CN: counselling, suicide

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My relationship with therapy started early. When I was 8, I had only a vague idea about what therapists do when I asked my mum if I could see one. I couldn’t put ‘why’ into words. I only saw her once and we talked about school and friends. I left feeling confused and a little embarrassed.
When I was at university, a friend suggested I sign up for free CBT counselling. In one session, I learned about the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour and how to spot my own unhelpful thoughts. I wasn’t sure what to do with it but I felt a little more in control of my mental health.
I considered going back to counselling several times, but it wasn’t until a year had passed that I actually got around to it. I went to see Polly because I wanted a place where I could safely express all my thoughts and feelings. I cried in front of a stranger for the first time, and it felt good to feel seen without judgement.
After my counsellor deemed I was ‘ready’ (and probably in part due to budget cuts), I started meeting weekly with a group in the presence of a trained counsellor. If crying alone in my counsellor’s office felt new, group therapy held many more surprises. I learned at least as much about other people as I did about myself. It made me feel less alone in my struggles, a feeling I still carry with me now.
When group therapy had run its course, my final year exams were right around the corner. The feeling of not being OK crept up on me and grew quickly out of control. Thanks to the encouragements of my nurse and Tutor, I sought out help and found myself back in a counsellor’s office.
I saw a college counsellor and incredibly busy academic for two sessions. When she started dosing off in our second session, the absurdity of it made me laugh. I  knew I deserved better. Before I left, she shared with me the story of how she used to obsess over a tiny mole below her left eye. Even high-powered academics have insecurities.
Ruth, a college CBT counsellor recently hired thanks to an outgoing Welfare Officer, did her best to help me in the few weeks we had. Her dedication and the tools she taught me are something I’m really grateful for. I use them almost every day.
I’ve been seeing Andrea for 7 months now. Private therapy, even online, is a luxury I’m grateful to be able to afford. Her support and straight-talking make me feel like anything is possible. I think I might even be ready to fly solo for a while, without the support of a therapist – though I cannot put into words the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to.

3 thoughts on “It’s not as simple as just seeing a counsellor

  1. As a psychologist I really enjoyed reading this from the perspective of a client. Finding a good therapist is a bit like finding a good hairdresser… you have to fit with and trust that person. Might take a few goes to find one. There may also be, as you have discovered, more than one person on that journey. I admire your persistance.


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