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to think counselling is not always helpful?

(26 Posts)
walkingonthebeach Fri 14-Oct-11 21:37:09

Please don't jump down my throat on this one, as I know that for some people it has been a life-saver.

I have tentaively approached counselling before on two occasions because I know I have some sadness still over my mum's death years ago and also because I've never been in a relationship despite being 31 (the two things are linked strange as that may sound) however I have found counselling completely ineffective for me.

I don't know if I'm alone with this. My dad certainly agrees and believes that a lot of problems are actually caused rather than solved by counselling. I don't know if I'd go that far but certainly my counsellor did seem to think I should voice my feelings a lot even if this resulted in hurt for others.

Just wondered what other people's take on this was?

Gigondas Fri 14-Oct-11 21:41:01

Maybe you don't need counselling- but some other kind of therapy.

Reading this I think you have maybe used counselling in wrong way as it sounds if you are seeing a link that something that helps unlock the link might be better (eg psycho therapy).

Also Aibu is possibly not the place to voice this as its a fairly robust sort of place - if you don't want people to jump down your throat (as you call if) relationships or other thread may offer another

ilovesooty Fri 14-Oct-11 21:41:17

You may not have been ready to commit to counselling. The counsellor or counselling model might not have been right for you. You might not have explored what you were hoping to gain from the process or contracted effectively. There are any number of reasons why it didn't help you: not necessarily the fault of you or the counselling itself.

FabbyChic Fri 14-Oct-11 21:42:33

I didnt find it helpful for anxiety. I would have found the Schema Therapy great for my BPD but I had to give it up, or not have a job, so I gave up the therapy.

Fatshionista Fri 14-Oct-11 21:43:57

Counselling alone may not be right for you. A counsellor can't voice their own opinions or give their own advice and in turn just rehashes what you've told them. CBT may be an option for you.

walkingonthebeach Fri 14-Oct-11 21:44:19

I didn't mean the fault was counselling itself. I suppose a better comparison might be that an operation can work wonders for one person and be completely ineffectual on another - same with MH issues. And, perhaps, that sometimes it is possible to stir up problems in the guise of 'addressing' them. I don't really want to try therapy as such to be honest but it is hard at times as "get some counselling" seems to be something of a stock answer to everything, if you see what I mean.

aldiwhore Fri 14-Oct-11 21:46:16

I think a 'one style fits all' counselling is useless over the whole spectrum of people who need help and their needs.

Person centred/listening counselling rocks for some people, for others, they need more structure so CBT is often better for them.

My dad needed a structured approach to dealing with his stress/anxiety and so CBT worked wonders. My mum just needed to talk, be listened to, and to find her own answers, so person centred counselling was the best fit (not sure of its exact title)... unfortunately, only the person centred approach was available on the NHS, and only for a maximum of 6 sessions... so neither of them gbot the results they needed on the NHS.

Don't write it off completely.

troisgarcons Fri 14-Oct-11 21:47:49

A good councellor only listens and makes you work out your own solutions.

You can do that with good friends. Or in your own mind.

No one can find solutions for you - tha comes from within.

Im sorry you are still grieve so badly for your mum.

walkingonthebeach Fri 14-Oct-11 21:48:44

Oh not at all aldiwhore, I totally accept that it's great for some people but for me it wasn't. It wasn't bad or anything, but it made no difference and was a bit of a waste of cash to be honest! I don't think therapy is for me full stop if I'm truthful, I'm quite practical in my approach and am able to find and focus on solutions but there are some things there just aren't solutions for, I suppose. Difficult!

Madmartigan Fri 14-Oct-11 21:49:34

Deffy deffy doh doze not always the best thing. I've tried all sorts over the years and started meditation recently - loving it. Anxiety much better.

Points to note, I'm not a doctor and don't know your situation. Meditation doesn't claim to an instant fix or therapy and I go to a class, I don't just at home trying to think of nothing. Class is all pretty much all women who want relief from anxiety. I take the angel cards with a pinch of salt though.

Gigondas Fri 14-Oct-11 21:50:19

Therapy doesnt stir up problems but helps you face and contain them . But aldiwhore and others make good point about if being right type of counselling and counsellor to suit.

Madmartigan Fri 14-Oct-11 21:50:24

Oh, and meditation not free but a darn sight cheaper than therapy.

Birdsgottafly Fri 14-Oct-11 21:51:14

It sounds as though you have had 'person centered therapy' which is what you would start off with to 'picture build', but not necessarily continue with if this wasn't the school of thought needed, another name is 'humanistic', i personally feel that this can be 'self indulgent' and ignore the needs of others, or the need to function in society.

There are many different forms of counselling, it is a matter of finding what works, or rather doesn't work, for you.

It doesn't cause more problems than it solves, but it does need to be carefully done as it stirs up feelings. A good counsellor will be led by the client.

walkingonthebeach Fri 14-Oct-11 21:54:20

You see Gigondas whilst I accept that obviously that's the intention I do feel sometimes it can have the effect of stirring up old upsets/anxieties and a few people I have spoken to have said the same - of course I am not a doctor either though. I think that although I feel sad about some things that happened I am now at peace with them but counselling kept going over and over them. It wasn't productive or helpful - for me - not saying this is the case for everybody!

aldiwhore Fri 14-Oct-11 21:57:56

walkingonthebeach, apart from your name making me homesick, I don't disgaree at all. I just think... well there are many ways to help with many things, and not all work for everyone all the time, though all of them work for some people some of the time...?

I GUESS its like (trying to apply logic to my own life) trying to find a diet that works for you, all diets work, fact. NO diet works for everyone. So the statement 'diets don't work' is untrue, though its absolutely true that one diet doesn't work for everyone every time.

I don't believe there are solutions for everything. Sometimes the best you can achieve is acceptance and management? There are certain things in my life I will never be free of, but being able to manage them is the difference between them controlling me thus having no life and me managing them and living life.

How to achieve that... shit I wish I knew the answer. It kind of came naturally to me out of pure boredom of the subject matter via endless repetition to myself (and years of heartache for those close to me!) so I cannopt offer solution. Maybe SOME kind of therapy would be of use, not with solution as the goal, but acceptance? No idea what that would be though!

Gigondas Fri 14-Oct-11 22:00:28

Therapy is different in process and aim than counselling. Yes it does stir up horrible things but a good therapist helps you through that to contain and live with those feelings. To give an example I couldn't have gone through 2 pregnancies after losing a baby without it but part of that did involve feeling therapy did stir up things I would rather not look at. I was tempted to stop/ wonder what point was but There was a wooing and that's not to make those things less painful but how they are linked to other horrible things and how to live with and face them. But I had to keep going to get there.

But if you feel sad but can live with things maybe counselling isn't what you need but some other way of managing your feelings - the meditation idea sounds good. But I can't say I agree counselling is unhelpful - it's just it clearly isn for you.

Birdsgottafly Fri 14-Oct-11 22:00:59

OP a counsellor will only, sum up or clarify what the client has said, if the client says it, then it is troubling them. It is often a surprise what words are used and why, it is what is going on internally that is causing the problems, whether the person went to counselling or not, the 'problem' would be there.

It depends on the 'problem'. Counsellors do alot more than just listen, listening is a skill and not all people have someone who will actively listening to them, so some benefit just from that alone.

reallytired Fri 14-Oct-11 22:06:19

Inorder to solve life's problems you need to reflect. Sometimes short councelling helps people reflect, however in some cases people just ruminate. I think ruminating about problems can make people more down.

I fell headlong into the transference trap with the health visitor I had nine years ago. It happened subconciously and I lost confidence in my ablity to problem solve. I ended up extremely ill as a result. The only way out was medication. Transference is when you relate to the councellor/ theraphist like someone from the past. It is subconcious and for example you might develop feelings towards the theraphist like you had towards your mother. Some times clients can fall in love with their theraphist. This is what makes it so hard to stop having theraphy. Councellors sometimes experience counter transference, but they have training and support to keep the relationship professional.

When I had my second child I used self help books and I was in control far more. I used www.livinglifetothefull.com and it worked well discussing what I was reading learning with my current health visitor. It was far more empowering me treating my own anxiety. CBT is amazing and life changing.

saladsandwich Fri 14-Oct-11 22:12:44

when my mum died i was refered to my local mental health services because i was a real wreck, my first experience of them was a bad one but i do have nice gp's so they refered me straight back and i got a nice cpn. for me it was about trust every time i saw him i opened up a little more. originally it was CBT i started but the talking to him about stuff gave me the strength (i think) to leave my abusive partner, but it didnt help with over coming my grief, he reffered me to a counsellor aftr 12months.

the counsellor helped me overcome the grief but i felt uncomfortable discussing anythign to do with my ex and it made me extremely anxious, i would say it made me worse for me, i built up expectations on myself to open up to him when i couldn't i think it is just finding the right person .

TheSkiingGardener Fri 14-Oct-11 22:14:36

Saying counselling doesn't work is a bit like saying cars don't work. It didn't work for you. The car may be broken, it may be a manual and you have only ever driven an automatic, someone may have given you the wrong key, but the evidence is out there that some counselling works for some people.

I'm sorry you are still struggling with things from your past, but I'm also struck by you saying that you were now at peace with things that had made you sad. Your counsellor can only know what you bring and I'm wondering what it was about those things that meant you brought them to the sessions.

Counselling and psychotherapy has dozens, at least, of different approaches and they are wildly different. Some demand that you relive and re-confront things before you can move on. Some say that you don't have to think about things from your past at all, you can deal with it all by using coping strategies. There are also many approaches in-between the two.

What the research evidence does show is that the most important predictor of outcome in therapy is the working relationship between therapist and client. It sounds like you found the wrong therapy and the wrong therapist for you certainly.

I know it isn't easy and I hope you do find the help you need to work through your difficulties.

CailinDana Fri 14-Oct-11 22:16:32

I totally agree that counselling isn't for everyone. For one thing, there are some shit counsellors out there, who can do more harm than good. I was at the receiving end of one of these, unfortunately.

aldiwhore Fri 14-Oct-11 22:17:54

OP you sound like an intelligent sort, and you'll obviously know when voicing pain does more harm than good to both yourself and those around you... my best mate's mum had many many major MH issues and was encouraged to talk to family, but without real structure ended up doing more harm than good to both herself and everyone else!

Will you ever free yourself of sadness from your mum's death? Can you? Its possible that you can't, because maybe there are things you can do nothing about, but I do see that as something that CAN be managed.

Your 'livetime' relationships, that's another matter. I don't know the ins and outs and don't pretend to be a psychologist, and won't even begin to try and help via osmosis (!) but it does seem that, even if the two issues ARE linked, then this issue is something that has a way forward?? As in, its something you have some control over?

I would urge you to keep trying to find a solution. For youself. It may be that its found not through counselling as such but maybe if you keep trying to seek that managability (is that even a word) you'll have more chance of finding peace if nothing else than if you write any kind of counselling off altogether?

I will, if you excuse me, go back to my weight issues, which were largely pschological at heart... it took me what? 25 years to find something that works... its not a solution, its no puzzle to be solved, but one to be managed for life, and for a good quality of life. Apologies for the comparison by the way, but its all about wellbeing isn't it? The quest for the 'holy grail' and sometimes it is actually the journey itself which is 'the' solution...

Good luck.

gordyslovesheep Fri 14-Oct-11 22:18:02

Honestly there are many different approaches to counselling - you have to find what fits you. I am a HUGE brief therapy / solution focused fan (both in practice and personally) because I hate faff and wallowing

however I also think you have to put some effort in yourself and be prepared for hard hard slog

gordyslovesheep Fri 14-Oct-11 22:20:56

also find a councellor you can work with - there are some very poor ones out there (like the one who asked me to print of leaflet on PTSD as she didn't have any experience of it) - but there are some ace ones as well

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 14-Oct-11 23:08:13

Hi there
We think this thread may be better places in Mental health, so we'll move it there.
Thanks
MNHQ

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