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26th May 2018 
Issues and Problems. confusion

Issues and Problems

Every client brings their own unique story and experience to counselling - a unique problem which needs to be solved. It is my job to help you the client uncover your own personal reasons for your suffering. I will guide and support you through the process working towards a shared goal/outcome at a pace which feels safe and comfortable for you.

Please contact me if you are unsure of your next step and would like to find out how the counselling I offer may be able to help you.

We are relational creatures…
Almost all problems my clients bring are ultimately relational in origin. Problems of not feeling love for their partner; sadness and loss of being rejected; fear of others at work; the need to control others; discomfort of being controlled; loss of someone close; fear or groups; loneliness or lack of love; conflict or disagreement; jealousy; anger.....

We all need others. We can't exist purely on our own - our need for contact, closeness, intimacy, acceptance, love craves fulfilment. However our individual needs can vary wildly. Not everyone wants a partner, yet some people can't tolerate a moment without a partner. Some of us need closeness while others need more space. We are all different yet essentially we are all the same - we need relationships in our lives which feel alive and healthy to us.


Relational health and meaning…
Relationships give meaning to our lives, and while we are all different, when our individual relational needs are not met we suffer - we wither like plants. When this happens it may manifest itself in a myriad of ways.

Case study...
Some years ago I worked with a woman named Janice (name and certain details changed to preserve anonymity) who was struggling with feelings of withdrawal at work. Over a period of two years she had lost interest in her work as a Medical Admin Assistant, finding it meaningless and unsatisfying. She had begun to withdraw from others, and was no longer the efficient, organised and helpful person she felt she had previously been. Her performance had been noticed and impacted her annual appraisal. She reported feeling anger and irritation towards her work colleagues, no longer socialising with them, or sharing lunch breaks. Janice came to me when she felt this was getting out of control. She had taken too many sick days and had been given a warning from her manager.

Initial exploration...
Janice was initially unable to express a goal she wanted to achieve, other than to feel 'happier' and 'get back to normal.' In our first session, during my initial assessment, Janice described her husband as her 'rock', always there for her and supportive when she was feeling down. After a few more sessions I realised she had not mentioned him since our first session. I enquired more into how she spent her time - hoping to discover a little more about her friends and relationships in general. Janice discussed her favourite TV programmes and books and regular sessions at the gym. I asked about friends and relationships she found satisfying and nourishing and while this revealed very little other than past friendships we began to explore her relationship with her husband. Reluctant at first, Janice described how they did many things together outside of work - walking, cycling and enjoying the ourdoors. I was surprised and pleased to hear they did so much together but at the same time I felt that Janice's descriptions were somehow joyless.

Going deeper...
In time, as we explored her experiences and feelings Janice began to reveal that she felt powerless in her relationship; that she felt passive; partly because of her laid-back nature, but more because of her husband's tendency to control things. Janice was hesitant to examine her relationship initially, but as we progressed she began to hint at feeling stifled. She also felt nervous about taking a more active part in the relationship and injecting more of her own needs and wants into her life with her husband. Bit by bit it began to emerge that things had changed for Janice around the time her daughter had left to go to university two years earlier. Janice began to realise that this event had been, and was still, a profound loss for her, and that their daughter had been a huge part of her relationship with her husband. Her daughter's absence meant her relationship with her husband was now more the focus of things. Janice felt disconnected and resistant within the relationship, as if she and her husband had emotionally grown-apart. Her husband took control and insisted they were active and busy, taking little interest, Janice felt, in what she wanted.

New awareness...
Throughout our work together Janice began to untangle her thoughts and feelings and understand that she was feeling a combination of loss, as well as deep fear and sadness at the situation she felt existed between her and her husband. This understanding helped Janice immensely and she began to retreat from the shell she had begun to be drawn into. She and her husband attended some relationship counselling sessions, exploring the changes in their lives, as well as their past and future relationship needs and desires. Janice made good progress with her understanding that her powerful feelings were a normal response to significant life changes and loss, and she was able to be more compassionate towards herself and her husband. This release of internal-pressure allowed Janice to feel a sense of freedom; to return to enthusiasm for her work, friendships and other aspects of her life with a new-found optimism and view of the future.

Summary...
As this story shows, a client's presenting problem may be a leap away from the root cause. Careful exploration of feelings and experiences leads the way; gently uncovering elements which are difficult for the client to face and as a result may have remained outside of the client's awareness. Professional counselling can provide the support, structure and guidance which allow the client to safely explore and find the answers they need.



Image: "Total Confusion" - Woodcut Print - Tamra Pfeifle Davisson