How did I get here?
Contacting someone to receive professional support might feel like a significant step. Clients are sometimes self-critical, telling me it feels difficult to acknowledge that something feels unmanageable by themselves. If this feels familiar, I hope that you too will be reassured to hear my belief that - rather than being a sign of weakness - whatever brings you here takes courage and carries hope for a better tomorrow.
Can talking really help?
We cannot change other people and we often cannot change difficult circumstances which we find ourselves in - but with increased self-awareness, we can choose to adapt our own responses. We can make positive choices to support ourselves and build our resilience.
There is clear evidence that talking therapies can improve mental health. In individual work, an experienced professional can provide a space outside your existing relationships where you might safely explore your experience and concerns without worrying about their judgement or personal agenda. It is your space.
As one client described it, our weekly sessions are their chance to press pause on life - a rare opportunity to engage with reflecting and exploring their feelings and experiences in a way that they simply would not be able to access alone.
Similarly, many couples are experiencing profound challenges in their relationships, with any existing difficulties exacerbated by the extraordinary pressures which the pandemic has given rise to. Arguments and disagreements feel more frequent and frustrating, leaving both feeling more isolated and perhaps questioning the relationship.
It is perhaps worth remembering that all relationships have the potential to be heaven or hell; the differences being created by the relationship's capacity to manage conflict, establish friendship and share meaning.
Under pressure, it is predictable that communication can become more challenging, with each feeling defensive and the art of listening and feeling heard is quickly lost. Once defensive patterns of communication have been established, it can be almost impossible for a couple to regain open and constructive dialogue without the support of a third person.
As one couple noted, our work together has brought them not only a stronger sense of themselves and their relationship, the communication tools and techniques practiced have reaped rewards across all of their relationships.
Knowing where to turn
If you are in crisis - feeling unable to keep yourself or others safe - contact your GP who can refer you directly to secondary care support.
Accessing free NHS support outside of crisis is also done via your GP. This is sometimes offered as online courses or face to face support within a group. Waiting lists will vary but will generally be longer for one to one support if offered. Your GP may be able to signpost you to local charitable services which offer free or low cost alternatives.
Accessing support privately may be available more quickly and has the further advantage that you choose who you work with. Finding the support that feels right for you is a critical factor in whether the therapy is effective. Trust yourself to know when you have found a good match for you.
Whether or not I am that person, I encourage anyone to seek support from practitioners registered with one of the main professional bodies such as UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy), BPC (British Psychoanalytic Council) or BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists). As there is no government standard of training, practice or regulation of professionals offering talking therapies, registration with a professional body provides you with an assurance of ethical practice.