Hey everyone 🙂
I thought it was about time to have a Part 2 to my original ‘Experiencing York’s CDS‘ post. My first post was very much about the intake appointment and since it’s been 3ish months since then, I thought I would share how things are going, what to expect, and basically talk about the ‘middle’ part of counselling. I’ll likely do a final part to this series when/if I’m finished (depending on whether I’m still working this position when I’m done – counselling is something that can’t be rushed). Now this article is going to be pretty long but I figure if you clicked on this page to read about it, it’s worth reading through ^_^
A lot has changed since my intake appointment back in October.
Pros of Counselling
- One major point is that I was assigned with the most amazing counsellor. Sometimes with counselling it takes a couple of tries to find a counsellor that is compatible with who you are as a person but I was fortunate enough to be assigned a counsellor that really fit – I think probably the best fit of the three counsellors I’ve worked with in my lifetime. Keep in mind that if you don’t like your counsellor or if you don’t feel compatible with them, there is no problem in asking for a new one. They will understand, it’s happened before. And really at the end of the day, you know what kind of person you need to speak with 🙂
- One of the biggest differences I noticed occurred about a month ago – I realised that my body image and eating habits are once again healthy. My counsellor and I haven’t really talked much about body image at all, that’s not why I went to counselling, but because of her validation and the work that we’ve done, I’m finally seeing myself as I should be. It’s a great feeling that I’m eternally grateful for. I’ve been struggling to lose the weight I gained from my mental health struggles for over 5 years and since counselling has started I’ve been steadily losing and getting closer to the body I remember having before (but with a much MUCH healthier, moderated lifestyle and thought process). I actually just recently hit -15lbs!
- I’ve realised that being emotionally intuitive does not mean that I am weak or ‘sensitive’ person – it means that I am listening to my body and the people around me (which is a useful skill that not everyone has). Now this was a personal problem I had, largely due to the fact that I come from a family that didn’t understand emotions, but I was given the opportunity to see that my emotional intuition/intelligence is a positive thing, a strength, instead of a weakness. That in itself was so liberating – probably one of the most liberating successes yet. I have stopped beating up myself for something that is a powerful component of who I am as a person.
- I’ve also realised that I don’t have to make myself small. I have a voice, I’m allowed to use it, and I’m worth using it. I’ve always had problems with ‘causing a scene’ even though what I think would cause a scene is sometimes just asking someone to pull in their chair so I can get by them to sit down. This is definitely tied in with self esteem and while I’ve made this realisation, it’s still going to take some time to practice and feel comfortable with it.
- Almost all of the major issues that I went to counselling for have been resolved in some manner or another. The best part? I was the one that made the choices. I definitely give so much credit to my counsellor but in all honesty, she is right when she said that I’ve been doing all this work myself. My counsellor is the kind that really lets you lead. I share my concerns, and she first validates me, and then asks questions for clarification and to get me to see things from other perspectives or asks questions that leads to possibilities I didn’t realise were there or that were valid. Now we definitely still have some substantial work to do but I feel as if it’s more skill based than crisis based. Now that my major life crisis is resolved, we still have to work on healing the damage and go over ways to develop/redevelop skills and fix other issues that were affected because of my crisis.
- Sometime in the midst of counselling I finally had my realisation as to what career I want to pursue. This was something that was really bothering me because I felt like I was in university for no point, even though I love what I’m studying, because I had no future purpose to work for. And now I do and things are even better than before! The effects of counselling really surpass just helping you work through your problems. The impact carries on to affect the other aspects of your life in a positive way. It makes new possibilities appear.
Other pros: my social anxiety has been greatly diminished, my confidence/self esteem are raising, I feel stronger about my abilities to solve any problems that come my way, I feel that I can be a better partner, friend, sibling, and person all around (and this only improves and improves as my counselling continues) and probably even more that I can’t think of from the top of my head.
Cons of Counselling
Now there aren’t really many true ‘cons’ to counselling and I largely think they are worth it, but it’s not my place to make that conclusion for other people. These are all things that I think you should know if you are going to sign up for counselling.
- Counselling is hard, hard work. It’s not going to be helpful if you don’t fully embrace it. You have to fully bare your soul if you want these changes to be permanent/long term. And when I say you have to bare you soul, I say that because that’s what it feels like. You have to be so open, so candid, even to those deep dark secrets. Now I think most of this is just the anxiety of anticipation because this con comes paired with a pro – if you can commit 100% and be candid, the benefits WILL be worth it and you will feel like a changed, better version of yourself.
- Sometimes during the ‘middle’ part of counselling, you will feel as bad, or worse, than when you first went to seek help. Why? Because all these problems that you’ve struggled with, even pushed deep inside of yourself, have to be brought back up to the surface to be re-examined. This can be painful because you might not always feel ready to discuss these issues and even if you are, they might be just as painful as when they first bothered you. But, remember, there is something VERY different from where you were in your life before you went to counselling. This time around you have professional support available to you and your counsellor will often be available and willing to meet for a SECOND visit in a week if you feel that you need it. And if you DO need it, know that that is okay. There were a couple horrible weeks in these past few months were I just felt so broken down that I needed to see my counsellor for a second time. And sure enough, it always helped. These ’emergency’ sessions operate a little bit different in that they are more focused on getting you back to a good place (sometimes it’s as easy as talking about what upset you at the last session and then thinking about it in a different way), and focus on coping/self care that you can do to maintain how you feel until your next session.
- Counselling can affect other aspects of your life in a bad way. One major thing for me is that counselling brought up some very painful issues of mine that made my depression very hard for me to manage (which I don’t treat with prescription medication – so keep in mind that it possibly could be easier for people that are currently being treated) such that there were some days I just couldn’t go to school or work. I am so thankful that my work is understanding, but the reality of it is that other employers might not be. So I do feel that this is something to consider because if you have a lot on your plate, you might want to hold off on counselling until some of those things are cleared. At the same time, there might never be a good time, in which case you might just have to go for it. If I didn’t just go for it, I don’t know that I ever would have. So for me, while it’s been frustrating to feel like I’m ‘slacking’ with school or not being accountable at work, I know that’s not being entirely fair to myself or the circumstance I’m in. And I know that in the future my attendance and work ethic are going to be the highest they’ve ever been because I won’t have these issues plaguing me any more.
- Your family might judge you for going to counselling. This can be really, really hard to deal with. They might even ‘support’ you but then make comments that lead you to think they aren’t being honest. At the end of the day you have to do what’s best for you. And while it’s hard to do things without your families support in some cases, you owe it to yourself to give yourself this opportunity. And you don’t necessarily have to let them know you are going. York’s counselling is on campus so you can always use the excuse that you are studying at the library, are in class, with a club, etc. Don’t let your family hold you back from the help that you know you need. Trust your instincts.
Again, just like with the pros section, there are likely some cons that I can’t remember or that might be unique to your situation. However, there is one final thing to consider. If you spend some time thinking about these cons and you aren’t sure how much of an impact they would have or you want to be extra-careful about minimizing the negative affect on your life – TELL YOUR COUNSELLOR. They will be more than willing to accommodate you – maybe by taking things at a slower pace, or saving the hard discussions for weeks when you have less going on. You can even ask your counsellor to end your session with meditation or deep breathing (I often do) so that you leave feeling at least neutral, if not relaxed and clear minded!
I hope you found this post helpful and if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to comment below.