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Having Counselling, But Not Sure It's Helping.

(7 Posts)
Catinthebox Mon 22-Aug-11 11:37:25

Hi, I'm a first time poster, so hope I get it right!

My story is briefly this- about two years ago I went through a bit of a bad time- problems at work (and subsequently lost my job), my mum became ill and passed away, various upsets in the family. As a result I suffered a severe bout of depression, was on AD's and felt to have more or less come out the other side of it- I still suffer from anxiety and I just can't seem to get my life back on track (I have no job, feelings of low self esteem, lack of confidence)

I consider the way I am now to be quite normal after what has happened to me, but a few months ago I decided I was getting no further with any recovery on my own and though counselling might help- I think my problem is that I blame myself for the bad things that have happened to me and those around me, and I don't trust my own opinions any more.

I was assessed and placed with a counselor, and for a few sessions things seemed fine, but I've now had about 8 sessions and have to say in all honestly I feel much worse than before I started. I feel it's reaped a lot of bad memories up, but not helped resolve anything. I just feel to be spilling my guts every week, and she dosen't seem to get me- the feedback she gives often seems off the mark and very 'text book' and seems to back up my feelings that even I suspect are overly negative. She has missed a few sessions due to illness and that threw me a bit too- I feel she finds me boring. This week I was saying something about a male friend, basically I was trying to explain that I feel a lot of my friends avoid me because of me having had a breakdown- and part of her response was a comment on the appropriateness of a man talking to me when I am someones partner- which to me completely misses the point I was trying to make, and has made me question a lot of other things that have been said.

I've never had counselling before and don't know whats normal and I feel to have been left floundering when she could have offered more guidance- I feel that I'm getting nothing out of it because I'm doing it wrong. I feel much worse than I did two months ago and would just like to not go again, but I don't know how to get out of it- I haven't got the confidence to say 'you're not helping me, so I want to stop'.

Thankyou for reading such a long post, I'd be very grateful for any advice.

madmouse Mon 22-Aug-11 13:00:32

It is quite normal for counselling to make you feel worse first before you get better. Exactly because you open your painful places.

It sounds like you are talking to a person centred counsellor and perhaps not a very experienced one. But the point of person centred counselling is that they let you do the talking and help you explore what you are feeling without much guidance.

As I see it 2 or 3 things can be going on, possibly at the same time
1) bad match between you and her
2) wrong type of counselling for you
3) lack of understanding on your side of what counselling can do for you (a therapist is rarely there to offer guidance and solutions, more often to function as a mirror)

There is a lovely little book called 'Counselling for Toads', it doesn't cost much on Amazon and my therapist recommended it to me during our initial session. It was a help in understanding how it all worked. The title sounds silly, but that's because it is in a kind of story version based on the Wind in the Willows.

NanaNina Mon 22-Aug-11 13:40:09

I think you and the therapist are not the right match. As madmouse says you sometimes have to bring things out and feel the pain and learn how to make the emotional pain more manageable. It can't be done in a hurry. However the most important thing is the relationship between you and the therapist - and in your case, the r/ship ins't right. You don't trust her or find her credible and probably don't like her either!

I faffed about with a therapist for 3 months who I really disliked (twice per week so £90 a week) and my symptoms of dep and anxiety were getting worse and worse and we were talking about when I was 3. She was a psycho-dynamic therapist and interpreted from the words I was using and almost always the interpretation did not fit. When occasionally they did, they were very powerful. However the r/ship got worse and worse and I ended up just walking out of the last session as she was refusing to respond to what I was saying. A week later I took a nose dive and ended up on a psychiatric ward for 3 months.

SO my advice is don't waste any more time with this therapist. When you say you were assessed and "placed" with a counsellor was this through the NHS. If so they are unlikely to find another therapist. Can you afford to pay - sessions are usually between £45 and £50 per hour dependent on where you live.

Catinthebox Mon 22-Aug-11 16:14:13

Thankyou for your replies. I'm sorry to hear of you experience NanaNina.

The place I've been going to is partially funded by the NHS, but you still have to pay. The counsellor I see has a humanistic based approach- I think I had been thinking more about CBT- I didn't really want to rake over the past, I just wanted to be able to get back to a more normal way of functioning. I trusted when I went to be assesed that they would guide me in the right direction. I liked her well enough when I met her or I think I did- my self esteem is so low I suspect I was just thrilled someone was prepared to take me on. She is quite young, not sure how much experience she has.

I didn't know what to expect, but we seemed to settle into a pattern of me talking (a lot!) and then her offering her response. I have found it useful-I realise that most of my problems, such as getting a job, living somewhere I feel happy, are not things that are going to happen over night and might take years, but just to have some one listen helps, and I find it helps me get things straight in my own head when I hear what I say. I think the trust wobbled the first time she was off ill, and after the second time I've struggled to get back on track. I realise I tend to waffle a bit (because I feel uncomfortable) and then it does feel like I'm wasting her time. At my last session her input was about the money the sessions were costing me and what were we actually going to do about these problems- I've been a door mat and punch bag all my life, and how was I going to change that, and did I want to change it? I came away feeling dreadful. I can't remember if I've used those words to describe how I've felt in certain situations, (an alcoholic mother and a history of DV) and she was just mirroring them back at me, but in truth its not how I feel- on a bad day I do, but on a good day I feel like a normal, decent person who has just made some bad choices and had some bad experiences.

I think for now I would be better just ending it. I don't feel I want to see another person at the same place, and will certainly get the book you recomend Madmouse before even thinking of going somewhere else. Does anyone have any advice on how to leave counselling in the circumstances?

madmouse Mon 22-Aug-11 17:24:26

You can simply tell her that you do not want to continue - in person, on the phone or in writing. You do not have to give reasons if you don't want to.

SingleMan25b Sat 27-Aug-11 20:32:35

catinthebox your experience of counselling sounds almost the same as mine. I received person centred counselling where I was just allowed to talk, and talk, with no input from the councillor. I felt I was getting nowhere whilst raking up difficult memories from the past. In the end I stopped the sessions and went back to my GP who has sent me elsewhere for CBT.

Catinthebox Tue 30-Aug-11 23:47:28

Thanks SingleMan25b- it helps to know its not just me! Its really unhelpful to have all the bad stuff raked up in that small space of time, then just left playing on your mind again. I do think CBT is the way to go- I can't change what has happened in the past, I just want to get out of my negative attitude.

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