bit different and to get a bit more advice/reassurance, but it's so awkward and there are loads of moments of weird silence.

Aibu to expect her to be saying more?

Bailey101 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:30:05

For something this huge I would imagine it would take quite a few sessions to start really seeing any changes.

Having said that though, if you don't feel as though you're meshing with the counsellor then maybe consider moving on to another one.

Are you able to speak with a few counsellors and find out about what they specialise in and that sort of thing?

It must be so hard for you to be taking this step, I really hope you're able to get the closure you need flowers

user1483981877 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:30:46

That is a hugely difficult one to answer OP. I think you are very brave to take yourself into therapy and I hope that you will find what you are looking for.
Reading what you have written, I would say that perhaps you could print out your thoughts and take them to your Counsellor before you decide how you want to proceed. I think blunt honesty may help you in the long run, far more than the advice you may get here.

pinkiepie1 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:31:27

As someone who has spent most of their life in therapy for one reason or another I have learnt that it takes a while - long while before you start to feel like you have made any progress.
And I've also found that sometimes it get worse before it gets better, bringing up all past issues/problems that have been buried for so long takes time... Give it a bit of time 3 sessions isn't that long to see an improvement. Hope that helps a little xx

Astoria7974 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:31:59

Counselling didn't work for me personally. Instead mindfulness, in particular techniques to allow me to live in the moment (instead of dwelling in the past), did. Try other therapies and find one that works for you

VladmirsPoutine Sat 04-Feb-17 12:34:40

Counselling and counsellors can vary hugely. It's not a one size fits all model so if you feel like you're not developing a relationship with your current one, you can always find another one.
I will add however, that it does take time to feel like you've made progress and often won't really 'get-it' until you've been engaged with it for a few sessions.
I wish you all the best, what you're dealing with is horrific.

ssd Sat 04-Feb-17 12:34:44

hi op, I'm sorry to read you suffered from this abuse and I've got no history of it myself, so what I'm about to post might be totally irrelevant. But I'll post anyway, it might help you a bit.

I had counselling for bereavement, through cruse, the bereavement counsellors. After the first session I thought "oh good, I've told them my story, when I go back he'll say something to me to make me feel better or tell me how to deal with this". But he didnt, he just sat and listened to me breaking my heart and going over the same stuff, over and over. I dont know if we had a great rapport, he just listened to me. But maybe, like you, I had to get it out first and hear myself before I could address anything. After the 3rd session I told him I was a bit angry that he hadnt made me better, he said it doesnt work like that, the answers all come from inside you, you just have to find them. And that made sense, I realised he couldnt make me better, nothing could, except me dealing with what had happened myself and coming to terms with it myself.

I dont know if any of this applies to you, but maybe just getting it out in a safe environment might be enough for you.

SmileEachDay Sat 04-Feb-17 12:37:17

IME it takes a little time for the counselling relationship to become secure. I'd give it a few more sessions.

Strategies for keeping yourself self safe is not code for "you don't need counselling" - it means that as a young, vulnerable person your brain did what it needed to stop you feeling what was going on too intensely for you to cope with.

To "deal with" the abuse, some of those strategies may need unpicking first - this can be extremely difficult to get through.

The counsellor role is not to advise, but to guide you safely through talking.
Of course, there is the possibility you don't "click" with your counsellor. That happens.

Best of luck, OP.

user1480954406 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:38:46

My counsellor is in her last year of training and she's a volunteer, it's through rape crisis and I had to wait 6m for the appointment. Do they normally do more than just listen and summarise?

I can't really afford anything private and the gp told me to self refer to rape crisis. I don't think I can refer to healthy minds as I don't have any mh issues other than just being really sad about what happened to me, and the fact that is still affecting me.

I do find mindfulness and yoga v therapeutic but a bit emotional, as I think I've built a big disconnect with my body and tuning into it and realising it's always been mine helps me heal, but is v cathartic I think.

Cornettoninja Sat 04-Feb-17 12:40:16

I've tried counselling a couple of times (for different issues to you) and always struggled with it. I think I want the kind you see on crappy TV where they give you an insightful spiel and demonstrate they 'get' you. Real life counselling isn't like that ime.

My understanding is that they're generally trying to lead the conversation in a way that will get you to open up or look at things from s different perspective. The questioning you think is judging you as not needing it sounds to me like she's trying to get you to approach your emotions and start a dialogue that can be explored in later sessions.

I would agree that you might need to find someone else you have more of a rapport with, but I would give it a couple more sessions.

With my last counsellor I asked him which methodology he used and how it worked. It helped me manage how to utilise my time with him and I did finish the sessions (limited through work) feeling like they had been of some use. Barely got close to the real issues in truth ( that's where I want someone magical to verbalise it to me) but perhaps with more sessions I would have got there.

blueredyellow Sat 04-Feb-17 12:41:37

What type of counselling are you having OP?

Different methods work in different ways, and different counsellors are trained in different techniques. It may be a simple case that you and the counsellor are not the "right fit".

It's rare for a counsellor to jump straight in and work with historical child abuse though, there are usually three phases to treatment, and the first is to establish safety mechanisms and coping mechanisms are in place. It's really important this is done properly. Just in case you were wondering why she isn't delving straight into things.

It's also totally normal that sometimes it feels like things are being made worse. Though you need to think about whether it's a "short-term this is going to be worse" scenario, or it isn't the right counsellor or type of counselling for you.

user1480954406 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:44:44


That's reassuring and I think probably the case.


I think that's potentially it. I said I felt weird that I wasn't getting upset in the sessions and she said she thinks I don't feel safe yet and I'll go home and process the session and be upset at home where I feel safe.

Also I think having children makes me feel much like I can't fall apart because I have to mum. So some days I feel like
I'm just waiting for them to go to bed so I can break without it affecting my ability to be their mummy.

SealSong Sat 04-Feb-17 12:53:32

I think many people really don't understand what counselling is. Person centred counselling such as this does not involve giving advice and reassurance. That would be to influence the client which the counsellor would never wish to do. The aim of counselling is mainly around offering confidential space for the client to talk about and reflect on whatever they order to perhaps process past events, develop greater understanding, find their own strengths and solutions...the counsellor will support and 'scaffold' that, but won't lead it. A person centered counsellor will not seek to be directive but will support the client in working towards their own goals.
Often in counselling it does make the client feel vulnerable or emotionally raw as feelings and past events come to the surface...this is to be expected, and is part of the process of healing sometimes.
People sometimes expect instant takes time, for things to come to the surface and for resolution and integration to happen.

OP I'm sorry if my post sounds like waffle. I'm not a counsellor but work in mental health along side counsellors. For you, I'd suggest airing your concerns directly with the counsellor, they should be able to discuss this with you and help you understand the process. I'd also urge you to give it more time (unless you feel it is significantly harmful to yourself). Good luck, and wishing you strength and courage.

user892 Sat 04-Feb-17 12:54:46

The talking therapy / person centres model of counselling is about listening and reflecting back. This can help clients offload and sometimes come up with their own solutions.

Ask her what the goals and objectives are, if you're not sure - it could be that you're still in the early stages, or it could be that 'this is it'.

If you're not happy that you have a clear treatment plan, you might find something more practical is a better fit, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or EMDR.

AlexandraEiffel Sat 04-Feb-17 13:03:45

I've found this with lots of counsellors. Just nodding, leaving long pauses. It isn't helpful for me.

However when has a really shitty situation when I was pregnant I had an absolutely brilliant counsellor. I hate to think what would have happened without her. She was much more proactive, suggested action, and actually did reflect stuff back to me, told me stuff she could ascertain from what I said about what might help or not. Perhaps it was different as it was an immediate crisis? I don't know. But the point of my post is to say I've had the same experience and agree with you. But it can't be the only counselling approach as I have had different.

ssd Sat 04-Feb-17 13:09:30

^^ this was my expectation of bereavement counselling, I thought, "they are the experts, they know what they are talking about, they'll be able to help me stop hurting and get better"....and I was angry and a bit peed off when they didnt have a magical solution....

ssd Sat 04-Feb-17 13:10:05

sorry, my post was to sealsong

RoughBeast Sat 04-Feb-17 13:31:07

I think quite a few people confuse 'counsellor' and 'life coach'. Crisis counselling can be different, as it may need to help a client reach a decision within a period of time (whether to terminate a pregnancy or not, say), but if what you want from counselling is advice and reassurance, OP, it may be that there is a genuine mismatch between your expectations and the counselling model (though of course these vary, and there is always the possibility that you simply aren't gelling with this person.)

When you imagined a counselling session before you started them, what did you imagine? What did you want the counsellor to say to you?

Tonkinese Sat 04-Feb-17 13:42:04

In my experience, there was a long time in which she listened and reflected back what I'd said or hadn't said in such a way as to pull out some themes or help me to understand myself and my experience more. Then we gradually moved to very practical aspects, setting out how to keep myself mentally well.
The one thing l really noticed was how much wisdom I've learned from her - people now comment on my wisdom, which they didn't before.

user1480954406 Sat 04-Feb-17 13:47:51

Don't know if this sounds self indulgent but I kind of feel like what I want is acknowledgement of the magnitude of what happened and smpathy?

user1480954406 Sat 04-Feb-17 13:49:03

Or like more reassurance that what happened wasn't my fault?

ilovesooty Sat 04-Feb-17 13:53:03

Did you talk about what you expected from counselling in the beginning and how your progress would be reviewed together?

user1480954406 Sat 04-Feb-17 14:00:37

She said I need to talk about things so that they can heal and that she's there to walk with me and explore, she said I'm leading it and most of what she does will be listening but she might prompt me to bring things forward if she feels like it's appropriate

teaforbreakfast Sat 04-Feb-17 14:01:39

I do think sometimes counselling can be neutral or even unhelpful, but I know that's not a popular view.

user892 Sat 04-Feb-17 14:03:18

user1480954406 - sounds like the relationship with your counsellor is lacking empathy and genuine rapport. This is crucial - though it may come for her with experience..

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