“I think you should see someone…” Six little words that I didn’t want to hear.
“But I don’t need to see someone…” I pleaded.
“Just think about it…”
Six little words that had confirmed what my gut had been screaming at me for a while. Deep down I knew I needed to see someone but didn’t want to admit it out loud. Admitting it out loud meant I wasn’t coping, things were not getting better, this wasn’t going to go away and it wasn’t going to get easier without help.
While many people can cope with their grief without the need to see someone, I wasn’t one of those people.
Although I knew I needed the help, something was holding me back. The little voice in my head always seemed to pop up when I was beginning to come around to the idea of seeing a professional.
Some of the things I would tell myself would be something like this –
- “What would people think of me?”
- “Everyone is going to know that I am not coping”
- “I’m scared to talk to a stranger about this”
- “But there is nothing wrong with me”
- “I don’t know what to expect”
- “I don’t want to take drugs”
- “It is so expensive!”
- “Who will I even see anyway? I have no idea how to find someone”
- “Am I just going to lay down on the lounge and talk about my feelings for an hour?”
Well that little voice that pops up from time to time can be part of our anxieties and are totally normal!
One of the most common questions I hear when someone has lost a loved one is usually something to do with seeking professional.
People are naturally reluctant to try something new especially at a sensitive time while they are coping with grief.
So today, I’m giving you a run down on my experience of seeing a counsellor.
But before I start, I would like to point out you don’t just have to see someone if you feel like you’re not coping. You might feel like you are doing ok but want to see a professional for other reasons and that is fine too!
Some reasons you might want to seek help include –
- You just want to talk to someone unrelated to you
- You want advice free from judgement
- Talk to someone that won’t gossip about you later
- Having trouble coping with day-to-day life after loss
- feelings of depression and anxiety
- Lost your sense of purpose
- Trouble returning to work or socialising again
I had no idea where to even start looking for a counsellor. I did try looking for someone on google, however, the internet doesn’t give you reviews and what the counsellor specialises in etc. So that’s where my local doctor came in handy.
Speaking to my local doctor was a great place to start. She knew all the good counsellors in my area and could give me a referral to a few different ones to try. If you live in Australia, you may be entitled to free psychology sessions (claimed through your local GP).
The first visit, as my counsellor explained, was a getting to know you type visit. I had to fill in a questionnaire – some of it was basic information (name, address, date of birth etc) others were a little more in depth (had I seen a counsellor before, what did I hope to get out of my visits, reason for attending etc).
I’m not sure why I had to fill in the questionnaire, as we talked about most of the information in person anyway.
During the visit, I mainly talked about my childhood, growing up, the relationship that I had with my parents etc. I guess this was all this information would help with counselling sessions later.
Most of the visit after that pretty much went through the same structure.
There was a lot of talking on my part but with questions that my counsellor asked. The session would usually begin with how the last week/fortnight had gone.
We talked a lot about emotions.
We talked a lot about triggers that would bring on the different emotions. In my sessions, my counsellor and I mainly focused on identifying different triggers and then coping mechanisms to handle certain situations.
We also talked a lot about communication and how to communicate with people to get the best possible outcome.
Now communication and emotional triggers were things that I really wanted to focus on and that’s why my sessions were focused around them. But you may choose to focus on different aspects to help with your grieving journey.
Some of my counselling sessions also focused on me reconnecting with myself. My counsellor gave me little tasks to work on throughout the week which I had to report back on the next time I saw her. These included trying new hobbies or doing an old hobby, reading a book, keeping a journal etc.
I tried most of the tasks that she gave me but that is the type of person that I am. She didn’t give me anything that I wasn’t interested in or was completely different to what I would normally try. If I remember correctly, she gave me a list of tasks that we went through together and I had to highlight things that I was interested in.
At the time I was going to counselling, I didn’t actually feel like anything was working. I do remember there was a lot of crying in each of the sessions. I do remember feeling a little better after each session.
However, by the end of the whole process, I do remember thinking “I’m so glad I did this”.
When I look back now, I do believe it helped me immensely. I think it is very important to get an outsider’s perspective and talking to someone that isn’t related to or you have a friendship with is also beneficial.
My counsellor gave me strategies and tips to help me work through my grief. She would always make it clear that it was something new to try and if it didn’t work for me, then she didn’t want me to stress about it.
My counsellor was friendly, approachable and easy to talk to. We formed a connection straight away, which I also think is important.
Would I Recommend it?
YES! You may not see the benefits initially but you do walk away with better strategies to help you cope on your journey.
If you have any other questions about seeing a professional, leave them in the comment box below and I will try to answer them for you.
Please keep in mind that this is my personal experience when seeing a professional. Not all counselling/therapy/psychology sessions are set up like this. You will have to find a professional that works best for you and you connect with.