A few months ago met a young man who had recently become a father. Since the dynamic shifted in his relationship, he'd found himself struggling with how to best communicate with his wife.
When we met he was back at work while his wife was on parental leave. My client shared that she often rings during the day and talks about struggling to get their daughter to sleep or to stop crying. The young man would generally reply with advice and from there, the conversation would spiral into an argument.
I challenged him to shift his communication from a “diagnose and prescribe” style to listening with empathy. He was nervous about this change because he felt as though simply listening was doing nothing. Nevertheless, I set him a challenge and when he came back a week later, the very first thing he did was beam with joy telling me how much his relationship with his wife had improved since simply listening to her rather than trying to fix her problems.
In chatting further with him, I learned that he’d had many conversations with friends and family offering advice on what to say, yet this was the first time he’d discussed what NOT to say. He found the success and simplicity of my reframe incredibly surprising.
Often, the people we lean on the most are those closest to us.
Yet, despite their best intentions, those close to us are not always the most qualified to help us navigate through our challenges.
People who've known you for a long time often grapple to see your situation objectively. They share advice from their own paradigm and based on their own experiences.
Those closest to you want what's best for you, and they, understandably, don't want to see you get hurt, suffer, or struggle. But, as uncomfortable as it is, the struggle is often necessary for growth and change.
And in some cases, because your growth often makes others question their choices, it's possible that those close to you don't want you to change. Either consciously or subconsciously.
Most of us also switch on the advice-giving mode when trying to help a friend. Although our intentions are good, our advice doesn't always leave space for our friends to fully explore all their options.
Talking to someone trained in guiding difficult conversations can help you express your thoughts and feelings clearly and find the right direction for progress.
It allows you to look at the situation objectively, without bias – which can be hard to do when talking to close friends or family members.
What is counselling
Counselling is a process that involves talking to a trained therapist about whatever it is that’s challenging you.. It can help you to understand and manage your feelings, thoughts and behaviours, both in your private and professional life.
The aim is to help you gain insight into yourself. To identify and modify unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaviour, develop better coping strategies for dealing with difficult situations in life, and enhance your overall mental health.
Counselling may also involve helping you set goals and find ways to achieve them with the therapist's support.
Counselling is a collaborative process between the therapist and you
It's not about the therapist rapid-firing advice or telling you what to do. Instead, it is about providing an environment where you can feel safe enough to explore your thoughts and feelings to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and the situation. This can help you decide how to move forward in life.
During the counselling session, you can talk openly and honestly about your thoughts and feelings. For this to work, it is vital to find the therapist that is the right fit for you. A trusting relationship is paramount to seeing success in counselling.
The different forms of counselling
In your first consultation, your therapist will work with you to identify the best option and treatment plan.
It's also good to remember that counselling is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so trying more than one type is ok before finding the right fit.
Who can benefit from counselling
I may be a little biased, however, I truly believe that we can all benefit from having someone to talk to. Whether you're struggling with a difficult life transition, coping with relationship difficulties, or simply looking to gain a greater understanding of yourself, counselling can provide valuable insights and support.
Counselling can help you better understand yourself and the issues you're facing, leading to changes that produce real and lasting improvement in your life.
Counselling is particularly well-suited for people looking to address mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, grief or loss. You can develop the tools needed to manage uncomfortable emotions and difficult situations through counselling sessions with a qualified professional.
What to expect in your first counselling session
Attending your first counselling session can feel like a big step. You may be feeling nervous and unsure of what to expect. Just know that counselling is a safe place to talk candidly and be honest about your thoughts and feelings.
Have a winning day,