As a female counsellor I have often worked with women who, for one reason or another appear to the outside world to â€˜have it all' and they come into therapy upset and frustrated that they apparently have â€˜no reason' to feel as they do.
It's almost as if she feels her feelings are not justified.
So where would a counsellor start? If a client is unhappy now but wasn't unhappy before then something has changed. It may sound obvious but often, changes in their life may be subtle, such as a general feeling of losing control over their lives, a different stage in a relationship or problems at work.
Some women may have been unhappy before and despite great achievements in career or family, still search for â€˜that thing' that will eventually make them happy.
Other changes may be so big that she is unsure how to cope with them: redundancy, marriage, separation, childbirth or a period of depression can lead to a sense of hopelessness and isolation that she feels no-one will understand if she tries to express how she feels.
As a counsellor I work with my clients to understand what is different and how. Just as importantly, though, we try to find ways for her to regain control of herself even if the situation itself feels out of control.
What next? Through working with her counsellor the client should start to have a clearer picture of what her main issues are and what, if anything, she wants to be different. From that point we would agree goals and next steps each week to enable her to see progress on these issues.
So why a female counsellor? Why indeed? At Godalming Therapy Practice we have male and female counsellors to give prospective clients a choice. There is absolutely no difference in our training or qualifications. My colleague and I have both been practising therapists for over 7 now years but we do work differently, simply because we are different personalities. As counsellors we always strive to be non- judgemental, honest, supportive and open to whatever it is clients want to bring. Some women prefer to work with women, some women prefer to challenge some of their preconceptions and work with a male practitioner. There is no â€˜wrong' choice, only what feels right for her at the time.
So how long will this take? This process can be as long or as short as the client needs it to be. If she has one specific issue that she wishes to address for now, then we can work in a solution focused style to bring about measurable results in a relatively short time period. If the issue is more involved and she feels lost, confused or depressed then we would work more humanistically. Here we would explore, together, what is inducing these feelings and emotions and discover the most effective way to give her the knowledge and tools she needs to control and change them.
By Bridget Walford MBACP Counsellor and Psychotherapist
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