I googled ‘why is counselling good’ and got lots of very sensible answers. And then I googled ‘evidence that counselling works’, and again the same. There’s plenty of evidence that counselling works to ease the pain, and lots of good reasons explaining why.
I thought I might share (some of) the reasons I think it’s good:
1. Your counsellor doesn’t want to reassure you:
However much your friends and family love you, often there are feelings you just can’t share with them. You might find that when you try and describe your pain, they want to reassure you so that you feel better. In counselling, you can explore all the really awful things you are thinking and feeling, without your counsellor trying to reassure you or fix you. It’s a place where you can say out loud the worst of what is in your head. And once it’s outside, in the world, you and your counsellor can look at it carefully, and find out more about it. Maybe, under this open examination, it might change and lose its power.
2. Your counsellor isn’t waiting to tell you about their own things:
Most conversations are two way – and so are the conversations with your counsellor. But the difference is that in counselling, it’s all about you. Your counsellor is there to talk with you about you – they might give you a little bit of psycho-education (share their knowledge about mental health), but otherwise, their focus is on you. That might take a little bit of getting used to, and if you’re struggling with being the centre of attention, this might even be something to explore together!
3. Your counsellor accepts you:
Your counsellor has the attitude that whatever you do or have done, has come from a place of trying to do your best. Person-centred counsellors particularly believe that we humans are always trying to live our best life. That doesn’t mean that things always work out for us, particularly as you might have learnt some things in the past that don’t actually work well for you in the long run.
4. Your counsellor is on your side:
If you’ve got a decision to make or a dilemma, talking about it with your counsellor can be a great place to find out what you really want to do, and whether that’s going to be possible. As well as listening to your words, your counsellor’s also going to be noticing changes in your body, face, tone of voice and so on, and letting you know about these changes. This knowledge might give you insight that you wouldn’t otherwise have had.
5. You can tell secrets to your counsellor:
Some secrets are nice ones, but sometimes you might be keeping secrets that you’d rather be rid of. Your counsellor will be able to hear your secrets. Once the secrets are out in the room, maybe something will happen to them, maybe they will lose their power.
6. Your counsellor appreciates all the different parts of you:
Sometimes you might find yourself putting certain parts of yourself front and centre, because you know that these are the bits that your family/society/your friends love the most. With your counsellor, you can be all that you are. It’s a good place to practise letting other parts of you share the limelight. When your counsellor accepts them, maybe it can feel possible that you can accept them too.
7. The relationship with your counsellor is a real relationship:
And there is something about being in relationship with other humans that helps us. You might be paying your counsellor (or you might get counselling through your work or university) but this doesn’t mean that your counsellor doesn’t genuinely care about you. This might remind you (if you need reminding) that you are a person worth caring about.
I hope counselling helps you, and you can build your own list of reasons why counselling is good.