If you feel stuck and unable to deal with some of the obstacles that life throws in your way, counselling can help you to surmount those obstacles and to move forward in your life.
The type of counselling you seek or choose should reflect your needs at that time but, if your circumstances or needs change, it may be necessary to review or reconsider the type of counselling that is most appropriate for you. For example, if your one-to one counselling concerns a relationship issue, you may then decide that the process should involve your partner and so wish to engage with couples counselling.
I will always try to be flexible and responsive to your needs and preferences
In one-to-one counselling sessions, a client can explore various aspects of their life and feelings, talking about them freely and openly with someone who will listen attentively, patiently and without judgement. I offer a relationship based on unconditional acceptance and respect that is without agenda and may not be possible with friends or family.
The one-to-one counselling process is very much a two-person activity; only by establishing a level of mutual trust and respect will you feel comfortable enough to look at intimate aspects of your life, relationships and inner self which you may not have previously considered or even been prepared to face.
I will not give direct advice or instruction but rather seek to enable possible choice or change for you. As we explore your feelings and thoughts about your present difficulties, both in the context of past experiences and hopes for the future, you will hopefully begin to identify possible options for resolution or accomodation.
Counselling for couples
Couples counselling is a form of therapy that looks to improve communication and resolve issues within the intimate relationship between two people. Although this relationship can be one of the closest we have, choosing a partner and staying together through life's twists and turns is rarely as simple or romantic as we would like. Deciding to co-habit and/or get married, raise a family together & take on associated social and financial commitments can only add to the complexity.
Whether you find your occasional tiff escalating into full-blown arguments or you have simply stopped having fun, very few relationships exist conflict-free and if you feel yours is beginning to falter, health and happiness often suffers. After being in a relationship or marriage for a long time, it can be easy to fall into the trap of not listening to the other person or not communicating needs clearly.
While for many of us our first instinct is to try and work through problems alone, if you are concerned about your relationship (for whatever reason) and feel you are unable to reach a conclusion alone, it is likely that you will benefit from couples counselling. You will be given the opportunity to speak to an impartial professional who has no preconceived notions of who you are as a couple, but has the skills and training behind them to guide you through your concerns.
There are many different concerns that may bring you to couples counselling including: -
- lack of trust folowing betrayal or affair
- lack of communication
- financial issues
- work-related stress
- different sexual needs or other sexual issues
- family conflicts
- different goals and values
- life changes
For some, the suggestion of couples counselling is considered a 'last resort' to save a relationship/marriage. While this may sometimes regrettably be the case, you do not have to wait until things get that bad before trying couples counselling. Many couples use therapy sessions as a way of keeping their relationship healthy and address any underlying concerns that may become conflicts in the future.
It is important to remember that when you come to couples counselling, I will not simply be telling you what to do or offering you my own opinions on how to conduct your relationship. My role is rather to facilitate change and resolution by helping you both to communicate more effectively and reach your own conclusions with my impartial but supportive guidance.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is has become one of the most widely used forms of talking therapy. It is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and has been shown to be as effective as medication for many common mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Unlike some other therapies, which may be rooted in past events and experiences, CBT is more focussed on the present and how current concerns can relate to the future. This type of therapy is very practical, structured and solution-focussed (rather than insight-based) and looks at realistic ways for resolving problems. It is particularly helpful for those with specific (rather than more complex) mental health issues such as anxiety and/or depression, phobias, eating disorders & addictions.
You will be expected to take a proactive role within your treatment by completing tasks at home between sessions; while the sessions offer support and space to explore your concerns, it is the work you do outside of your sessions that can have the most impact. By staying focussed and completing homework tasks, you will hopefully start to develop a stronger sense of self-confidence and self-belief, helping yourself to progress more quickly.
"Third Wave" CBT approaches include Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), all of which include an element of Mindfulness within their process.
Working with addictions
Addictions usually fall in to one of two categories – substance addictions (e.g. alcohol, prescription or ‘recreational’ drugs, tobacco) or process addictions (e.g. gambling, sex, internet gaming, shopping). They are all characterised by similar behavioural features i.e.
Addiction is a disorder of the brain’s reward, motivation and memory circuitry; brain scans show that the associated structures in the brains of addicts have characteristically physical differences to those of non-addicts. Addictions usually develop as a coping strategy to escape or numb underlying unhappiness or pain. Therapy seeks not only to identify the contributory factors in the development of addiction but also to establish alternative less damaging ways of coping and patterns of behaviour.
Sex addiction is not about wanting lots of sex or having a high libido (sexual drive). Sex is a natural and enjoyable activity, but sex addiction can be described as any sexual behaviour or activity that is ‘out of control’, compulsive and ultimately destructive. Sex addicts have no control over their urges and many find it impossible to stop once they start.
A key factor in the development of any addiction is opportunity or access to the source of the addiction - the incidence of sex addiction has increased exponentially due to the easily accessible material and opportunities for sexual interaction afforded via the internet.
Behaviours that may be indicative of sex addiction include:- compulsive masturbation, using prostitutes, having unsafe sex, sexual exhibitionism, multiple one-night stands and sexual partners, voyeurism, sexual harassment, cybersex, persistent use of pornography and, in extreme cases, sexual assault or abuse. Depression, anxiety, shame and even suicidal thoughts can be consequences of their addiction. Resorting to their sexual compulsions becomes the primary coping mechanism for avoiding or numbing these difficult feelings, so a vicious circle of dependency develops.
Sex addiction can be devastating to the lives of those affected, particularly for spouses or partners of addicts. Sex between a couple is an expression of intimacy and mutual trust, so the idea that a partner could be a sex addict without their knowledge can seem like a profound betrayal, no less so than the discovery of infidelity.
Other consequences of a sex addiction can include the risk of sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies, financial difficulties from spending money on prostitutes or sex chat lines and neglecting work or social responsibilities in favour of participating in the sexual behaviour(s) to which they are addicted.
As with any other addiction, sex addicts need treatment in order to recover - without treatment, the addiction will become progressively worse.
You need to be aware that seeking novel or riskier types of behaviour in the pursuit of heightened levels of sexual stimulation can lead to activities that are illegal and likely to lead to criminal prosecution.