10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day, the message is clear,we need to talk. The statistics say that men are more likely to commit suicide,gender isn’t the issue but generally they find it harder to say how they feel or to think its okay to say how they feel. I know people who have been personally affected by this. I have worked with people who this is real. I witness this with personal relationships, I have had ‘dark’ times, I have to have the conversations with people I love and care about to talk things through and them not to choose that option. The message for so many things is prevention,but this so much more. If you are worried about someone,ask them,talk to them,better to have been wrong but to have checked.
I like, like a lot of people have recently watched the new series on television called ‘humans’ after all the hype. For those that haven’t watched it, in a nutshell, it was about the concept of having ‘robots’ in the home to assist us, they do your ironing, washing up,cleaning and so forth. I found the first two intriguing and had to watch the rest. The second half gets a bit more sinister and blurs the line between what is acceptable and not, and how much we allow the robots to assists us. But for me it was much more whilst watching it,it made me question a number of things, the quiet straightforward ones such as ‘how useful would it be,to have a robot to help me? ‘how would it feel to have a stranger in our home all the time?would it change the dynamics?
But then it made me wonder as the lines become blurred on what people were seeking from the robot,companionship, a sexual relationship, intimacy. It made me wonder about life now and how many people I work with or know,life gets busy,they are going through the motions,being there but not having conversations, or communiating via texts, spending more time on social media than each other.
I won’t go into what happens in detail and what you discover as the programme continues, but its a great reminder of relationships, and how there is so much more to life than just going through the motions, laugh,spend time together, say how you feel,call each other,write letters, feel.
A few challenges of counselling that I have experienced myself and clients have shared. These are common factors that we can all relate to.
1) Is counselling for me or not?
Many people I speak to are often interested in what I do, who I work with etc. Some say they have had counselling or know someone who has. They also sometimes say they would never have counselling or could do with some counselling. The question of having counselling keeps on coming up for them – they may suss it out by speaking to those who have had counselling or do a quick check on the internet, researching what it is, where they could go. In my experience they do this process a few times – it’s not just a spontaneous decision and takes a big step to finally contact a counsellor.
2) Could it be you?
Those who know something about counselling may automatically look at the Counselling Directory or google and go to a top listing. There are so many counsellors out there with something to offer. Rarely people will just contact the first one they see but usually there may be a little list of criteria they follow such as gender, location, costs. They may pick a couple of contact and just email or call them. Offering a free consultation gives the potential client a chance to see if you connect and if you could work together. Some people just end their journey there.
Coming to the first session is a mixture of relief, nerves and anxiety – ‘what will it be like?’ ‘where do I start?’ Some clients rush that first session to get everything out, finally glad to have the chance to tell their story.
4) I’m changing, how about everyone else?
Many clients start to notice subtle changes in how they are – some really benefit from that precious hour for themselves, where they can talk about relationships and themselves in a very open and honest way. After a few weeks some clients get to see themselves for the first time in a long time, and start to maybe question what they want for life or a relationship.
Clients do change, there’s no way they can’t but what is important to recognise is we can only change ourselves. Those around us may find it difficult when we occasionally say no to doing something, or speak to when they speak to their manager about their heavy workload. It’s trial and error – learning more about ourselves and the people around us.
5) Now I go it alone?
In an ideal world, all clients would arrange an ending and stick to it, but this is not always the case – some clients just don’t turn up on the last session or stop sessions for a while and promise to come back and some clients never want to end sessions. The way a client processing the ending is part of the process. Many of my clients or previous clients have gradually reduced their sessions, and often made the end transition smoothly. They have gained what they needed and difficulties may arise again but they manage. Others recognise swiftly that something is too overwhelming and return and there are a few who just don’t end.
This is a very brief overview and there are so many points to be made about the challenges of counselling. Take the chance; take the challenge and you could rise to it.
I am as always so grateful as always that most of my business comes from word of mouth aka recommendations.
Some come from colleagues I’ve work with, who know how I work and have seen the work I’ve done with children, colleagues or sometimes with them. They have often needed a chat and to sound off how they feel about things and they always say what I said or did,helped.
The majority of my referrals come from previous clients who have recommended me to someone they know after seeing the results of coming to see me for themselves. It is often stated that people are much quicker to complain than they are to share a positive experience. Because of ethical issues I have to judge whether I can take the new client on depending on how they know my previous client and what the connection is.
The most popular recommendations I have,has been from parents who have seen how their children have progressed and also how their parent-child relationship has developed. I was very impressed when a child child of mine asked for some business cards to share with her friends. She felt proud she was seeing me and she saw it as a positive place to be and there wasn’t anyone she knew who hadn’t noticed the changes in how she was,calmer, settled and able to see other people’s point of view.
I just wanted to take the time to say thank you and that a recommendation of my work really is the best compliment I can receive.
Empathy. What is it?
In many therapeutic models it is described as putting yourself in someone’s shoes.
My experience is saying ‘I know how you feel’ and you do. A recent situation reminded me about the power of empathy. A friend and neighbour had lost their grandparent, they cried when I spoke to them on the last day they visited their grandfather because of the pain he was in and the start of her feeling of loss. All day and many days after I was exactly back to the way I felt when I lost my grandmother.
A day of clients ahead of me, even though I didn’t find it appropriate to share how I felt at that point, I was aware of what I was feeling and taking care of myself on those days – recognising the loss I felt. To my friend saying clichés such as ‘time heals’, ‘it’s for the best’ were not an empathetic or indeed a real response. I told her to expect the pain, that her head would hurt – it’s the sharpest pain and you don’t know how to get through each day.
Many people avoid others when they don’t know what to say, but just a bit of contact makes all the difference. One of the most heartbreaking responses I heard from what I thought was one of my closest friend was: ‘what’s the point of crying?, you are hurting your grandma by doing that.’ Later she said she didn’t know what to say, but I wish she said that to me instead.
I have realised, in both my private and professional life what the difference is between an sympathetic response and an empathetic response. Empathy allows you to reach a deeper level of emotion – it gives you a shared connection.
This week I received another lovely piece of feedback from a client, it really is amazing seeing the progess!
Have been seeing Sapna for a while now, she never makes me feel judged nor makes me feel bad for feeling the way I do. She had a way of making me find my own answers and points out the positives when I can’t see them. I would recommend Sapna to anybody seeking counselling and can honestly say she has helped me find the person I am today.
Receiving feedback is what makes me so passionate about my job – seeing the positive changes and the impact this then takes on an individuals life. Below is a testimonial I have received from the mother of a child I have counselling recently:
My 6 year old daughter was involved in a car accident, which in the weeks that followed left her extremely anxious about travelling in a car again, and in particular travelling on motorways. I contacted Sapna and following an assessment, we agreed to a course of 12 play therapy sessions. The sessions were initially close together, every couple of weeks, but once a relationship had been established, Sapna and my daughter met every month.
I waited outside during the sessions, and was careful not to ask my daughter too much about what she had done. The sessions were her own private space to talk about what happened if she wanted too. Every four weeks, Sapna and I had a brief review meeting. During the course of the sessions, we moved house and my daughter started a new school, so I was able to alert Sapna to this during the updates.
Mid-way through the play therapy sessions I began to see some changes, small ones at first, such as asking me to help her count how many junctions we would be on the Motorway, and then eventually a longer trip of two hours was achieved. My daughter regained most of her confidence in travelling in a car by the end of the sessions, but more importantly had become more resilient as a child, coping with major changes which came her way during the 9 month period the sessions stretched over.
Every parent wants to support their child in the best way they can, but there are some things that are just too big for parents to deal with alone. Getting help from Sapna meant that I did not have to provide all the answers for my daughter. She was able to find them for herself, and along with answers, she found a new set of coping skills that will be with her for life. She shared with me the art work that she had produced during her sessions, and she wrote some words about her experience in her last session. She formed a strong bond with Sapna and had a great respect for her.
Sapna is first and foremost a professional and experienced therapist, but she is also a kind and thoughtful person, which makes her easy to approach. She provided a brilliant, affordable service to my family for which I am extremely grateful. I would not hesitate in recommending her.
Welcome to my brand new website! I hope you find it both easy to navigate through and also the information you require to help you understand how counselling works and how I could help you or a loved one.