How can counselling and psychotherapy help?
The aim of counselling and psychotherapy is to improve your well-being and mental health. It does this by helping you to explore and transform your psychological, emotional and behavioural patterns; the ones that get in the way of fully living your life and being who you really are.
So, what’s the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?
If you’re experiencing difficulties in your daily life, counselling can help you determine how to do things differently by offering up solutions. If you then have trouble putting these solutions into practice, that’s where psychotherapy comes in.
Psychotherapy finds what’s ‘underneath’ the problem or situation or difficulty. It unearths the reasons why you keep getting stuck, keep hitting brick walls or feel like there are always road blocks in the way. It gets to the root cause of more longstanding, more deeply ingrained problems or reccurring life situations.
In reality, the dividing line between counselling and psychotherapy is not sharp, and both processes might be happening in a single session.
Why seek counselling or psychotherapy?
Often people seek out a counsellor as a last resort. They wait until small cracks in their life become big ones that turn into chasms and feel like they’re going to swallow them up.
There’s a real stigma in Australia around seeking help when we’re struggling (particularly among men). We’re supposed to just ‘suck it up’ or ‘harden up’ or just ‘get over it and get on with it.’ So we wait - sometimes until we feel like we’re going crazy – to turn to a professional for support.
Here’s the good news: if you’re facing challenges right now, whether they’re tiny or monstrous, there’s actually nothing wrong with you! It’s ok to feel like you can’t quite cope or that you’ve lost your way a bit. You just need a little support from someone with experience and expertise to get you back on track.
Different types of therapy explained
I work with a combination of leading-edge and traditional treatment methods. Using different modalities, I draw on what seems most suitable for you at any given moment.
Here’s a brief explanation of each modality.
Mindfulness-based counselling and psychotherapy
Mindfulness is about developing a warm-hearted and accepting awareness of your experience in the present moment. It offers the opportunity to work with and transform issues as they arise in the here and now.
Mindfulness is very effective for anxiety, depression and other mood and emotional problems. A regular mindfulness practice increases your self-awareness and makes it a lot easier to access and tolerate difficult experiences without feeling overwhelmed. This assists you in working through psychological difficulties and blocks.
Body-based psychotherapy focuses on the interactions between our mind and our body. It utilises body awareness, breathing, posture and movement to access and work with the more subconscious and non-verbal layers of the mind. It is a very powerful yet gentle way of accessing and working with the subconscious mind. The interconnectedness of mind and body has become an area of great interest to me. I spent the first 30 years of my life with an over-active mind, disconnected from my body (disembodied) and have experienced the profound changes and benefits of learning to be connected in mind and body (embodied).
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is a mindfulness based therapy aimed at helping you develop a rich, full and meaningful life. It helps you clarify your values and develop attitudes and techniques so you can move forward with actions that improve and enrich your life.
Positive Neuroplasticity Training (PNT)
PNT helps you to cultivate positive mind states such as gratitude, calm, self-compassion, confidence and joy, turning them from fleeting states into lasting traits. It is about intentionally using your mind to change your brain.
The importance of the right connection
There are a lot of psycho-therapeutic modalities around. Perhaps surprisingly though, research has found that the therapeutic relationship itself is essential to the success a client experiences. Some studies have even called the quality of the therapeutic relationship the most important common factor to successful outcomes.
From my own experience, I know that a counselling or psychotherapy session can be upsetting or challenging at times. It’s not easy for most people to share a personal, private and often painful part of themselves with someone they’ve just met. My priority therefor is to help you to feel safe, at ease, respected and understood, and from feedback from my clients it seems that that is exactly how they feel when working with me. From there we can truly connect and begin to make positive changes.
My style of counselling is gentle, authentic and compassionate. Whilst I have a number of modalities to draw on, I find that sometimes it’s more important to just sit and ‘be’ with someone where they’re at... no matter how difficult or extreme their situation.
A therapy session is not an ‘ordeal’ to bear, but an opportunity to get support for life issues that are simply too difficult or complex to deal with by yourself. Therapy sessions are often an illuminating, relieving, even inspiring time, where you will usually walk away feeling better. You will discover more about yourself and learn how to release what isn’t serving you and embrace what is already within you that will help you to live an enriched, positive and confident life.