Some things just need an experienced counsellor.
An experienced counsellor can help with many forms of pain, trauma and dysfunction.
So Dr Brian also has experience in the areas below:
Chronic pain/illness are very debilitating and require the considered understanding offered by an experienced counsellor to help negotiate the many complexities arising. With an illness many competing medical, emotional, family, support issues arise that stress the patient and they often have to help everyone else!
Psychological techniques of grief and loss work, relaxation techniques and visualization can reduce symptoms. Adjustment counselling can assist the client to come to terms with the crisis which can take some time and effort.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from assaults, accidents and many others sources of trauma (war, abuse, natural disasters etc) can be resolved quickly with the help of an experienced counsellor. Many are aware of the symptoms of flashbacks, fear of public places, agitation and inappropriate anger. Visualisation is a powerful tool to assist people leave the trauma behind them and resume life. Other techniques such as anger management, reducing further trauma, social support and anxiety reduction are very effective and can quickly resolve issues.
Sexual issues. Sexual issues divide into 3 main areas – sexual assault, sexual preference and sexual dysfunction.
- Sexual assault is very painful as people know but is particularly damaging in childhood for females and for males. Even minor assaults can lead to low self esteem, depression, social anxiety and low sexual desire many years later.
- Sexual preference includes the diverse LGBT community with sexual identity issues. All groups have relationship, discrimination and bullying issues. This area requires experienced help due to many culture, behaviour and language differences that most straight counsellors have no knowledge yet assume they can help!
- Sexual dysfunction includes sexual desire (low and high), sexual performance ( erections, lack of orgasms, premature ejaculation) and many others (BDSM, polyamory). Too many other types to list, present for counseling often for relationship issues or court reports.
So an experienced counsellor can help with many issues. But what do you look for?
Firstly the counselor must be genuine and caring. The caring is shown by making the first appointment as comfortable an easy as possible! Turning up for an appointment is very hard!
Counselling is unusual in that the job requires real people in real pain seeking help. Counselling is a long way from sales people with an obvious agenda. Counsellors can only really understand 80% of your problem but that’s ‘good enough’.
At first counsellors need to ask questions to learn about you and your life and what has happened in the past. They will also look at how you have handled other problems and try and use your skills and talents to help you.
So while the counselor is assessing you, the client should also assess the counselor. Clients need to feel they are in good hands with someone who knows what they are doing and is positive about helping. The rapport between the two is one of the most important factors in the success of counseling. So the client should ask questions about the counselors training, experience and work out whether they understand the issues.
The counselor should be responding in a professional, open manner with respect and really listening. Many clients are afraid of being judged or shamed/ exposed but counselors are usually very non judgemental and have seen many similar problems.
Counselling involves a deeper understanding of issues rather than just advice. For example, everyone knows we shouldn’t smoke, even the smokers! So smokers know all the advice ‘just stop’, ‘don’t buy them’, distract yourself’ even ‘you're weak’. The people who know the advice and cant stop need something more – counselling. So NOT giving advice is out of respect for clients - not just listening and doing nothing practical.
After a few sessions counseling moves to a more practical stage where clients can be given exercises or homework and then the counsellors work out a plan. Clients feedback at this stage is very important as counsellors can miss the point or get it wrong.
So the relationship becomes cooperative and mostly guided by the client who is seen as another struggling human like all of us!
Dr Brian is a counsellor with 30 years experience in the area.