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"The Power of Patience: Why Great Things Take Time"

It is the question I am asked the most when someone first starts counselling sessions; "How long will it take to feel better?"

I understand the impatience,I also get the concern over how much money this might cost but perhaps its worth considering things in a slightly different way.

You have lived this way or felt this way for a long time. Maybe all your life, maybe 20 or 30 years or more so why would it be sorted, fixed, be better in a matter of weeks?

Counselling is not a quick fix or a band aid. Its perhaps more like surgery; cutting the wound open, digging around a bit and then stitching back up, allowing time for the healing process too.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is very solution focused with aim of getting people back in the game quickly. The NHS likes this form of therapy for that very reason and it certainly has its place but I feel it can be a band aid. Not really sorting the problem for the longer term like perhaps Person Centred Therapy can or other modalities.

A client attending a first counselling session is, understandably nervous and apprehensive but by the end of the hour can be happily sharing things they never thought they would share with a stranger. This is liberating and freeing and they leave the room feeling so much lighter than when they came in.

There is something special about being given a hour to talk about what has been troubling you. Yes, we can do that with a friend rather than paying a professional but the difference with a qualified counsellor is that they are there just for you; unconditionally and without their own particular set of baggage. A friend will be well meaning but often can't help with jumping in with " oh me too" or " that happened to a friend of mine" and whilst it is comforting to hear that others feel the same way you do, it all of sudden becomes about them and no longer about you. Its not selfish for things to be about you occasionally. Its only when we feel strong ourselves that we can be strong for others and if you are struggling with being heard then no one is winning.

The cost.

Yes, private counselling counselling does cost money. Yes, you could wait on an NHS waiting list but sadly it is very long and even when you reach the top of the queue you can usually only have 6 sessions and not necessarily at a time to suit you.

I am a big fan of the NHS and have personally experienced the best care but its no secret they are struggling and mental health support, in particular, is underfunded and undervalued.

So what is your mental health worth? How much would you pay to stop feeling anxious, feel stronger, more able to cope with what life throws at you?

Many counsellors do reduced fees if you are on a low income or a student and they also offer fortnightly sessions too in order to help spread the cost. But its also worth thinking that what you are spending on sessions you might spend on a night out ( probably more). Counselling is investing in yourself and your future well being. As much fun as a night out with friends is, and can also be therapeutic, is it really addressing the issue?

The time.

In our busy lives it can feel like an added pressure to take time out of work, family etc to go and have a counselling session for an hour. However, many employers are now encouraging of this and often allow time out of work to do just that. Your family life will be easier and improve if you allow an hour to yourself once a week. They will thank you for it.

And if it really is too difficult to carve out the time, along with travel time to the session, then most counsellors now also offer online sessions so it can be done effectively from your own quiet space.

It has to be said that young people can feel better after only 1 or 2 sessions, often because their patterns of behaviour are not as entrenched and they can be more open to change. For adults with more complex histories and traumas things can take a little longer. Maybe 6 sessions to begin with, maybe more. Perhaps have 6, take a break and then come back.

So you see there really is no excuse not to start thinking about you, your wellbeing and ultimately how you want your life to look. But let's not rush things. Take your time to find the right counsellor for you and take your time to feel better. You deserve it.

Kate Haskell MNCPS (Acc)

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