These days most people still tend to consider that you have to be in deep crisis to even think about accessing face to face counselling. This is partly fuelled by the media perception and also by traditional cultural biases that consider even thinking about it must mean that you are ‘weak’ or have ‘lost it’ somehow…

As a qualified therapist of 12 years standing I would like to challenge such misperceptions. Yes, counselling is vital to assist those whose lives are in crisis and yes it is crucially important for those with major mental health issues such as really debilitating stress or major depression, but counselling can also be used as a means of ‘seeing the wood from the trees’ or just talking to someone who is independent, open, kind and professionally qualified to listen and provide some guidance.  This is not something that is necessarily true of your immediate friends and family who will always come at you with a heavy bias: they are close to you after all!

Counselling as developmental? Counselling as a means of nipping a problem in the bud before it becomes really serious? Exactly! It can be used for all these things and more. An example might be where you may have some relationship problems that seem to be building and you decide that it’s time to see someone about them-this is a good means of heading off a problem at the pass and may provide some good objective insights that then allow you to work out where to take things going forward. Another example might be that you always find yourself procrastinating and it is beginning to wear you down and will become serious if not attended to. Or using a counsellor to help with a bereavement can be very useful if there are no complications attached.

So the message is: don’t let things fester or leave an issue right up until it’s become a crisis or a mental health problem-act early and don’t delay. Many people report that even after one or two sessions they can begin to feel the benefits-most counselling issues are dealt with and resolved within six. And remember you have up to eight available to you as well as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the best way to tackle depression and anxiety.

Maybe the best thing to think is that it’s the switched on person who decides to access counselling when they know there is a problem or as people often say to me ‘you don’t try to fix a water leak by yourself-you call a plumber’. Well in this case where you know there is an issue call the professionals and access the EAP.

by Ben Amponsah

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