What is counseling?
There are many myths about counseling going around. Some people may think that counseling is for “crazies” or that only “weak” people need it. Or that a counselor will read your mind and prescribe a solution that you simply need to implement. Or that you would have to lie down on a couch and say everything there is to say about your childhood. Or that you will be told exactly how to live your life and who to be. But counseling is none of these things.
Counseling is a meeting of two people: you – an expert on how you feel and how your life looks like, and me – an expert in using psychological knowledge, skill and methods as well as my own empathy to support you emotionally, to help you understand your problem, find solutions and make them work in the real life. In this meeting we work together, collaborating on the task of making your life better, in an environment that is non-judgmental, supportive, safe and confidential.
Who can use counseling?
Anyone who experiences any kind of psychological distress or feels they have unmet emotional needs can use counseling. However, if you suffer from any psychiatric conditions or more pronounced or chronic psychological conditions, like chronic depression, bipolar disorder etc., counseling may not be enough. You can still use it and benefit from it, but you might need more support than counseling can offer, since many of these conditions have a physiological, organic component which needs to be managed by specialists, like psychiatrists or neurologists.
Note: If your level of distress is very high or if you have persistent suicidal thoughts, you need assistance in managing this crisis which I as a private practitioner am not in a position to offer, as I am not always reachable. If this is the case, call your doctor, your local helpline or one of those helplines for emergency help.
How can counseling help?
Talking out loud about what’s bothering you to someone who knows how to listen and can be trusted to keep it confidential can give you a whole new perspective on your problem. Expressing emotions can help calm them enough for you to learn to regulate them. Exploring your problem in the context of your life can bring you new insights about who you are, what you need, what you want, what is your life all about. These insights can then help you take authorship of your life and find ways to shape it in meaningful and satisfying ways. Depending on your particular circumstances, needs and goals, counseling can help you to:
- manage your difficulty, if it cannot be solved (e.g. if you have a chronic condition which is distressing for you)
- find ways to solve your difficulty and free yourself from the psychological and emotional distress it was causing you
- develop new skills, resources and strengths, which will make you more resilient and better able to cope with difficulties in the future
- grow personally, socially, emotionally and spiritually, find more meaning in life and learn to live in a more balanced, peaceful and joyful way
How does the process of counseling look like?
My main aim in counselling is to help you understand your problem and find and use in practice these methods, tools and resources which make sense to you and which will allow you to create a real change in your life and in the way you feel. I will also all the while support you in facing the difficult emotions in you, making it possible for you to process and transform them.
If you decide to participate in counseling with me, we will most probably start with an exploration of the difficulty which you wish to solve. We will analyze how it influences your life, try to figure out what causes it and what it actually is. I will also help you cope with any immediate negative emotions or distress you might be feeling and help you get some emotional relief. Once we understand the problem well enough, we can talk about your goal or goals for counseling. What do you want to achieve by the end of it? How do you want your life to be like after this difficulty is solved? What type of real life changes are we aiming at? With this goal in mind we can then begin to look for possible ways of achieving it and try out different methods which can bring you closer to your goal, choosing those which work best for you. Armed with proper tools, we can now start working on the actual change. This often requires some effort, since changing old habits can be hard work. I will be there by your side to support you, cheer you on and celebrate the successes with you each step on the way, until your life becomes what you want it to be.
Changing your life takes work. You may need to face and learn to cope with unpleasant emotions or challenge some of your assumptions about yourself or the world, and change some old habits. The reward of all this work can be a life which is no longer plagued by so much turmoil, pain or anxiety, life more balanced, joyful, harmonious and peaceful. It will not be perfect – nothing ever is. But it can be much better and it can be easier for you to face the challenges of the future. You don’t need to keep surviving. If you put in the effort, you can learn to thrive. I make it my life’s work to help you and others achieve it, if this is what you want to do.