By Steve Axell, Counsellor and Life Coach
‘Stuff’ happens in life, like difficulties with work or finances, the breakdown of a relationship, overwhelming family responsibilities, the death of a family member or friend, illness, accidents and unexpected setbacks. These challenges can become a rich source of learning and growth and shape us as people, or they can take a serious toll on our mental health and cause us to become stuck, anxious, isolated and even ill. Many of us, men particularly, have been conditioned to tough it out and struggle alone, to ‘Man-Up’, rather than admit weakness or vulnerability and seek help, until it becomes overwhelming and reaches crisis point. Of the 6,233 suicides recorded in the UK in 2013, (which is 3 times the number of people killed in traffic accidents) 78% were male and 22% were female.
We all have times when we feel down, stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious problem and that could happen to any one of us. Everyone is different. You may bounce back from a setback while someone else may feel weighed down by it for a long time. Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life.
Although one in four of us in the UK will experience mental illness in our lifetime, very few of us will seek help as there is still a stigma in this country about admitting that we have a mental health problem. This is different from having a physical health problem. We are generally less concerned with going to a doctor or Physiotherapist if we have a strained back or swollen ankle, as these are acceptable bi-products of being an active man. Not many of us chase saber-toothed tigers anymore, but it still fits the stereotype of being a man to be ‘out there hunting and gathering’, rather than ‘inside fretting and worrying’ over meeting the monthly bills or paying for the kids’ Christmas presents. Yet it happens and often goes unnoticed or is not discussed. If something is unacceptable it just becomes buried and less visible, but it doesn’t go away.
We can’t change most of the stuff that happens to us in life, but we can change our attitude and response to it. By learning to accept and integrate these experiences into our lives, we can also find peace and contentment and ease our pains and when we do get stuck and things start to get on top of us, we can find a way to become freed up, functional and energised again. This is where Counselling comes in. Counselling is essentially a place where we can talk about our experiences, problems, worries, challenges and our fears and weaknesses with someone who won’t judge or try to change us, but help us to navigate our way in life. When our internal ‘Sat Nav’ is faulty, Counselling can help to establish direction and purpose again. When we can’t cope with the stresses of life, when we are ‘stuck’ looking back with regret, remorse or resentment, or ‘stuck’ anxiously worrying about the future and how we will face uncertainties or anticipated difficulties, Counselling is the right place to work through it, with the support of a professional.
Counselling is not just for people with problems and difficulties. It can also enhance our mental and physical health and help us to achieve our potential in life. In much the same way as a personal trainer might help us to achieve our physical goals, a Counsellor or Coach can also help to improve our mental fitness, self-awareness and resilience to life’s many challenges.
What can you expect when you go for a counselling session? Counselling sessions and Counsellors, like in most other professions can vary. A typical session will last for 50-60 minutes, starting with an introductory session, where you will meet the counsellor, find out about who they are and how they work, and they will ask you for some information about your family, medical and mental health history and what issues you would like to address. Depending on the issue, we will usually agree how many sessions are needed. If it is a simple issue, then it may be possible to work this through in 1-3 sessions; if it is more complex, it may require 6 or more sessions, and for some very deep issues can require a long-term approach. The session itself will be primarily talking, but could also include drawing, movement, music, meditation, visualisation and other creative methods if appropriate. There is no hard and fast rule, but you will always be in control and will never be asked to do anything that you’re uncomfortable with.
To find out more about how counselling could help you improve the quality of your life, contact Steve Axell at Physio & Therapies on 01706 819464.
Steve is a qualified and experienced Counsellor, holding a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychosynthesis Counselling from the Psychosynthesis Trust in London. He has worked for over 20 years in different organisations as a trainer, coach and organisation development consultant and completed a Masters Degree at Lancaster University in Management Learning. Steve is also a musician and songwriter, adventurer, occasional health fanatic, fell walker and has a fascination for travelling on 2 wheels. He has lived in Yorkshire for most of his life.
He is offering 20% off all counselling sessions in November.