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To ask if counselling really does make a difference?

(35 Posts)
PIVOTT Mon 04-Mar-19 12:38:35

I'm sceptical purely because I can't imagine myself feeling differently about my situation right now no matter how many times I go over it with someone.

Recently going through a lot with fertility issues and miscarriages and it's been suggested to me quite a lot that I try some form of counselling to help me with my anxiety.

I struggle a lot with anxiety about all sorts of situations but particularly health and my relationship and I just feel unable to love or even like myself at all at the moment. I feel completely uncomfortable in my own body now because of the problems I'm having and if I'm honest, I pretty much hate myself right now.

I've looked into it and privately it seems so expensive. I could speak with my GP but I imagine (and remember from previous experience) the waiting list would be huge anyway.

Those of you that have had it before for whatever reasons, was it beneficial and were you glad you spent the money in the end?

AnotherEmma Mon 04-Mar-19 12:40:42


Yes, counselling can definitely help with all the issues you describe.

It's worth talking to your GP and getting on the waiting list is surely better than not getting on it.

There are other options too, see

M4J4 Mon 04-Mar-19 12:42:53

OP, you don't need to speak to your GP.

You can go via the NHS therapies page. They will contact you themselves.

Birdsgottafly Mon 04-Mar-19 12:43:35

I had it when I became disabled, I was going to get better, but my mobility and appearance were really poor.

Counselling was based on acceptance, dealing with the anxiety and focusing on the positives of my life.

It kept me going. It helped me deal with my stupid, failing body and gave me hope for the future.

The waiting list might not be as long as you think. There are various charity providers as well, such as miscarriage advisory services etc that might help.

Birdsgottafly Mon 04-Mar-19 12:45:01

My Counsellor also gave me worksheets with, overcoming anxiety, techniques on.

They really helped during the night.

TeaforTwoBiscuitOrThree Mon 04-Mar-19 12:48:41

Yes, worth every second.

PrincessButtockUp Mon 04-Mar-19 12:49:26

I self-referred to Ieso Health because they offer an NHS service in my area. It helped me immensely. I am not free of anxiety but I understand my reactions and my abilities to cope better than I did before. Maybe you could frame it as an act of self care? I wish you well on your journey whether you go for it or not.

ILoveBray Mon 04-Mar-19 12:50:40

Absolutely it worked for me. Only helpful if you find a good counsellor who specialises in the area you need help with and you click with.

Babdoc Mon 04-Mar-19 12:52:11

It depends on two things, OP.
1) Finding the right counsellor. Someone who you can trust, who understands your problems, and who has a clear professional plan and goals for dealing with them.
2) Being prepared and willing yourself, to engage with the process.
Of the two, the second is often the harder. We tend to cling on to our coping mechanisms even when they don’t work, and it is difficult to let go and try a new approach.

I suffered debilitating anxiety after my depressed DD hanged herself. She survived, but I lived in terror of a repetition. I was off work for 5 weeks with stress and anxiety. Counselling was a game changer for me. A combination of CBT and relaxation therapy got me functioning and back to work.
Please go for it. It’s far more effective than you can imagine.

Fatbutt Mon 04-Mar-19 12:54:03

Counselling did absolutely nothing for me (may have been the counsellor though, she was outraged on my behalf so I found myself reassuring her every session!), was referred to a CBT/Mindfulness course via the GP and that really helped, got worksheets and a folder of resources that I have referred back to a few times since.

SanFranBear Mon 04-Mar-19 12:56:49

I self referred (as recommended up thread) and whilst I was there, I really wasn't sure how much it was helping. I was in a Group environment so wasn't focussed primarily on me which worked for me.

However, I realised about a week after my last session that I felt just so much different - whilst my situation hadn't changed, how I reacted did and whilst I played lip-service to the counselling, it clearly had gone in and made a big difference.

Also, knowing I was actively doing something to help me also seemed to lessen my anxiety in the weeks leading up to my first session.

I would recommend it for sure - and I was very sceptical (despite being a Psychology Major at uni)

PIVOTT Mon 04-Mar-19 12:59:57


I'm my own worse enemy with stuff like this. I've convinced myself that it won't make a difference without actually trying. It's because I can't see how it would but then, I'm not an expert so!

I do think I'll try it. This self referral sounds like the best way, I may have a look into it.

MrsPeacockDidIt Mon 04-Mar-19 13:03:37

I had counselling via GP referral following a full term stillbirth. It was immensely helpful for all sorts of reasons. It gave me a space to talk about my grief without having to think about the other persons feelings like you do when talking to friends for example. She also gave me ideas of how to think of things from a different point of view which helped me move forward. I think counselling can be great but won't help everyone with everything. I'm just very glad it helped me.

SheeshazAZ09 Mon 04-Mar-19 13:05:01

I had a couple of sessions after a breakup and found it helpful--mainly the counsellor just gave me permission to not feel guilty. Sounds trivial but it was important at the time. In the longer term I have found meditation has helped lessen anxiety. I do Transcendental Meditation but there are other methods too.

userschmoozer Mon 04-Mar-19 13:11:27

I've had talking therapy and then CBT, and they really changed my life. I hated counselling a lot of the time, talking about myself seemed the most useless thing I could do, until it 'clicked'.

If you have a problem and you've tried to solve it but can't, then doing more of the same wont help. Try something different. It's not guaranteed to solve your problem, but it might lead you to the solution you need.

Footsall Mon 04-Mar-19 13:13:30

I found it really helpful.

You will be offered CBT therapy for anxiety which is different from counselling in that it does not focus on what has happened but instead focuses on the behaviours that you do that lead to anxiety. If you are facing a particularly bad time and feel anxious this might be a normal level in relation to what you are currently going through. However if you are focused on past events and this lead to ruminating, a fear of the future, negative speaking patterns, a fear of certain situations etc., then the CBT helps you to challenge these behaviours. It also taught me that anxiety is inevitable in certain situations and when to recognise this and when to realise that it is my behaviour and negative patterns that is contributing to the anxiety.

You can also self refer via the NHS. I did this and had my first appointment within a couple of weeks.

In short it was the best thing that I have ever done for myself.

Footsall Mon 04-Mar-19 13:19:00

Can I also tell you something that was fundamental in my recovery. It was so simple and I want to share it with you in light of your explanation on your recent troubles. Sorry if it does not apply.

I was asked this:

If someone - a friend or family member came to you and told you they were having the same problems that you currently face, What advice would you give them? Would you tell them they were undeserving or worthless or whatever it is that bothers you?

Of course you wouldn’t so why on earth would you tell yourself those things! A thought is just a thought, it has no power over you. Take your own advice. What would you say?

This helped me so much

riotlady Mon 04-Mar-19 13:20:36

Absolutely yes, working with a good counsellor can make such a difference. I saw one privately when the NHS failed to support me and I can honestly say that she saved my life.
(And I later moved to a different area and had great support from the NHS community mental health team there)

PIVOTT Mon 04-Mar-19 13:23:15

However if you are focused on past events and this lead to ruminating, a fear of the future, negative speaking patterns, a fear of certain situations etc

This is what I do definitely. I was never this anxious before the problems I've been having but my anxiety is not always surrounding that situation. I have serious anxiety over my relationship now which I never had before because I just can't accept that DH could love me. Even though he's nothing but wonderful I keep myself awake at night and can't eat sometimes from worrying that he's going to leave, constantly seeking reassurance from him etc... I'm a bit of a nightmare at the moment.

I'm going to take a look this afternoon I think.

pocketdelia Mon 04-Mar-19 13:24:28

OP Google low cost therapy in your area. I have had £5 sessions for a year in the past. There are many charitable and social therapists who offer this, and also training colleges where you can see a postgraduate therapist.

AnotherEmma Mon 04-Mar-19 13:39:20

I just want to add that the NHS "psychological well-being service" that you can self-refer to is basically CBT. That can be very helpful for depression and anxiety as it's about techniques as PPs have said. But it's not talking therapy, you don't get to talk about your experiences and feelings like in regular counselling. I think both types have their merits and it's worth thinking about what would be most beneficial to you atm, maybe you need both and if it was me I'd probably do regular counselling first and then CBT and/or mindfulness.

Youvegotafriendinme Mon 04-Mar-19 13:39:51

Couldn’t agree more with @ILoveBray.
I’ve had counselling over the years which didn’t work for me at all. Think 18 year old dealing with childhood issues being counselled by a 60+ year old man who thought my ‘issues’ were teenage angst.

I had to have CBT due to PTSD after having my DS and the woman I had was amazing. She really knew how to help me and to deal with my separation anxiety and give me coping techniques. Find the right person and they can help you and give you the right tools to help yourself. flowers

AnotherEmma Mon 04-Mar-19 13:41:44

ps I should have said that in CBT you don't get to talk about your experiences and feelings in depth, of course you do talk about them a bit but it's very practical and task based rather than exploring feelings and reassuring/validating you which you get more in regular counselling.

Footsall Mon 04-Mar-19 13:45:49

CBT is def a process that I was unsure about to begin with.
when we have anxiety, it is normally linked to our core beliefs that we have had as a child. These don’t change as they are so embedded in us but CBT helps us challenge the beliefs and how they affect us now.

For me, one of my core beliefs turned out to be that “I am ALONE responsible for everything that happens” (it is only through CBT that I realised this) and when I had children I took on the responsibility for them. this core belief then encourage certain behaviours and I was taking responsibility for everything and having anxiety about everything. I literally had attacks over the little things thinking it will affect my child’s future. I worried about what people thought in case is damaged my children in the future and my social anxiety got bad. I didn’t realise this until I had the CBT, I just knew I felt down and didn’t want to go out.

My councillor explained to me that we all have core beliefs and that it takes something to trigger it. In my case having my first child 16 years ago was the trigger.

So the CBT will help you explore all of this.

When I first started the CBT I thought is was pointless. No-one could tell me if I was doing the right thing by my family and my behaviour was to cover all basis (negative behaviours and constantly thinking or talking it through hoping to find reason) No-one can predict the future right? And so my response was to constantly reason with myself and make myself ill with anxiety.

Now I feel after therapy that these things could happen. BUT they won’t be my fault! I am a lovable person and things that happen will be out of my control and I will need to deal with them IF they happen. But IF is not my current reality.

So I know you have real fears at the moment and it won’t change that, but it will change how you see your responsibility to them.

Sparklesocks Mon 04-Mar-19 13:54:13

I had some for a phobia and found it life changing. I thought I knew myself very well, but I found myself discovering things I’d never known. Sometimes talking things through, out loud, in a safe and non judgemental environment, can really help clarify your thoughts and how you feel.
I found I cried a lot, I wasn’t even upset as such, it was more the sheer release of finally talking about things I’d never revealed to anyone before. The tears were like a cathartic release. I always felt very drained straight afterwards, but then immediately lighter.

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