Author Archives: J-Tett1909

an old gate in a field

How to find a counsellor

Making the decision that you are going to start counselling can feel pretty huge. You’re ready to try something that could help you feel better and enjoy life more – and there are only a few more steps to go:

You might have a personal recommendation of a counsellor, or you might have heard a name of a counsellor – or you might have no idea where to start.

Mind UK (https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/talking-therapy-and-counselling/how-to-find-a-therapist/) is a good place to start.

Counselling Directory is a place for counsellors from lots of different membership bodies.

BACP is the biggest membership body of counsellors.

ACTO is a directory of online counsellors.

If you can, take a bit of time to think about what exactly you are looking for: is your counsellor’s gender important? or their specialisms? or their counselling approach? Do you want to know if your counsellor is an ally? Next, more practical concerns: do you want to work face-to-face or online? What time and day is going to suit you best? How much do you want to spend? Are you thinking of working long term or short term (or not sure)? Do you want to meet first for a quick chat on the phone, or a short face-to-face meeting or video call, or would you rather book a full session, and decide after that?

Once you have this kind of thing clear in your mind, write a short enquiry email. Say that you’re looking to start counselling, ideally with someone who (and describe what you are looking for). Explain how and when you would like to work. Ask what the counsellor’s arrangements are for initial meetings or sessions. You can explain that you will be contacting a few different counsellors so that you can find the best match for you. You might like to say a few words about the main issues you are hoping to work on, but you don’t have to go into any detail, and you don’t have to do this now.

So you’re ready with your email, and you’re on a website listing counsellors. As you scroll through the pictures and welcome messages, you might get a sense of who you might like to consider working with. Anyone who catches your eye, send them your email!

Over the next few days, keep an eye on your email and do check your spam/junk folders. When you find someone who’s available to work with you, set up your first meeting – whether it’s a short chat, or a full session. You might prepare a list of questions you want to make sure to ask. These might be questions about something practical – payment methods, confidentiality or cancellation arrangements. Or you might want to know something about them and how they work. Feel free to ask anything you’d like.

If you can see a few different counsellors, you’ll get the chance to see what sort of person appeals to you the most, and who feels like you could work well with. The practicalities can be ironed out, and you’ll be ready to go!

And then, of course, the real work starts!

an empty wooden bench looking out across sea and sand

2023: what will be new for you?

The start of a new year can be an exciting time – there might be a feeling of a fresh start, anticipation of adventures to come and hope for better times ahead. For the first few days of a new year, you might even be feeling refreshed and energised if you’ve been able to have some time off work.

You might well know yourself what suits you better: are you someone who benefits from setting yourself clear goals that you can then systematically work towards across the year? or are you someone who is better suited to adopting a theme for the year, maybe something like a way of being or doing that you’d like to grow over the year? Maybe you know that actually springtime is a better time for future planning for you? It takes a lot of self awareness to understand what works best for you, especially if it’s something different to what we are told is the norm.

Perhaps you’re someone who has noticed that you have a tendency to set yourself targets at this time of year, targets that you very rarely meet, and that really don’t give you any pleasure. I wonder what is going on there – a wish to be someone who you aren’t, an uncomfortableness with who you actually might be, or a belief that things should be hard and painful?

If you have time, this year, before you set yourself your goals, targets, resolutions or themes, I wonder if you could spend some time reflecting on what has worked for you in the past? Have you successfully made big deliberate changes in the past – and how did you do it? Do you need rewards, or friends to help, or someone to be accountable to? What has worked? If nothing comes to mind, consider what you might try. If you can consider this quietly, away from distractions and judgments, perhaps you’ll have a sense of what will work best. And then experiment: if possible, keep close at hand a sense of kindness, softness and gentleness towards yourself. Remember that actually, you already are good enough, any changes you do make will be the icing on the cake!

Good luck with whatever you decide – whether it’s big changes, small changes, or a decision to accept things as they are. Remember that talking things like this over with a counsellor can be really helpful. Your counsellor can be someone who helps you work out what to do, reflects on what’s happened and supports you to make changes. A good place to find a counsellor is on the BACP Therapist Directory, or if you think we might be a good match to work together, contact me here:

    an empty wooden bench looking out across sea and sand

    Christmas is approaching.

    As November continues, Christmas is getting closer and closer. I am mainly aware of this because Christmas adverts are appearing, plus conversations about these adverts, which seem to lead to other conversations about Christmas. Rather than make me excited about the coming festivities, I notice that actually, a lot of these adverts make me quite angry – particularly the messages that I must buy things. You might notice that you get a bit – or very – angry as well, maybe for the same reasons, or perhaps it’s the depictions of family life at Christmas that get to you.

    What else comes up for you as Christmas approaches? It’s not an easy time of year for a lot of people: we see all these messages on the media about how we should be spending it, how we should feel, what we should be offering to others. We also have our own histories of Christmas past, and we might also be aware of the histories of people close to us. If a close friend loves Christmas, is there space for you to not love it? You might find yourself building a wall inside you, to protect you from all these difficult feelings and memories.

    As Christmas gets nearer, I find myself needing more time outside in nature, where I can observe the cycle of the year amongst the trees, and in the sky. I need to focus on the jewel-like berries on offer to the birds, on the fallen leaves that will become food for next year’s seeds. I can imagine those seeds already under the ground, composting away quietly. Sunrise is later and later, and being able to catch stunning orange skies at the start of the day feels like nourishment to me. These are the adverts I really need to see.

    You might find it hard to talk about what you really feel about Christmas, and to share memories of Christmases that weren’t like the ones on the adverts. But sharing these stories and the feelings that come with them can be healing, and exploring them might mean that things move around for you inside, making space for a Christmas that suits you.

    A counsellor might be someone you can explore these kinds of issues with, or you might prefer to journal about this time of year. A quiet walk in the woods might be right for you – or a mixture of all three. Taking steps like this, where these feelings are allowed out, and where these stories can be told, might mean that Christmas can feel easier for you in future.

    Where next?

    Here are some ideas for making the most of nature for healing: https://www.meditationoasis.com/how-to-meditate/simple-meditations/nature-meditations

    Here’s a nice ‘how to’ start journalling: https://www.wikihow.com/Keep-a-Mental-Health-Journal

    And if you would like to start counselling, contact me here, or have a look at the BACP Therapist Directory for someone who feels like a good match: https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/how-to-find-a-therapist/

      As the seasons change, so do we:

      This time of year isn’t great in my experience. It’s the time between summer and autumn. The weather has certainly changed, it’s colder, greyer, wetter and darker. The leaves have started to change – but they’ve only just started changing. So the colours are muted, a few oranges and yellows here and there, but there are more dull greens and greys. I’m looking forward to proper autumn – to the fabulous colours of the trees and to more crisp bright sunshine days.

      When the seasons change, I don’t know about you, but I feel things within me shift around as well. When winter comes, I feel like staying close to home, warm and cosy and quiet, embracing the feeling of composting. Springtime might be a time of things stirring, ideas bubbling up to the surface with some energy. Summer can be a mixture of relaxing and moving, of languid and high energy. Autumn to me feels like the bang of the end of the year, beautiful colours are everywhere, a real celebration of the year we’ve had.

      But this moment, these few weeks between summer and autumn seem to be pretty rubbish, neither one thing nor another. This particular year feels worse to me, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of things to worry about – as well as waiting for the colours to reveal themselves, we’re also waiting to see what’s going to happen next in the world. Maybe you’re finding yourself feeling (much) more anxious than usual?

      How can we best support ourselves in times like these?

      I wonder if you find that just when you most need to support yourself, is also just when you stop doing the things that support you. Just when I know more meditation and yoga will help me, is just when I find it harder and harder to get onto the mat. Just when I know I need to support my immune system with lots of fruit and veg, is just when I reach more frequently for biscuits and cakes. It takes more effort than normal to do those things I need to do.

      A resource I find myself turning to at times like these are Tara Brach’s talks and meditations. She talks about our human experiences, and shares stories. I find myself feeling calmer and more grounded, more connected back to myself and my human nature. When the outside world seems overwhelming, https://www.tarabrach.com/navigating-the-dark-ages/, this talk has helped me. There’s a long list of other talks here https://www.tarabrach.com/talks-audio-video/. You might find yourself drawn to one as you scroll through.

      Finding a counsellor for yourself is also a great way to support yourself. Your counsellor is someone who’ll come to know you well, and only want the best for you. Your counsellor can be there to hear just how awful you find certain times of the year, and you can share everything with them – no need to worry about burdening them, or about having to make time to hear their worries as well. If you think we could work together, fill in a contact form below. If you’d like to have a look at some other counsellors, see who’s out there and who might be a good match for you at difficult times, a good place to start is the BACP Therapist Directory https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists.

      I hope you find some ways to help you through these difficult weeks, and let’s all look forward to the display of reds, yellows and golds that’s coming our way any minute.

        New (academic) year, new you!

        I wonder if this sentiment is familiar to you: New Year, New You!

        I know that when both September and January start their approach, I notice a sense of new leaves turning, and fresh starts being made. I have a belief that these times of year are the ‘right’ times to make changes. So the start of a new calendar year and a new academic year are both times when I feel that things could be different.

        And very often, the new years (academic and calendar) are when I make changes: I might join a new group, start a new class, or change my yoga routine. Maybe the practice of years of doing this mean that I’m correct, these are good times to start things.

        But often, starting things can be a real struggle. We put things off for so many reasons, and even getting round to doing something we really want to do can sometimes just not happen quickly. We might end up missing out on something we thought we wanted, and we can easily criticise ourselves for procrastinating. The received wisdom is that we put off doing things we don’t want to do – even if they lead us somewhere we want to be. Maybe our job is really making us unhappy, but we put off applying for something new because we hate interviews. Or we have always wanted to learn ballroom dancing and a beginner’s class is starting up, but we don’t join it because we hate going to a class for the first time.

        We want the long term thing to come true, but we feel like we can’t tolerate the short term pain we think we’ll have to endure to get there. I wonder if it feels like deciding to take a long distance coach to your destination for your dream holiday!

        I guess I am thinking about this because counsellors report an increase in enquiries to start counselling in September and January. These are the people who know they’d like to feel the benefits of counselling, and have taken the steps they need to start counselling.

        But there must also be people who’d like to have counselling – but who just aren’t getting around to making an enquiry and then booking an appointment. Part of me thinks that you will find counselling when you’re ready. And part of me thinks that maybe you are ready, but you just don’t want the short term pain that you imagine there might be – you are ready, but you’re procrastinating!

        I’d like to reassure you that starting counselling probably won’t be as bad as you think – and you could break the process down into some smaller steps:

        • write a short email text that you want to send to counsellors you might want to work with. Mention the times/days that you are available, and ask any questions you have. You might give a brief outline of the issues you are interested in exploring. Ask if the counsellor offers any initial meetings or chats before agreeing to book a session. You can also say that you plan to contact a number of counsellors as you are looking for the best fit. Have this text ready to copy and paste!
        • look for a counsellor on the BACP Directory (https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists). This means that you know that everyone on there has done an accredited course. Search by your own area and see who appeals to you.
        • contact everyone who appeals to you. You can do this from a form on the BACP Directory – just copy and paste the text you already wrote!
        • keep an eye on your email spam folder, and look out for replies to your enquiries. Read the enquiries, and think about how you’d like to respond – when is going to suit you for an initial meeting or chat? Would you prefer to just jump in and start with someone?
        • set up and have those initial meetings/chats. Ask anything you want, make notes if that’s going to help. Make sure that the times the counsellor has available are times that are going to suit you. You might want to say that you’ll be in touch in the next week if you’d like to go ahead, so you have some thinking time.
        • And hopefully, after all these small steps, you’ve found yourself someone who feels like you’ll be able to work with. Someone who seems trustworthy, and who feels like they’ll be able to ‘get’ you.

        Good luck – with the procrastinating, with the new years and fresh starts, and with starting counselling!

        And if you have a sense that we could work well together, just send me a message on the contact form, or send an email to jessica@jessicatettcounselling.co.uk

        Ambulance Service Staff

        As you may know, I used to work for the Scottish Ambulance Service, as an EMD (emergency call handler) for five years, and then as an EDQ (auditor of emergency calls). It’s been over a year now since I left, and I am delighted to now be able to offer low cost sessions to ambulance service staff.

        If you are working for an ambulance service in the UK, and you are interested in counselling, whether for something work related or not, do get in touch to arrange an initial meeting or book in a first session.

        These sessions cost £35 for 50 minutes. I’m happy to work weekly, fortnightly or less often, and understand the demands of shift work. Apart from the difference in cost, these sessions will be no different from any other sessions I offer, and you will be treated the same as any other client.

        I look forward to hearing from you.

          Reading Well

          Just a quick note to point you in the direction of an NHS programme of bibliotherapy: Reading Well. It’s all about recommending books that might be helpful for you to read to support your mental health.

          A lot of the books are available from your local library, and most libraries nowadays use the Libby app so you can download your books direct to a device without having to go anywhere. This also means that the books are returned automatically – so no more library late fines!

          There’s a huge list of books on Reading Well – I hope you find something that helps you!

          Why is counselling good?

          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.

          Getting ready for a session

          There are different things you might want to do before a counselling session.

          During the session it’s important that you feel as comfortable as you can. I wonder what that means for you: do you need a special place, or your favourite drink? Would you like a cushion or a pet on your lap? If you have your session at the same place as you are working from, how can you make your counselling time different to your work time? Could you move your device/chair so you have a different point of view? Can you cover your work stuff so that it doesn’t distract you? If there are other people around, maybe you could put a sign on your door so that you won’t be interrupted.

          If you have time, you might find that going for a quick walk before a counselling session can be a good time to set aside the rest of your day, and clear your head. Some people like to do some mindfulness before a session: you might want to set aside a short time to sit quietly, and turn your attention to each part of your body, noticing how it feels, and if there is any tension held anywhere. Feel your feet on the floor, feel any contact your body is making with anything else. How does your body feel right now? If doing this doesn’t feel right to you, don’t worry, it’s just an idea.

          Something you could ask yourself is how you would like to use your counselling session. The best thing for you might be to show up, and see what comes with you. Or you might have a particular topic you’d like to explore. Maybe you are coming to counselling with a specific goal in mind, and you want to talk about something connected to that goal. Do you keep a diary or a journal? This might be a good place to look if you aren’t sure what would be helpful. Has something happened that left you with some feelings that surprised you – maybe a situation that your head tells you is simple, but your feelings and emotions don’t agree.

          You might need to try different things before your sessions until you hit on the thing that’s right for you – or you might do something different every time! There’s no one ‘right’ way to prepare, but there might be a right way for you – something that supports you in getting the most from your counselling session.

          Our First Session

          If you haven’t had counselling before, or even if you have, you might be wondering what will happen when we meet for our first session.

          Before our first session, we might have had a quick chat on the phone or over Zoom, just to check that we are a good match, or we might have exchanged emails setting up the appointment. You’ll already know something of how I work, and I might know something of what brings you to counselling.

          At our first session, there is some information I need to share with you, and some information I need to get from you. I’ll go over confidentiality, some boundaries and anything else you need to know about the counselling relationship. I’ll check with you that you are set up comfortably for our sessions and the times just before and after. Then I’ll ask you about your experience and expectations of counselling, and what you are hoping for. I’ll also want to know what support you have around you, and what you typically reach for to support yourself when times are hard. I’ll also ask if there’s anything else you think I should know.

          First sessions are different from other sessions, I might feel like I am interrogating you when I ask you all these questions. In a typical session, what we talk about will be led by you – it’s your time to explore whatever you want. And our first session is still your time, we can start talking about what has brought you to counselling if you would like to. Also, we don’t have to do this. It might feel better for you to wait until a future session to get into it. You’ll know best what is right for you.

          It’s not unusual to find unknown situations scary – when we don’t know what’s going to happen, our bodies might worry that we are in danger, and get ready to protect us. If you are interested in starting counselling with me, I hope this information has helped you have a better understanding of what you might be getting into. Remember that you can also ask questions before we meet, and at any time during our work.

          Contact me if you’d like to know more, or if you’d like to book a first session: