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I've had quite a difficult life, very dysfunctional family, emotional and physical abuse. Have found life difficult although have got good education and have own house - on the outside probably look 'ok'
I've had two long term relationships, both abusive although not extremely and things really come to a head after I had my son. I didn't have any support and it also made me realise how badly my own family had treated me having my own son who I love so much.
It seems things have got worse as I have tried to get myself better and fix some of the damage. My relationship with sons father got more abusive possibly because I was no longer pandering to all his needs - I had myself and son to look after.
I saw Hv and gp for support, Hv was no good at all, gp wanted to just give me ads, finally agreed to refer me to counselling and had 6 sessions but that was the limit. I then started private counselling but due to funds saw her about once a month. I found it useful being able to tell someone all about my childhood, to have an empathetic ear.
Anyway, I finally left DP end of last year at first I felt better but then I had a few problems with health and work and loneliness and sadness kicked in. I told my counsellor how I was feeling and how I wished I had a supportive family - although it's obviously upsetting how crap a childhood I had, I know that's in the past but what I find hard now is that I literally have no-one for support either practical or emotional. Also no role model for anything including mothering my son, I only know what NOT to do from what was done to me.
I have a few friends but they only get in touch when they want something and contact is always on their terms.
I have a part time job which is crucial to being able to support myself financially, it isn't a very positive place loads of people have left in last year (about 20%), finding another job is not realistic there is v high unemployment where I live. I don't let it affect me too much but it obviously doesn't help.
My counsellor upset me as she asked why I can't just 'let the pain go' referring to not having a supportive family. I thought this was a bit insensitive so on our next session I told her I didn't appreciate it and maybe as she hasn't had same experience she can't really understand? She backtracked and said that perhaps she had made a mistake in what she said and that although she hadn't gone through what I had, she had herself felt the pain of loneliness. So we seemed to overcome this. I asked to see her weekly as I thought maybe sessions were too far apart to make real progress and she said yes. In the last 8 sessions she has cancelled 5 due to illness. I know people get ill but it's hard not to feel disappointed. Also, she doesn't appear to have a plan / strategy, it mainly feels I pay her to be a sympathetic ear, there doesn't appear to be any goals or anything - am I expecting too much? I've thought of mentioning this to her but maybe this is just the way she works?
I'm not sure what to do, am I expecting too much from her? There are very few counsellors in my locality and not keen on having to almost start again with someone else, as she knows all my history. I do like her but not sure if she is really helping if that makes sense?
Other perspectives would be useful
No, you are not expecting too much.
Is she properly qualified?
She sounds more like a well-meaning friend than a counsellor.
In general, counselling won't give you a 'plan' but rather allows you the space to see what the problems are and helps you decide, for yourself, how to proceed.
Therapists should in general have a supervisor that they discuss things with. For example if something you are bringing up triggers something in the therapist, they need to go through this with their supervisor to ensure that they can then respond appropriately to you in your sessions.
It's not about whether she has experienced the pain of loneliness - that sounds very unprofessional, as does the absolutely ridiculous suggestion that you somehow 'let go of the pain'.
I understand how difficult it can be to start over, but there is the fallacy of 'sunken costs' thing to think about here. You might feel you are already heavily invested with her, but my opinion is that you would be better off looking for someone else (who's qualified).
I have to agree... she sounds hopeless. It will be great if you can manage to go weekly
Look at mind website to see about different kinds of therapy & what you think about them...
Are there any counselling charities near to where you live? Mind are fantastic.
I am currently back on their waiting list after bad advice from a private counsellor which set me back massively. Also you need more regular contact... once a week or fortnight is better.
You need to put your past to bed so that it doesnt keep impeding on your future. Patterns emerge unless you sort out your past, file stuff away and learn about boundries and you, what you're willing to accept happen in your life in your future. It takes time. Be kind to yourself. Get some self help books in the mean time. "Toxic parents" is good to help deal with childhood issues xx
I had counselling for some time, after suffering a very abusive childhood. It started with 'person centred' where you're just listened to and you don't receive much input or structured guidance (sounds similar to yours) It helped up to a point. But then I moved on to a more active type of therapy, one-to-one, where there was role play and various activities such as specific art and drawing to help me access my anger and pain. This was very upsetting and difficult but the counsellor was professional and as 2times says, had a supervisor who mentored her, so it was all monitored well. I also had some NHS counselling after a breakdown, which was totally useless and in quite large groups. We all just sat there saying our piece (or not, as some were too shy) and the therapist had a lovely time doing nothing.
After this mixed selection of therapy and counselling, I was much better and found I could cope with life. This was years and years ago, so I expect things have changed now. However my experiences may encourage you to go for counselling. I too hid my pain for years but it did need addressing. Hope you can find some help. Kindest wishes. x
Thanks all for your replies yes she is qualified has a masters and
Is bacp registered. My local mind does not have a counsellor, there are Some charities well 1 that I know of but only offer 6 sessions and I don't think this is enough for me to address my issues...
She describes her approach as integrative although person centred sounds more accurate. I'd like someone to take more of the lead in how I address my issues if that makes sense, if I had a personal trainer in gym I would be doing the work but they would be guiding me and I had hoped counselling would be similar?? I guess I do need to look around for someone else, I didn't mention this previously but I did look a few months ago had one session he was a man and was just an introduction really but he started texting me and asking to meet for coffee which I thought very inappropriate, it does put me off and makes me wonder if there's anyone near me that can actually help . Plus money is a factor I don't mind going without any treats and cutting back on stuff if I know it's worthwhile but I have not got a lot of money and it's daunting to keep wasting it... Can I address things just with self help books?
Always have a therapist the same sex as you. It's too intense, and sexual undertones could start to emerge.
I don't think self-help books alone would have helped me, as the things I spoke about and addressed upset me terribly so having a professional at hand was necessary to calm and guide me through it.
The art therapy ( as part of 'gestalt' therapy) was very effective. I was asked to make small models in plasticine and show how things had happened to me. Then I was given paints and large sheets of paper and tried to paint how I felt. At first I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but suddenly I reached for the red and black paints and went quite mad with them all over the paper.
I looked at these later and saw just how damaged I'd been.
Another strategy which surprised me was the 'inner child' concept. I thought this was a load of old tosh, but I was asked to write with my opposite hand to my dominant one, and ask my inner self to communicate. It was rather like a seance. My hand moved and a strange childish writing appeared, telling all sorts of things I'd actually forgotten. Weird!
Whatever you do, check the qualifications of a therapist or counsellor, because there are some people out there who make money from this, but aren't suitable at all.
If she has a masters and is a MBACP then she's definitely appropriately qualified. Most counsellors will discuss goals with you in the first or second session and review these periodically but not all, very person centred counsellors in particular will be wholly client led (non-directive) whereas other approaches e.g CBT are highly directive.
I think the best thing would be for you to have a think about where you want the sessions to go, what you hope to achieve from counselling and your personal goals. She's not a mind reader! The thing with private counselling is that it isn't time limited so can be a bit more meandering, but if you want to make it more goal focused this is of course possible.
It sounds like you have a good therapeutic alliance that will withstand some gentle challenging on both sides, this is very important. I would stick with her and maybe use the next session to definite / revisit goals.
Btw I can't believe the male counsellor texted you to meet for coffee! so inappropriate! I would actually report him to BACP (if he's even a member).
Fwiw, I think it's bollocks about never working with a counsellor of a different gender to you. It can actually be really good, for loads of reasons. A professional, warm and empathic counsellor is just that, regardless of whether they have a penis or not!
I could have written so much of your first post. I can't write much now as too tired but I recently 'sacked' a counsellor who was just awful in our first full session. This is an opportunity for you to start setting boundaries, she could have been asking it in a philosophical kind of way but she didn't tell you that and it left you feeling attacked.
Life is fucking hard when You come from a dysfunctional family and it's often not until middle age where we start learning the boundaries that were missing from birth. I can even mirror your work situation. I felt so overwhelmingly lonely tonight that I just cried. Not having support, real support from anybody is so hard, please accept my solidarity!
ask if you can have a chat or just ask for the number of someone in your gp practice who works in mental health. They will know decent councellors.
My gp refused any ads although frankly I would try anything, he is very switched on. Have you googled your local services and found any? They are generally heavily subsided and you pay a " donation" of £5 or what you can afford for a session once a week with a qualified person.
That male counsellor is a shocker, tbh. dreadful.
I don't know where you are, but if you are the south west, PM me, as you might be in the reach of my lot. Took me 2 goes though, to find someone. And I complained- to the head of them and moaned at my gp- inappropriate behavour, just like you.
To put a cap on 6 sessions is ridiculous. Mind offer 10 but with the option of added sessions if necessary.I agree you would probably need more, I know I would. Then again, 6 sessions is better than none and of you get a nice counsellor they might re-register you so you get more.
I don't agree with the same sex thing. The worst two I've had are women and the best two men. The last person who I still see when I need to is a man. He talks more than me. Totally goal orientated. 25 mins session and loads of homework. Finding someone good is the hardest part.
With the cap at 6 sessions I agree. I wonder how many people this is sufficient for and how many it is effectively a waste of time. I asked if there was any way to get extended even if I paid but apparently not.
As I've had counselling via my gp, I'm not allowed to request it again for 2 years after my last session as they have such a demand. They have no info about counsellors, they won't recommend one. They provided details of one low cost counselling service it's about 20 miles from me cost is £25 per hour and they are trainees.
I am in wales and tbh can't believe how expensive it is most are £40 an hour. I honestly don't know who can afford this if long term and weekly, perhaps they don't have many private clients and mainly work through gov agencies.
Just looked online and there are only 4 within 20 miles and their profiles all suggest they are person centred I.e me chat they listen where goals are to increase self awareness etc. Its not really what I'm looking for is it ??
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