Is it good to talk?
Working as a personal counsellor in Canterbury I often reflect on the statement. “It’s good to talk” its a phrase that we are all familiar with, and there is clear evidence that, for many people, it’s not just good to talk but it is therapeutic. Many people come into counselling wondering how talking can help and what difference it can make. Others come in desperate to talk, maybe talking openly and honestly for the first time about feelings or events that have troubled them for years. Evidence has shown that the act of talking, reflecting and processing creates new neural pathways. In other words, talking can change the way we think. New patterns of behaviour and new responses to situations are created as we explore and challenge our thinking about ourselves or the situations we find ourselves in. Whether it’s repetitive patterns of behaviour, addictions,, continual problems in relationships, or memories or past experiences that disturb our sleeping or waking hours, counselling can make a real difference.
I run a private counselling service in Canterbury, and see clients of all ages, genders and sexual orientations, but I have become aware of how much of an impact therapy can have on men. Many men who come into counselling come because they have been offered an ultimatum: “sort yourself out or I am off”; or they have come because they are aware of addictions or unhelpful repetitive behaviour patterns, because they are struggling with anger or just because they need to express what they are feeling. Despite the rise of “new man”, many men of all ages still find it hard to talk. Yet from my experience of counselling men, when they start to talk , the results can be life changing. Many men feel unable to express feelings or emotions; often the only emotions they express are anger and frustration. It’s vital for men to learn that they have feelings too, and that they have a right to express them and be heard, not just for their own health and mental well-being, but for their family and friends.
A recent study undertaken by the Samaritans highlights the issue of suicide among men, showing that men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women. A copy of the report can be found here .
Have you ever wondered why a particular person seems to make you respond in a certain way?
Have you ever ended up in a relationship where it feels like the other person is treating you like a child … or where you actually feel like a child yourself? Over the years I’ve been counselling here in Canterbury, I’ve discovered that one of the areas people most want to explore is relationships, past and present.
People often wonder why they seem to end up in the same kind of relationships with the same kind of people. The answer is that when we enter into new relationships, we bring with us all the experiences we have had in our past relationships, and we’re often unaware of how those previous experiences impact upon our current relationships. Transactional Analysis is a way of exploring how previous patterns in relationships impact upon our relationships today.
Counselling is often referred to as “talking therapy”, but for some people, talking is not that easy. My counselling work here in the Canterbury area brings me into contact with many people who find it hard to put into words what’s going on in their lives. For others, the things they’re trying to work through are lurking in their minds somewhere, but feel out of reach. Creative therapy is a way of exploring feelings without the need to be able to articulate them in words. It can often be useful to circumnavigate unconscious defence mechanisms which prevent us from accessing feelings or memories that are troubling us. With the use of non-verbal therapy, these areas can begin to become unlocked. This kind of therapy is not for everyone, but neither is it restricted to those who would naturally call themselves ‘creative’ or ‘artistic’. Using things like colours, shapes and images can be helpful ways for all of us to explore who we are, and to discover hidden areas of our unconsciousness. Creative therapy uses art materials, creative exercises and other non word-dependent interactions, and these can be powerful tools to help us explore our inner world.
For some people, the thought of one to one counselling is a little daunting, but the idea of sitting with a group of people who want to explore their own feelings and situations feels more comfortable. Some people find that their experience of group therapy, and the insights they find there, is sufficient to see them move on in their own lives, while for others it’s a stepping stone towards one-to-one counselling. Over the years I’ve been offering counselling in the Canterbury and East Kent area, I’ve discovered that men in particular find groups an easier way to access counselling.
With all group counselling, those wishing to attend will be asked to have a short one to one conversation, to ensure that group counselling is right for them and to give them an understanding of what to expect.