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Was this a normal counselling session?

52 replies

PopcornBits · 31/07/2017 22:02

I had my first counselling session today and I've come away feeling a bit disappointed.
I'm not sure if this is a typical NHS counselling session so I hope someone can shed some light.

Basically she spent 50 minutes yawning through the entire session. I caught her several times staring at something behind me on the floor, whatever it was, seemed like it was distracting her.
She kept "losing her train of thought" which she repeatedly kept saying every time she was trying to think of the counselling regulations they have to warn you about before you proceed.
During the session she spent about 30 seconds saying "hmm yeah, yep, hmm" repeatedly to herself whilst I was sat saying nothing.

By the end of session she asked me what was it that I was actually trying to find... I was a bit confused by this, because I thought counsellors were supposed to help understand emotions and why you feel the way you do.

The session as a whole felt like I was talking to someone who was disinterested and didn't take me seriously.
Baring in mind that the issue I was talking about needs to be reported to the police so not something trivial.

Basically I need to know whether that is normal for a counsellor? I'm not sure if she was just having a bad day, she certainly didn't seem like she should of been doing any counselling that day.

AIBU to cancel my next session and not bother going again?

OP posts:

Pouncival · 31/07/2017 22:05

it doesn't sound normal to me, poor you, sounds awful

I've had lots of counselling at different times in my life and never experienced that, although I do think some counsellors we connect better with than others

are you able to ask for a different counsellor?


streetface · 31/07/2017 22:07

No way that's not normal at all. I have found NHS counsellors to be a poo I'm afraid. I paid £42 an hour for a private one. 8 sessions and techniques given, amazing advice and active listening/questioning. Don't go again but don't give up on counselling. The right one can be life changing.


Lana1234 · 31/07/2017 22:09

Definitely not normal and totally out of order of the counsellor to behave like that. Ive had numerous conselling sessions and never had anything like that. Sorry you had this experience when you were seeking help and guidance. I second asking for a different counsellor.


AuntMatilda · 31/07/2017 22:11

Definitely not right.


PopcornBits · 31/07/2017 22:12

That's exactly what I thought streetface, I started to think private would be the best route now.

Did you have to go through different counsellors before you found the right one?

She made me feel like my original reason for being there wasn't worth looking at and then digressed onto something that at least for now isn't important as much as the original reason in which it needs reporting.

I've come away feeling even more confused!

OP posts:

JoWithABow · 31/07/2017 22:14

AIBU to cancel my next session and not bother going again?

Yes, you are being unreasonable - there's obviously a reason you've sought council king, you've made the brave step of going to your first session - don't let a bad councillor mean that you don't get the service and treatment you need. You need to raise this with her boss & ask to see someone else.
Maybe there is a deeper issue going on her, it doesn't sound like normal behaviour - perhaps write an email of corncern/complaint describing what went on and say you are raising it in case the woman needs support. Say you aren't happy to see that person again. You have nothing to loose by complaining/raising your concerns


PopcornBits · 31/07/2017 22:16

jowithabow I think you're right. Something didn't seem quite right with her. I'm going to call them tomorrow and see what they say.

OP posts:

feral · 31/07/2017 22:21

It's not right at all and I speak as a trained counsellor.

Years back before I trained my first counselling session was awful (and I never went back) and put me off for years! It's only as I trained I realised how bad it really had been.

Ask for someone else and you'll hopefully see the difference.


Dinosauratemydaffodils · 31/07/2017 22:24

Doesn't sound normal at all. I'm currently seeing someone for PTSD and they are very into eye contact, ensuring that I know they are listening to me and trying to make what is essentially a pretty horrific experience as okay as possible.

They are however the second person I've seen as I just didn't get on with the first person at all. I was fairly lucky (in an unlucky way) in that I'm also seeing a psychiatrist and he re-referred to me to see someone else without any questions/qualms.

I think it's hugely hit and miss on the NHS unfortunately.


GirlOnATrainToShite · 31/07/2017 22:26



susurration · 31/07/2017 22:26

I would say not normal and less than satisfactory. You can ask to switch to a different counsellor or team, and you should be able to give feedback either to your GP surgery you were referred through or the IAPT team.

This website might be useful to you NHS counselling pages

You could also look at the BACP website. Is there any opportunity for you to receive counselling through a work scheme? It would still be 100% confidential, your work wouldn't know why you're seeing them, nor would you have to tell them. I found my current counsellor through my employee assistance scheme at work, and she is fabulous. Work also paid for the first 12 weeks of my counselling and I now pay privately to see her and have done for nearly four years now. We have an excellent relationship.

There are many different types of therapist and different price ranges. It can sometimes take a few tries to find someone who you like. I've had four experiences of counsellors and only really liked two of them, the third was alright but we didn't click and the fourth one I flat out refused to see again. The BACP website in particular will be able to help you find a therapist with a specific specialism such as CBT, EMDR treatment plans, or someone who specialises in abuse or PTSD for example.

Best of luck.


Bisquick · 31/07/2017 22:26

No doesn't sound normal at all! Don't know how to request a different counsellor on the NHS, but the one I had was v good, and well regarded in her private practice as well I believe. Hope you manage to get an alternate counsellor who is more helpful; this lady sounds extremely unprofessional.


user1497480444 · 31/07/2017 22:34

I think people have very unrealistic expectations of counselling, it isn't some sort of magic wand, or even a medical procedure. Its just two people chatting in a room, the one who is having counselling might or might not find it comfortable, or helpful, just as talking to a friend might be, but the difference is a friend can walk away, but a councilor can't really.


Notreallybarbie1 · 31/07/2017 22:39

I'm a trainee counsellor. This does not sound in anyway appropriate to me. Please report this to the agency and ask to see a different counsellor. I really hope you get the help you need.


maudeismyfavouritepony · 31/07/2017 22:39

user1497480444 How about the counsellor is a trained professional and paid to do a professional job?

Would you say that about your dentist?

What a stupid comment, Op, ignore it


GirlOnATrainToShite · 31/07/2017 22:39

think people have very unrealistic expectations of counselling, it isn't some sort of magic wand, or even a medical procedure. Its just two people chatting in a room, the one who is having counselling might or might not find it comfortable, or helpful, just as talking to a friend might be, but the difference is a friend can walk away, but a councilor can't really

Biggest load of shit I have read on here for a long time.

Takes 3 years at least to get a counselling diploma Hmm


PopcornBits · 31/07/2017 22:39

I didn't go in expecting her wave a magic wand. But I also didn't expect her to be disinterested and blasé about it either.

OP posts:

GirlOnATrainToShite · 31/07/2017 22:39

OP report to the BACP.


brasty · 31/07/2017 22:39

Ask to see someone else. I saw a brilliant NHS counsellor, but I think it is luck.


YoullShootYourEyeOut · 31/07/2017 22:42

I am training to be a counsellor and what this woman did was extremely unprofessional and no at all empathetic. I would make a complaint and ask for an alternative counsellor. Sorry you had to go through that.


CremeFresh · 31/07/2017 22:44

Doesn't sound right at all , it can take a good few tries before you find a counsellor, NHS or private, that you feel is right for you,


Foxysoxy01 · 31/07/2017 22:47

I saw a private counsellor that does occasionally do some NHS work that sounds very much like yours OP! They were shocking and at one point actually stifled yawn! I wonder if it's the same person?

I did stop going to them after a few sessions as they made me feel awful, some of what they said could have a real serious impact on anyone less 'ok' than I was.

It's ok to find a new counsellor if the one you are seeing is not helping or making you feel worse.


HarveySchlumpfenburger · 31/07/2017 22:48

Maybe user. But that's no excuse for the things the OP seems to have experienced in her session.

I've had a number of different counsellors over the last 10+ years. None of them have done any of the thinks the OP has talked about.

Don't feel worried about asking for someone else or going elsewhere. One of the first things my 1st counsellor told me was that you have to feel comfortable and it's perfectly fine to ask for someone else even if it's a very minor issue that is irritating you. Any good counsellor will be aware of this.


Haaaarrrryyyy · 31/07/2017 22:50

please take your counsellors details and report to the BACP. this counsellor should not be working right now and is going to do you no good. if you do choose to go private please please look at a counsellor who is registered with BACP. counselling is not regulated however a registered counsellor through this organisation HAS been trained and does have ethics and responsibilities to abide by. there are some fabulous counsellors out there, please dont be deterred


CalamineLotion · 31/07/2017 22:50

OP make a few notes about the session and your concerns. Have the next session, if you are still dissatisfied ask for a 15 minute chat at the start of the 3rd session and tell her how you are feeling. Staring into middle distance happens when people are concentrating on active listening and thinking at the same time. My ex DP was a clinical psychologist and he definitely made hum hooks to himself whilst cogitating !

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