Every client brings a unique situation and story to counselling
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.
Megan is a business owner in her late 40s, married with two late-teen children. Megan had been struggling with a great deal of abdominal pain for the previous nine months, which doctors were unable to diagnose. In addition, Megan was finding herself grinding her teeth badly and clenching her hands into tight fists causing additional pain in her arms, which exacerbated feelings of tension and stress.
Megan came to counselling for three sessions in total. During our first session, Megan shared with me that 18 months earlier she had spent six months nursing her mother in Spain until her death 12 months ago. Following this loss, Megan discovered her mother had been manipulated and coerced into changing her will, leaving her entire estate to a group of local 'friends' with whom she had only recently become acquainted. These 'friends' had been absent during the time Megan was caring for her mother. Megan involved police and lawyers but there was lack of evidence to support fraud or other wrongdoing. After lengthy investigation by the authorities, Megan was forced to accept that her mother's true wishes had been corrupted and wrongful inheritance would likely occur.
Megan had spent the last 12 months grieving the profound loss of her elderly mother. In addition, Megan had been holding on to painful, complicated thoughts and feelings around the events which had taken place outside of her awareness in the months before her Mother's illness. Why hadn't she been more involved? How did those people influence her elderly Mother? Could she have done something to prevent what happened? How can people like that exist?
In our second session, we explored Megan's feelings of sadness, intense anger, confusion and regret, as well as her ways of coping when these feelings occur. We examined other significant experiences in Megan's life, which had been very difficult for her and which still entered her thoughts and feelings today. She continued to carry many unresolved thoughts, feelings and beliefs around specific events which had occurred. It emerged that Megan finds ways to block the feelings out, to somehow shut them away deep inside and not really 'feel.'
Megan attended our third session reporting that she felt completely different and had a new awareness, which she had gained since our last session. Megan explained she no longer viewed the perpetrators as persecutors. She realised she had been giving them power and in doing so had been experiencing herself as powerless and weak. This had undermined her inner safety and destabilised her whole identity. Megan now realised the perpetrators were in fact being controlled and manipulated and were in fact victims themselves. Megan could also see the controlling person as someone who is solely motivated by material gain and only capable of living via deception, manipulation and lies. These realisations freed Megan from her powerlessness and restored her sense of safety and worth. The repressed feelings she was constantly trying to force away had now been channelled and the weight had been lifted. Megan was already feeling free from the physical pain she had endured for so long, and was experiencing a significant reduction in both the teeth-grinding and extreme hand clenching.
It is important to note Megan had not changed her resolve to fight for justice in any way. She had simply freed herself from disabling and destructive beliefs, which had roots in her past, but had manifested overwhelmingly in the last 12 months due to recent traumatic events. Exploring Megan's experiences in a safe but focused way, within a non-judgemental, boundaried therapeutic relationship allowed Megan to process what had happened and untangle the complex pain she had been holding within.
Janice 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.
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.
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.
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.
As this example 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