Sometimes we need to seek support to help us through difficult times, times which are challenging,
complex, or confusing or where key decisions need to be made. Sometimes we need external help to
explore our situation, what has brought us to it, consider our options, and make wise choices. It can be
highly useful to have an impartial “other” be with us to support, and challenge us.
If we try to do it on our own, we can delude ourselves, we use the same kind of thinking that got
us into the situation. The greatest skill is in applying different thinking, different ways of looking
at a situation, different ways of how we keep repeating the same patterns in life and it is useful to
have someone help us do that.
When looking for a counsellor or psychotherapist, it is essential to understand the different
therapies they may use. Mostly such help will have to be self- financed so apart from any other
consideration,you want to ensure as far as you can that you pay for what is most helpful.
You may find one therapeutic approach more appealing than another, or some approaches better for certain issues. Having decided on a particular approach it is then important to find a “therapist” with whom it is possible to develop a relationship founded on trust and honesty.
At various times in life I have had to seek such external help. If within the NHS, one takes what one gets and alas my experience of their psychological services (after waiting months to get it) is of appointments with psychologists who could only offer CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and who wanted to have me change my thinking and my values and beliefs and when I wouldn’t, got truly annoyed with me. When my thinking is unhelpful or holds me back, I am willing to change it but some of my beliefs and values are not up for grabs.
When seeking private help, I would consider what I wanted – to talk things through, to be heard, to be informed, to find different perspectives, to be challenged. I would explore which therapy may be the best match eg in examining childhood events which affected my views, thinking, and behaviours as an adult, I found Gestalt therapy very useful. I did not warm to psychodynamic approaches as it seemed all I did was talk and the counsellor nodded or said very little. I needed someone to offer different perspectives, to challenge my thinking (not necessarily have me change it automatically) to help me identify where I was keeping myself stuck. I didn’t find it terribly dynamic!
Two other factors came into play. What was the first impression of the therapist’s
website? Did it ooze simplicity, confidence, clarity or was it filled with jargon and
only generalised promises of what the therapy could do? Were terms and conditions
and fees clearly outlined? Was the language clinical, harsh and lacking warmth or
did it resonate with me? You will have your own thoughts which affect your choices.
I’d also check if there was a photo and detailed biography of the therapist. How
clear was their background? Did it seem up to date? What impressions did you form?
Some people form impressions at a very sub-conscious level. It is important, if you
are looking for someone with whom you will share your innermost thought and
intimate details, that you bring your awareness into a conscious level by exploring
the issue mentioned above.
There are many approaches out there that could help you; you just have to go looking for them. And you may be surprised at what you find. In particular, the NHS offers only a tiny percentage of the totality of healing possibilities.
Begin by doing a web search or getting someone else to do one for you. Even your local library or community centre may be able to help you search.
Key in key words that might name your condition eg – arthritis, diabetes, fatigue, multiple sclerosis, tourette syndrome etc
Or key in key phrases that describe your symptoms –
Every night I have diarrhoea and I vomit and have excruciating pain
I have migratory pain – it moves from the right arm to the left buttock, down the right leg, and over the shoulders
I have pins and needles in the soles of my feet
As you narrow down to possibilities, you can ask further questions.
What are the signs and symptoms of ……?
What are the causes of …?
What are the treatments for the signs and symptom of …?
What are the treatments / cures for the causes of …?
What are the treatments cures for …..?
Ask specifically, “What are the conventional treatments for …?”
Ask more specifically, “What are the alternative, complimentary, non-conventional, natural, metaphysical, spiritual, treatments / cures for …..?”
You will hear of treatments you have never before considered. You will find out about approaches that are totally bewildering and out with everything you have ever known before.
Notice what resonates and follow that path.
Notice what you think is absolutely rubbish and follow that path too! What we resist, persists. If you think something is “rubbish” it may be the very thing that is calling you to take heed.
You will discover many approaches not available on the NHS, through conventional medicine. But in the UK, on the NHS, the world is limited:-
It is reductionist - The medical system in the west is anchored in ‘hard science’. It is built upon a foundation that is necessarily ‘reductionist’. ‘Reductionism’ simply means looking at a piece of a system, rather than the whole. A doctor sees fungus on your tongue and gives you a lotion. He or she never considers why the fungus is there and instead treats the cause eg by addressing the gut microbiome, your nutrition, your lifestyle that so stresses you out it affects what you eat and how you process what you eat. In western medicine, we can remove a heart and replace it. That is ‘reductionist’. We can provide dialysis to enable necessary functions to occur by passing dysfunctional systems. This is reductionist. Western medicine as a whole never apologises for it’s ‘reductionism’. After all, it has given rise to extraordinary understandings of our bodies and how they work. It has enabled development of technological aids that have incalculable value. BUT IT IS NOT THE WHOLE PICTURE A reductionist attitude towards healing and treatment means the patient becomes little more than an object of medical treatment and a battleground on which to fight disease. How patients feel about their treatment and the role of the patient's mind and emotions while in health care settings become side issues to the imperative of treating the body.
It is narrow – offering only surgery, drugs, and radiation. However you want to define the vast array of what the NHS offers, it is narrow.
But there is a huge world out there that offers more than just surgery, drugs, and radiation. And you owe it to yourself to research it
A complementary therapy is one that can be used in addition to, or instead of, conventional western medicine.
An alternative therapy often claims to be a complete system, which can be used instead of conventional western medicine.
Here is a list of some therapies you may encounter.
Advanced Biostructural Correction
Bach flower remedies
Counselling – talk therapies
Dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals and
EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques
Herbal and botanical preparations, such as herbal extracts
Hydrotherapy, - water-based approaches like hot and
cold wraps etc
KCR -kinetic chain releasing
Neuro feedback therapy
Oxygen therapy -
Physical therapy and exercise therapy, including massage
and other gentle techniques used on deep muscles and
joints for therapeutic purposes
Stress reduction / management therapy
Traditional Chinese medicine
You may also find that therapies are listed by type
Behavioural therapies. Behaviourism assumes that all behaviour is learnt from your environment (ie people, events, and situations as you grew up) and that your symptoms are acquired through
learning by association or by reinforcement (e.g. rewards and punishment.) Medical professionals use this type of therapy to replace bad habits with good ones. The therapy also helps you cope with difficult situations and is most often used to treat anxiety disorders. Such therapies include:-
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Therapists create treatment plans specifically tailored to individual conditions. Some activities may include:
activities to promote focus
breathing and relaxation methods
discussions about coping mechanisms
modification strategies in response to anger, fear, and pain
social skills training
Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies, which focus on the unconscious relationship patterns that evolved from childhood.
Psychoanalysis mostly involves exploring early childhood experiences in order to discover how these might have shaped the individual and how they contribute to current actions and situations. People undergoing psychoanalytic therapy may remain in therapy for a number of weeks, months, or years.
Humanistic therapies focus on self-development in the 'here and now' and take a holistic view of human existence. At its core, is a belief in people’s ability to develop their own potential and to take charge of (re)forming their own life.
Human Givens psychotherapy
Person-centred therapy (also known as "client-centred" counselling)
Solution-focused brief therapy
Humanistic therapies offer a variety of models and exercises for managing change including problem solving and overcoming psychological obstacles in pursuing new possibilities and a more fulfilling life.
Art therapies use creative arts within the therapeutic process
Arts therapies are a way of using music, art, dance or drama in a therapeutic environment with a trained therapist. The therapist helps you to express yourself by creating something – such as a piece of music, a painting or a play. As many of us find it difficult to express our feelings, this can help you express your feelings, often without using words.
Couples counselling seeks to have couples resolve issues between them. marriage guidance counselling, relationship counselling or pre-marriage counselling.
A relationship doesn't need to be in crisis for couples to agree to counselling.
The counsellor may integrate Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) into their work. This process helps make sense of relationship distress and helps clients understand and change negative patterns into more secure and safe connections. Couples learn to reconnect and work towards a stronger emotional bond.
Counselling - for more information on what counselling is and who and how it can help, and the different forms of counselling for you as an individual, please click here; the website opens in a new page. In