Why does it work? Why consider it?
By Claudia Sartor – Wellness Counsellor
Challenges in seeking professional assistance
There is a continued tendency to ask why we should attend counselling sessions and why it should even be an option for us? This type of thinking develops from a lack of understanding about the overall mental health profession and how it fits into the broader spectrum of health. Wellness is not the lack of illness but rather a healthy state of mind, body and spirit (World Health Organisation). There are various types of counsellors each registered and/or certified with different bodies and I am a Wellness counsellor as designated by the Association for Supportive Counsellors and Holistic Practitioners. We have a wide range in scope of practice that covers emotional, spiritual, mental and physical domains of wellness.
Individuals are afraid to seek help due to the unfortunate and undesired stigma around mental health. We get sucked into the view that counsellors are not Psychologists and therefore do not have the necessary skills to counsel an individual. Although Wellness Counsellors such as myself do not provide diagnoses nor medical treatment, we do have the required skills to focus on a solution-driven, holistic approach to counselling and/or coaching towards overall well-being.
Why should you consider going for counselling?
The answer is simple. Why not? Why not consider it? I cannot imagine why it would not be beneficial to learn to be more resilient, more focused. That said, there is no purpose in sugar coating it and saying that it won’t be difficult or that there will be no setbacks. It is imperative to remind yourself that you are not alone during the process and think of a counsellor as an accountability partner who supports you and guides you in alignment with your individual needs and challenges. Counselling offers a safe space for client and counsellor to be equally and fully engaged in the process, allowing for meaningful conversation. It offers an opportunity to think about what one desires to achieve from the sessions, which is actually part of the process of self-care and self-growth.
I am a part-time Wellness Counsellor but my full-time job is serving the Global Mental Health Peer Network as Deputy Chief Executive Officer, a non-profit organisation. This international advocacy organisation has given me the opportunity to hear recovery stories of individuals from around the world, that confirm wellness techniques combined with therapy, counselling and correct treatment can result in an individual’s full potential to be successful and thrive in life despite living with a mental health condition (past or present). Increased global discussions confirm that mental health professionals often end up taking a role in the field because of their personal experience with mental health. Those professionals are human beings too and most likely relatable. I have experienced being a patient and, over the past years, a mental health professional. With combined knowledge and experience I continue to advocate for counselling as a technique for overall well-being.
Typically, we believe that we can “fix” our problems without professional guidance and yes, we can [to some degree], but for how long and at whose expense. Counselling offers a real CONNECTION to an OBJECTIVE professional who UNDERSTANDS the individual NEEDS of persons and who practices through a SOLUTION focused approach to healing. It offers EMPATHY and allows for a space of LEARNING; learning about LIFE, its stressors and INJUSTICES while promoting a NON-JUDGEMENTAL environment to encourage clients to reach desired GOALS. (See attached acronym created by Claudia Sartor). Stress impacts our lives in many ways (at the workplace, home, school) and finding out ways of coping with the stressors will inevitably improve the quality of our lives.
The power of self-care?
Periods of major stress are accompanied by a decline in physical and psychological well-being and restoration of vitality, health and cognitive potency can be achieved through numerous sustained lifestyle behaviours and practices. Therefore, we ought to look at recovery from a holistic perspective; it is important to understand that managing your mental health condition is the goal and how we learn to manage and live with the condition that makes us able to continue with daily life. Learning to manage your condition means implementing self-care techniques and a daily routine must be in place and followed. These techniques can take the form of physical exercise, yoga, dancing, reading a book, improved quality of sleep, daily self-affirmations, breath-work, meditation, healthy diet and most importantly a continued effort to implement those techniques. Music and arts are also great ways of managing anxiety and stress. Our focus should be on seeing stress as challenging (something worth overcoming) rather than as something you are incapable of overcoming. Reconnecting with your inner spirit; your inner self will help provide clarity of mind and you feel more emotionally and physically resilient to stressors.
My message to you:
You are not defined by your illness. You are NOT Bipolar. You are NOT anxiety. It is merely a part of you. Your illness is not your identity!
I discuss mental health (and much more) with Claudia on the podcast 23 June, don’t miss it!
If you would like to reach me for counselling or coaching sessions, please email me at email@example.com for more information. If you have personal lived experience (past or present) with a psychosocial disability or mental health condition and wish to join the Global Mental Health Peer network as a volunteer to help reduce global mental health stigma and eliminate discrimination, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org