How do I know I am ready to start Counselling?

A Good Question

This is a question I often hear posed by clients, how do I know if I am ready for this process?  This is a good question and a great starting point for counselling.  The answer is really a matter of personal readiness.  It may be that you have come to counselling because you are facing some major life trauma like bereavement, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship, or it could be that you feel there are parts of your personality that you would like to explore more and possibly even make changes to.  It may even be that someone else has suggested that you might find counselling useful like your partner, friend or GP.  


Where Do I start?

It may be difficult to begin when you meet a counsellor for the first time but in my experience the best way is to let the counsellor know what is going on for you in the present.  Whatever is at the forefront of your mind.  Even sharing how you are feeling about starting counselling which may be fear, excitement or nervousness.  Just sitting in the chair and talking about this may help you to feel more at ease and your counsellor will always do his/her best to help you with this.

As you progress through the first session you may feel that you have too much to share or that you can't get it all out.  Remember that counselling is a process, a road that your counsellor will travel with you.  There is no limit on how long this will take so allow yourself to go with the process.


Not Sure If This Is For You?

If you think you would like to begin counselling but are not sure if this is for you then you can arrange an initial session.  Most counsellors offer these and it is your chance to ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable with that counsellor.  It will also allow you to explore with your counsellor if this is the right time for you.  (See also my blog on what to expect in the first session.)

It is no secret that counselling can be a hard journey and challenging at times.  It is important that you are sure that the person taking that journey with you is someone who makes you feel comfortable, understands you and is willing to come with you down the road.  

If you are thinking about starting counselling please feel free to contact me and I will try to answer any questions that you have.



What can you expect from the first session?

Making the decision to start counselling can be a very difficult one for many. As a counsellor I am always humbled by the bravery that my clients exhibit in that first session, telling me their difficulties.  As a counsellor I am always mindful of the courage it takes to share with someone your thoughts and emotions.  If you are thinking about starting counselling I hope this blog will help you to make that decision.

The Initial Meeting.

I always offer an initial session without any obligation.  This is a chance for us to get to know each other and to make sure that we can work together.  I try to make my counselling room as comfortable and welcoming as possible.  During this time we would talk about what it is you are looking for from counselling and discuss some of the difficulties you are experiencing.  I always feel it is important to make it clear what you can expect from me and what I would expect from you, so that you can make an informed decision about whether what I offer is for you.  Although this initial session is more about getting to know each other than counselling it is a good way to start the relationship.   


I offer weekly sessions and try to see people at the same time each week where possible although this is not set in stone.  All my sessions are for a therapeutic hour which is between 50 and 60 minutes. 

What will we talk about? 

Counselling is about you.  We will talk about what is going on for you in your life.  I aim to be supportive and non-judgemental and allow you to go at a pace that is right for you.  There is no right or wrong way to have counselling and it is up to you what you choose to bring to the sessions.  Some clients find it useful to work on what is on there mind when they walk through the door, this can alleviate any worries about what you will talk about.  Opening in this way can lead to worker on deeper issues. 

If you want to have counselling.

If you are considering having counselling please feel free to contact me.  My details can be found on the contact page of this website.  I look forward to meeting you.   



Breaking the Stigma, Who is Counselling For?

Thank You

Firstly a thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read my first blog and for the many comments and feedback that I have received.   

Breaking the Stigma

Last Thursday (9th October) was World Mental Health Day (WMHD)  and it got me thinking about other people's views of who has counselling.  I posted a tweet (@FionaGunasekara) about it being WMHD and was later talking to a business friend who said she didn't retweet it for fear that people would think that she had mental health problems.  This lead me to thinking about counselling and how it is very rarely talked about.  I wonder how many of you reading this would admit to having had counselling before if that is the case?  

I think it is fair to say that there is a stigma attached to Counselling and Mental Health in general, yet some people come to counselling to promote their mental (well) health rather than because of mental (ill) health.  I have always believed that prevention is better than cure and with 1 in 4 of us experiencing some mental ill health at some point in our lives counselling could be an answer.  

I am not saying that counselling has all the answers and for some very mentally unwell people counselling is not the only solution but we have discussions about being healthy.  Whether we talk about visits to the gym or a healthy eating plan or even doing a 'detox' for a while these are normal conversations that we are having with friends and colleagues every day.  Yet when was the last time you admitted to feeling mentally under the weather? Or even knew that was the case?  I am sure that some of you at some time or another have talked about being stressed out, how many of you have thought about this as an issue that counselling could help with?


What can you do? 

First and foremost we can have discussions with friends, family members and colleagues about our Mental Health.  Share with others your experiences of counselling and show that you are not afraid to think about your mental wellbeing.  Although one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lives four in four of us will know someone who has.  


Who is Counselling For? 

I guess the simple answer to that question is all of us!  We all have both physical and mental health and we all need to take care of it.  Talking with friends, family and colleagues is a great way to share our worries but sometimes the ear of a trained professional can really help.  A client said to me recently "This hour a week is the only time in my whole week anyone really listens to what I have to say, the rest of the week I am a wife, business woman and mother, in here I get to be me and I am learning what a nice person that is. I feel so much healthier and happier as a result."  I couldn't have said it better myself.   

Thank you for reading.  I hope that this has inspired you to talk and think about your own attitudes to mental health and wellbeing.  Please DO leave a comment and let's get those conversations started.  





My First Blog

So here I am new to blogging and having done all my research and watched many Utube videos on how to blog I find myself sat staring at a blank screen!   

It leads me to think about my first experience of counselling.  I chose a Psychodynamic counsellor, not for any particular reason, in fact at that point I wasn't really sure what psychodynamic was.  She just lived close to me and was within a price range that I could afford.   

The First Session

I remember that first session so well.  I was very nervous and totally unsure what to expect (a bit like I am writing this blog)!  I arrived at least ten minutes early as I didn't want to be late and wasn't 100% sure where I was going.  This lead to an anxious ten minute wait in my car whilst my mind plagued me with thoughts of what she would be like and what she would ask me?  Would she be able to take one look at me and know my every thought?

Finally my the ten agonising minutes were up and I found myself at her front door.  As I pressed the bell I was still wondering what she would be like.  I was met with an older lady dressed all in black with a lovely warm smile.  As we climbed the stairs to her room I remember thinking, "I think I've made a good choice here."   

The room itself was a moderate size with two chairs and a chaise lounge.  There was a small window in the far wall of the room but as we were on the second floor all that could be seen was trees.  I did not realise at that time how often I would come to look at those trees as they changed with the seasons and wonder if their change was symbolic of my own.

My counsellor went through the initial contract and we discussed how frequently I would attend sessions and agreed the rate that I was to pay.  We also talked about confidentiality and her cancellation policy.   

That first session sticks in my mind still whenever I prepare to see a new client.  I remember the anxiety and try to emulate the warm smile that first put me so at ease.  She explained to me her way of working and I came to learn the importance of learning to trust in the process. 

The Blank Screen

The Blank Screen as described by Freud was to play a key role in my counselling.  Although I never made it onto the couch, preferring to sit facing my counsellor, she would often sit very still and without any expression on her face.  This would allow me to project my own thoughts and feelings onto her and to allow me to make conscious my unconscious thoughts thus allowing insight to take place.

In Practice 

In my practice today I do not use a chaise lounge or couch of any sort preferring my clients to be able to sit facing me.  However, having since trained as a psychodynamic counsellor I do believe very much in the process of making the unconscious conscious.    What was most useful for me was to have someone listen and make relevant interventions when they felt it was useful.  I do work with some silence in the room as I think this is a powerful tool and after-all we all need time to think and process now and then, but I feel that the most crucial part of counselling is the relationship.  It is so important that clients and supervises alike feel comfortable and that the environment is one of respect and non judgement.  

I always try to offer a warm smile when opening the door and always remind myself what it can feel like in the first session.   I became a counsellor because I am interested in people and love to feel that I am helping others in some way, not because I wanted  to be able to look at someone and analyse their every thought!

Thank You 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, my very first blog.  I would love to hear your comments and ideas about future blogs that you would be interested in.