My feed
Premium

Please
or
to access all these features

AIBU?

To think this was really really bad counselling?

44 replies

PBJam · 05/02/2024 15:25

I have been struggling with anxiety and PTSD after a number of different health traumas - both things that have happened to me (eg cancer) and my DC (resulting in permanent disability). The anxiety is based around health issues as so many things have gone wrong to me and my family that I just keep expecting more bad things to happen. And if I get a small health issue it triggers (hate that word sorry!) all of the emotions that I went through with the big health issues. One of the things i particularly struggle with is that when I went to the doctors I was told that either I or my DC were fine when we were actually seriously ill. This happened multiple times with multiple serious illnesses. So I can't trust doctors. But I can't trust myself either as I think eg a rash is lupus or a sore knee is bone cancer.

I had CBT which was awful and made things worse. Then I had 5 sessions of counselling which had also made things worse. Examples of things the counsellor said:

You won't ever get over your trauma. You need to hold onto it as it kept you safe.

You can't trust the doctors as you were right and they were wrong.

You have to learn to deal with how you feel. There's nothing I can say that will make you feel better. You just have to get on with your day the best you can.

Any time you have a health symptom you should go to the doctor to get it checked (bearing in mind most of my symptoms are physical symptoms of anxiety and they change every day so if I did that I would be at the GP all the time).

[I explain a current symptom] ooh that sounds worrying. I would be worried if that happened to me.


Every single session I felt much more depressed and anxious than at the beginning. I've now said I won't go any more. He said I should think about seeing a psychiatrist.

AIBU in thinking this was really really bad counselling?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

158 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
20%
You are NOT being unreasonable
80%
haveyougotamin · 05/02/2024 15:26

Omg, I have no words. That's awful! All of it!

Keepingongoing · 05/02/2024 15:48

That sounds terrible! Was this person even qualified?

laclochette · 05/02/2024 15:59

It certainly doesn't sound helpful. I hope you can find a counsellor who is better suited to you. I'd look for a psychotherapist who is (although the whole system is complex) usually more highly trained and experienced than a counsellor, and one who specialises in your area.

Acatdance · 05/02/2024 16:01

You have to learn to deal with how you feel. There's nothing I can say that will make you feel better. You just have to get on with your day the best you can.

So what's the point of counselling, then? Everyone should just get on with their day ...

PBJam · 05/02/2024 16:03

It was organised through my private health insurance. They said he was a specialist in health anxiety. I don't think he was. Wondering about complaining but I don't have the strength right now.

OP posts:
ihatethecold · 05/02/2024 16:06

Im sorry Op, thats not good. I would be concerned over the ethics of this person.
I am a qualified bacp counsellor and none of what they are saying is in your best interests.

Can you look elsewhere?

DelilahsHaven · 05/02/2024 16:06

I don't know if it is really bad, as it sounds like they were validating your feelings rather than minimising them. But, if it is making you feel worse, then it is not helping you.

Maybe try a different therapist and set some goals with them around where you want to get to during the course of therapy.

AutumnCrow · 05/02/2024 16:07

Is it supposed to be some form of acceptance and compassion therapy ('ACT')? That's very de rigeur at the moment.

We've got a bit of it going on at the NHS Pain Management group I go to, in that the therapist will say, 'I do not have a cure for you, I'm sorry,' - but that's before moving on to all the things that she and the other therapists can do to help us help ourselves iykwim.

Pointynoseowner · 05/02/2024 16:32

Context is everything. If you feel your not getting the help you need find another counsellor.

Naunet · 05/02/2024 16:37

He doesn’t sound like a qualified professional at all, but more like a self proclaimed life coach. Where did you find him? Please don’t let him put you off, I was suicidal a few years ago over childhood abuse and my therapist has pretty much saved my life. It really can help with the right person.

therealcookiemonster · 05/02/2024 18:07

PBJam · 05/02/2024 16:03

It was organised through my private health insurance. They said he was a specialist in health anxiety. I don't think he was. Wondering about complaining but I don't have the strength right now.

he seems to have health anxiety himself! such absolute codswallop! my cat can probably give you better advice!

Kerfuffleplunk · 05/02/2024 18:22

OP@PBJam it sounds as if the counsellor is reflecting your feelings back at you ? You might not recognise this but reflecting back what the client is communicating is a common counselling technique. However I would suggest anyone suffering from trauma is better seeing a psychotherapist rather than a standard counsellor. It is not unusual at the end of sessions to feel your depressive/ anxious feelings more ….sometimes you have to experience those feelings and work through them in a supportive environment in order to recover. You may want to try and visit a couple of therapists to see if they ‘“fit” with you but you may need to think through what you actually want to get out of therapy….if you don’t want to go through those painful feelings it may not be for you. Cbt is,I agree ,often inappropriate for people who have been through trauma as it requires you to engage in a cognitive/thought process rather than understanding and processing your emotions.

giggly · 05/02/2024 18:33

I’m with @AutumnCrow sounds like ACT, problem is on here is that if you’re not trained in a therapy then post people have very little understanding of the process.
Im curious if you have been diagnosed with PTSD or if you think you have it as very different therapies available and most definitely not generic counselling.

PBJam · 05/02/2024 18:39

He wasn't reflecting what I was saying. I said I wanted to have appropriate coping strategies for when I get a physical symptom of anxiety. He said I should go to the GP each time. I said I wanted to find a way to lessen the emotional flashbacks/trauma and he said to hold onto them.

The CBT was awful. At the time I was struggling with a muscle twitch in my eyebrow. It was happening once every 2 minutes or so. She asked me what I was thinking just before i got the twitch each time. I said I was just getting on with work. She said I must have been thinking something. I said it happens every 2 minutes, my thoughts are different every two minutes. It happens when I'm driving, when I'm watching TV, when I'm eating, when I'm working. I'm not thinking about it. It's an involuntary muscle twitch. She continued to say that I must have had a thought that provoked it each time. It was nonsense. She also told me that it was a worrying symptom and I should see a neurologist, despite me saying I thought it was a physical symptom of anxiety. So that made me worry even more.

OP posts:
YouOKHun · 05/02/2024 18:46

It sounds really tough @PBJam and it’s not surprising you are struggling. Terrible advice from the counsellor! Counselling can be really helpful but I think less so for issues such as health anxiety.

I will hold my hand up here to being a CBT therapist. It’s absolutely true that one size does not fit all and a big part of helpful therapy is the relationship between the therapist and client whatever the approach. There is a pretty good evidence base for CBT in the treatment of anxiety in its many forms, including health anxiety. Where trauma is present then the two main approaches are Trauma-Focused CBT and EMDR.

The problem with CBT is that so many therapists are claiming they are CBT qualified but this may mean they’ve done a relatively short course and finding a CBT therapist privately is a minefield. The best course of action is to find a BABCP accredited CBT therapist, then you will know that they have a core profession and specific post graduate training, specific CBT clinical supervision and ongoing training and supervision requirements to stay accredited. Increasingly accredited CBT therapists have EMDR qualifications. It’s not a guarantee but if you do try CBT again privately these are requirements to look for.

I really hope you get the right support and things improve for you 💐

PBJam · 05/02/2024 18:47

giggly · 05/02/2024 18:33

I’m with @AutumnCrow sounds like ACT, problem is on here is that if you’re not trained in a therapy then post people have very little understanding of the process.
Im curious if you have been diagnosed with PTSD or if you think you have it as very different therapies available and most definitely not generic counselling.

I've never seen a psychiatrist but both GP and a psychotherapist said it was PTSD and anxiety.

I feel like he said the exact opposite of everything that is helpful to someone with health anxiety and PTSD. "Your trauma is keeping you safe, hold onto it" is surely not something any counsellor should say, whatever method they're using.

OP posts:
cindyhove · 05/02/2024 18:50

I'm sorry you had that experience with that counsellor. Try not tar them all with the same brush. Find a different therapist. If you do not "gel" with them, or you feel they are not helpful/dismissive or similar leave them and go elsewhere. There are excellent counsellors out there - this wasn't one of them obviously. 😥

MermaidProject · 05/02/2024 18:51

PBJam · 05/02/2024 18:47

I've never seen a psychiatrist but both GP and a psychotherapist said it was PTSD and anxiety.

I feel like he said the exact opposite of everything that is helpful to someone with health anxiety and PTSD. "Your trauma is keeping you safe, hold onto it" is surely not something any counsellor should say, whatever method they're using.

Are you sure he didn't say 'Your trauma HAS kept you safe, so you held onto it'?

ZephrineDrouhin · 05/02/2024 18:51

I am in a similar situation to the OP. My son and my husband both had cancer. I had a very early skin cancer removed. I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It has made me a dreadful hypochondriac. I seriously thought my tendonitis might be bone cancer. I had it x-rayed and an ultrasound just to be on the safe side (not on the NHS). I haven't got a solution - I think it will hopefully lessen if we all stay healthy for a bit. I can't see that therapy could help me because nobody can say we totally won't have a relapse.

PBJam · 05/02/2024 18:54

MermaidProject · 05/02/2024 18:51

Are you sure he didn't say 'Your trauma HAS kept you safe, so you held onto it'?

100% sure. I said I wanted to be able to lessen the effects of it and he said I should be holding into it as it will keep me safe ie trust myself not the doctors, get tested for everything, go to the doctor for everything.

OP posts:
PBJam · 05/02/2024 18:55

ZephrineDrouhin · 05/02/2024 18:51

I am in a similar situation to the OP. My son and my husband both had cancer. I had a very early skin cancer removed. I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It has made me a dreadful hypochondriac. I seriously thought my tendonitis might be bone cancer. I had it x-rayed and an ultrasound just to be on the safe side (not on the NHS). I haven't got a solution - I think it will hopefully lessen if we all stay healthy for a bit. I can't see that therapy could help me because nobody can say we totally won't have a relapse.

That's exactly it. If I could just have some time without health issues then I might be able to heal and feel more positive. But not only have I been having real health issues but also physical symptoms of anxiety, which make me worry that they're symptoms of something awful eg eyebrow twitch is a neurological disorder.

OP posts:
ElitebookBang · 05/02/2024 18:58

PBJam · 05/02/2024 18:39

He wasn't reflecting what I was saying. I said I wanted to have appropriate coping strategies for when I get a physical symptom of anxiety. He said I should go to the GP each time. I said I wanted to find a way to lessen the emotional flashbacks/trauma and he said to hold onto them.

The CBT was awful. At the time I was struggling with a muscle twitch in my eyebrow. It was happening once every 2 minutes or so. She asked me what I was thinking just before i got the twitch each time. I said I was just getting on with work. She said I must have been thinking something. I said it happens every 2 minutes, my thoughts are different every two minutes. It happens when I'm driving, when I'm watching TV, when I'm eating, when I'm working. I'm not thinking about it. It's an involuntary muscle twitch. She continued to say that I must have had a thought that provoked it each time. It was nonsense. She also told me that it was a worrying symptom and I should see a neurologist, despite me saying I thought it was a physical symptom of anxiety. So that made me worry even more.

The most likely cause of your eyebrow muscle twitching was exhaustion and insomnia. Yes, the counsellor was wrong to say all that. And I work in that field.

There is help for health anxiety and you can get better. Look for a qualified clinical psychologist on the BACP website.

WoodforTrees · 05/02/2024 19:01

Sorry to hear this OP. Sounds shockingly bad.

Some of the therapists on the 'books' of private health companies are abysmal. I don't know what the vetting is but from my experiences, the threshold is really low. I have just finished an 18 month battle with BUPA after DD was FINALLY found a therapist who would do F2F rather than online, after 6 months of asking. We are West London for context - not the Outer Hebrides.

DD is 18 and has had real problems. Rage, Despair,Self Harm (quite intentional and serious rather than superficial), Self-sabotage, talk of suicide etc etc. Two sessions in and DD said "I don't think she's very good mum". Turns out that this woman in her late sixties if not older, had suggested DD turn her phone off at 7pm to stay safe from social media (even though DD isn't actually remotely into socials - and this wasn't a problem) and did some mindful colouring. Whilst at the sessions, she was given colouring sheets and crayons and told to 'sing happy songs in her head'. And that was it.

Seriously.

And for this claptrap she was charging BUPA £129 per hour. I saw the bill because I refused to pay the excess and demanded they find someone else.

So, sorry to make it all about 'me' (or DD) but OP - don't think that just because someone says they are a counsellor and have found their way onto your Private Healthcare's system - that they must be right. They sounds shit and frankly, borderline dangerous. Please insist on someone else, refuse to pay any excess for sessions to date and put your concerns in writing to them.

Mementomorissons · 05/02/2024 19:03

This counsellor is a disaster. Stop seeing them for your own sanity, they sound like how I talk to my friends (who knows me well enough to know that I wouldn't ever dream of becoming a counsellor because I'm clumsy with words).

It's the wrong job for them I think

YouOKHun · 05/02/2024 19:08

The CBT was awful. At the time I was struggling with a muscle twitch in my eyebrow. It was happening once every 2 minutes or so. She asked me what I was thinking just before i got the twitch each time. I said I was just getting on with work. She said I must have been thinking something. I said it happens every 2 minutes, my thoughts are different every two minutes. It happens when I'm driving, when I'm watching TV, when I'm eating, when I'm working. I'm not thinking about it. It's an involuntary muscle twitch. She continued to say that I must have had a thought that provoked it each time. It was nonsense

Yep, that isn’t CBT, but it’s certainly what some people think CBT is. I can see why you found it so unhelpful.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.