I often get asked the question “Why should I go to counselling” as if there is a textbook, one size fits all answer. There is no straightforward way to sum up the importance of counselling, because in my eyes the benefits of counselling is personal in nature and therefore, infinite. For this reason, I often offer three broad reasons why going to counselling is important. In the following paragraphs I am going to explain these three reasons.
Many of us are fortunate enough to say that we have incredible family, friends or colleagues. However, how often do we feel completely and totally safe to share our innermost struggles, the things we are afraid of most or even the things we are ashamed of with those closest to us? The reasons people come to counselling are endless, whether it is for anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, addiction, trauma or otherwise, every now and then we just can’t bring ourselves to talk about these difficulties with the people that knows us best.
This is one reason why counselling is important. It creates a safe space for disclosure and exploration. By entering the counselling environment, you are entering an environment that was purposely shaped to provide security and safety. Security and safety takes many forms, it can be disguised as having a trained professional ready and willing to journey with you, right down to something as easily missed as the structure and placement of furniture and the atmosphere in the office. If we are to face our demons, we need to feel safe to do so and that is exactly what counselling provides.
No matter our gender, age, religion or socioeconomic background, unwanted and unpredictable things happen in life and we are left to deal with the consequences. Grief and loss is an inevitable part of life and it comes in all shapes and sizes, but how are we supposed to respond to grief and loss when it walks into our lives? What do we say to people or what can we say to people. The undeniable truth is, there is very little to nothing that can be said that will make it better. What can be of benefit is having a connection- the knowledge that someone is there with us. Someone that listens, someone that makes us feel heard and understood. Very rarely can words make it better, but what does make it better is having someone that sit with us in the pain, without judgment. This is the heart of counselling. To make someone feel heard, without judgment. To allow someone to be understood and seen through their perspective and to have that person know that they are not alone.
One of the first principles we learn as aspiring counsellor is that we are not in this profession to give advice. The counselling environment is facilitative in nature, meaning that as counsellors we don’t take the lead, we simply follow where the client is going and explore where they are taking us as much as possible. In most cases counsellors are more likely to be a sounding board, offering alternatives to how the client is thinking. While I don’t disagree with this perspective, I believe that sometimes we are here to give advice. It is not unthinkable that every now and again a client needs more than just someone that listens. This is why there is an abundance of psychological theories, methods and approaches to counselling . Even though the profession is based on scientific theories and methods, we do recognize that we are working with people and people are far more complex and can’t simply be boxed into one theory, or one method. Depending on the client and the professional relationship, we adapt our knowledge and our approach to best suit your individual needs and this is exactly why counselling is so effective.
I know the thought of opening up towards someone can be terrifying, but if you take one thing away after reading this article, I hope it is the knowledge that counselling renders many individual benefits. So instead of asking why counselling, ask why not?
I don’t know who you are yet, nor do I know what mountains you are up against, but without hesitation I can tell you that your mountain matters to me. I am not all knowing and I am not going to pretend to be. I can’t eradicate your mountain and I can’t climb it for you, what I can do is climb it with you.
I have this wild idea that I can change the world. It’s foolish really, but even if I can’t change the world, but I get to help you change your world, I will consider myself more than lucky.
With that said, it is quite apparent that people and their wellbeing is my passion and purpose. Thus in 2015, I decided to pursue my passion and consequently I enrolled for a BA degree in Psychology and Labour relations at the North-West University. Three years later I graduated with distinction. Thereafter, I was accepted into the Psychology honours course and in 2018 I was rewarded my honours degree. My next goal was to obtain my Masters in Psychology, but if I have learned anything in life, it is that life doesn’t always go as planned.
In April 2019, the opportunity to become an AuPair presented itself and I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, irrespective of the fact that I felt completely out of my comfort zone working that closely with a family and children. Looking back now, I can say that stepping out of my comfort zone gave me the opportunity to grow into a much smarter, stronger and more competent individual. I am extremely grateful for the environment as it allowed me to embed myself within a family and not only learn about children and my own capabilities or insecurities in practice, but also experience marriage, family dynamics and parenting from a close outsider perspective.
In November 2020, I was presented the opportunity to take part in the Vita Nova Counselling course. Another opportunity that I couldn’t allow to slip through my fingers. Over the past four weeks I have been pushed, pressed and challenged to grow into a more competent and confident individual and the experience has been nothing short of life changing. What I have learnt and experienced about different people and myself has changed me and motivated me immensely to become the best possible version of myself that I can be. Not just for myself, but also for those around me. Vita Nova gave me the opportunity to live out my purpose and I can only hope to help you live out yours.