It is perfectly normal in life to have periods of sadness and periods of joy. In fact, it is part of the human experience. If we had no pain or sadness, we could not recognise or experience true joy – just like white is not white without black.
If we each lived every day in some sort of unfeeling stupor, then how could we claim to be fully alive? Life is a vast expanse of feelings and emotions that are supposed to be experienced…it is all part of who we are.
If we had never loved, we could not know the pain of loss spoken about by Rumi in his thousands of poems and quotes dedicated to love. If we lived our lives in a bubble, pretending that everything was great ALL of the time, then how could we ever know true empathy, compassion and the thrilling heartbeat of fear (which transforms itself into ecstasy the minute we push through the fear and achieve our goals!)? These are the very things that make us human, and that enable us to grow, evolve and eventually feel whole.
So if it’s all just a part of being human – why go for counselling?
It is often when feelings start to spiral out of control that people seek counselling. When an individual feels that they can no longer cope, it is natural to finally make that call for help.
However, contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be breaking down or out of control in order to benefit from counselling. In fact, often, the earlier you seek counselling the better, because you will be stronger and more able to make changes earlier on, whereas later could take more time and more work (saying that, a crisis of some sort often leads to a real breakthrough, so it is not always the case!).
Of course, I do not wish to imply here that counselling is necessary when there is nothing you would like to change about your life! In addition, if you have a very strong, emotionally aware and trustworthy support network around you already, then you may never feel the need to seek counselling even when times are tough.
When might counselling be beneficial?
As implied above, you DON’T need to be on the edge, in panic, going through emotional turmoil or on the brink of divorce. You MAY be any or all of those things, but you may also simply be asking yourself a question or looking for a new direction. You might want to explore some aspect of your life so far, or to contemplate a wider issue such as the meaning of death or the awakening of your spiritual self.
Here are some excellent reasons to seek counselling:
- You’ve experienced a trauma, recently or in the past, and it is negatively affecting your life or your thoughts
- You are not caring for yourself in the way you used to do. This may involve obvious self-destructive habits like physical self-harm, but could also be linked to hygiene, diet and exercise. Perhaps a friend has noticed that you are looking different? Maybe you have lost or put on weight? Often, when we are depressed or anxious, we may feel we are somehow worth less than others, or less than we used to be.
- You’re experiencing conflict with one or more people and you don’t know what to do about it. This could be in your marriage, with a partner, a colleague, your boss, a friend or a family member. Whoever the conflict is with, it makes you feel low and may be affecting your day to day life.
- You find it difficult to interact and engage with others – perhaps you are shy or lacking in self confidence, and this may be holding you back in your private life, your social life, your sex life or in your career.
- You have been through some things in your past that you would like to process – you may never have explored your ‘timeline’ before and would like to put certain things into perspective or understand aspects of your character that you have never thought about deeply before.
- You’ve experienced a loss (be that of a family member, friend, pet or even loss of a relationship that was dear to you) and would like to work through the grief
- You, or somebody close to you, has a diagnosis of physical or mental illness and would like to know how to put coping strategies in place.
- You want to explore your spiritual beliefs and/or make sense of and understand the reason for your existence – without being dictated to about what you SHOULD believe! Therapy can provide a space to explore beliefs.
- You know what you want to do, but you are lacking in motivation and finding it hard to understand why
- You want to take some time out each week to talk about your life purpose, life path, career, relationship goals or other important issue – counselling could help you get a sense of what it is you’re seeking and how you can get there
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. As counselling fortunately becomes less and less of a taboo in Ireland and in Europe as a whole, so people are venturing into the therapy room for different reasons as well as broaching more exploratory topics (“what was my career path meant to be?” “How can I be a better person?” “what’s my next move, given the situation?!”)
How does all of this apply to couples?
The same applies to couples. Though many couples believe that therapy is only for those who are ‘losing the battle,’ there are now more and more couples seeking therapy at the start of a relationship in order to build strong foundations for growth further down the line, and hence AVOID the need for ‘emergency’ therapy later on in the relationship!
Get in touch!
If you would like to discuss the possibility of counselling or couples counselling in Galway or via Skype, please do get in touch here. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the counselling process and your own individual needs. I also offer one day workshops for couples – more information about those here.