By Antony Constantinou, Counsellor and Psychotherapist 
 
There has been a lot of talk about mental health and wellbeing in recent months, and even more so since the eruption of pandemic. Millions of people are suffering, often in silence, and while many have considered counselling or therapy as a solution to their problem, people continuously disregard it. This is usually due to misconceptions and stigma around what therapy is and how it works. 
 
If you are struggling with any aspect of your work or home life and you have considered, yet discounted therapy as a solution to your problem, I encourage you to read on. For it might just be the right thing to help you overcome the challenges you are facing, enabling you to be the person you want to be. 

1. Childhood is the root of all (or most) of your issues 

There’s a belief that exploring your past in therapy is pointless or even considered a complete waste of time by some. After all, talking about past circumstances doesn’t change them. It may even seem self-indulgent or narcissistic. 
 
In actuality, these are all common myths and misconceptions. Acknowledging our pain means acknowledging our vulnerability and humanity. Being in touch with those feelings is what allows us to make positive changes in our lives and hence, by looking into the past, we can better understand the present and make positive changes for the future. 
 
That said, different approaches to therapy place variable levels of emphasis on exploring the past. In some approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), the focus lays on the present moment. The emphasis in CBT is understanding how current behaviours shape our current feelings and thought patterns. 
 
Other approaches to therapy such as the person-centred approach places a deep emphasis on exploring your current feelings and making sense of how you are feeling. 

2. You will be asked to lay on a sofa 

It is common to think of the iconic therapists’ couch often depicted in films, cartoons and television; to imagine a patient laying on the sofa talking to a therapist about their issues while the therapist sits behind taking notes. However, it's fairly uncommon for a therapist or a mental health professional to suggest a client or a patient actually lays down on a sofa. 
 
On very rare occasions this might be the truth, however this type of therapy is typically associated with psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysts are extensively trained to use the sofa as an accompaniment to a particular form of treatment which originated with Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalysis. 
 
The majority of modern approaches to counselling and psychotherapy, such as humanistic, behavioural and psychodynamic, Cognitive Behavioural (CBT) Therapy all involve the patient sitting directly opposite the therapist on a comfortable chair or a sofa. Therefore, if the thought of laying down on a sofa with a stranger present makes you feel uncomfortable, remember, we aren’t on a movie set. 

3. Does Therapy even work? 

Therapy, counselling and mental health are all buzzwords which tend to be thrown around and used interchangeably. The mental health awareness movement has been fundamental to how we think and perceive our mental health. 
 
There is definitely a place for pharmaceutical drugs, such as anti-depressants. However, this isn’t the only option available and often mental health and wellbeing problems can be treated naturally through talking and other therapies commonly available. 
 
It’s not uncommon to hear someone making the statement ‘therapy doesn’t even work’. However, there is a plethora of publicised evidence, that suggests otherwise, as stated for example by Forbes magazine. 
 
The American Psychological Association states “Psychotherapy is highly effective; it helps reduce the overall need for health services and produces long-term health improvements”. 
 
There are several factors, which promote the helpfulness of counselling and therapy and some of these include. 
The relationship with your therapist 
Being open to change 
The therapist’s skills and model 
Becoming more aware of negative behaviours 
Deepening the ability to reflect and build awareness 

4. A therapist can read your mind 

“Stop psychoanalysing me!”. 
 
It is incredibly common for counsellors, therapists and psychologists to hear this, when they tell someone what they do. The same thought may enter a person’s mind once they enter into a therapeutic relationship. This tends to be one of the most common misconceptions you may hear about therapy. 
 
Reading someone’s mind is the job of a Psychic, Medium or someone saying they possess supernatural powers; and if that is what you are seeking from therapy then maybe you are looking in the wrong place. 
 
Therapists are trained to be attuned to the soundings and experiences of their client and make sense of their feelings and thoughts. Remember, a client is always in control of what they choose to disclose to their therapist and the therapist is more concerned with how you make sense of certain issues, rather than trying to read your mind. 

5. Therapy is only helpful for people who suffer from very serious mental health conditions 

Therapy and Counselling are not only helpful for treating severe conditions, such as strong depression or PTSD, but are also helpful in managing and treating mild and moderate mental wellbeing problems, for example feeling lost or disjointed, having mild anxiety, or going through life changes. 
 
It can be helpful to approach your mental health from a preventative perspective to catch and treat negative behaviours or lower stress and anxieties before they escalate into bigger ones. 
 
Therapy can be useful for individuals, couples and children experiencing difficulties in some aspects of life, for example: 
 
Unexpected mood swings 
Professional and personal life changes 
Self-sabotaging, destructive or harmful thoughts 
Withdrawing from things that used to bring you joy 
Feeling isolated or alone 
Losing a loved one, dealing with grief 
Substance abuse 
Loss of control 
Sexual issues in relationships 
A strain in personal relationships 
Poor sleep or insomnia 
 
If any of the issues within this list strike a chord with you, or if you are dealing with some other difficulties in life, it might be worth considering whether therapy could benefit you. 
If you would like to explore counselling or other talking therapy, we are here for you at the Wellbeing Centre London
Please contact us for a free confidential conversation on 07942 626960 or by email contact@wellbeingcentrelondon.com. 
 
We provide sessions Online, via Phone or Face to Face at Putney Bridge, Fulham, South West London. 
 
Antony Constantinou studied Psychodynamic Counselling at London’s Birkbeck College University furthered by In Person centred counselling at Middlesex University and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy at NHS Tavistock and Portman Trust. After an extensive amount of experience within the NHS, charity and private sectors, he went on to work in private practice. 
 
Antony continues to train and commit to continuous personal development to keep up with the code of ethics set by the BACP. He undertook many pieces of training including clinical assessment, drugs and alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression and personality disorders. 
Tagged as: Self-Care, Therapy, Wellbeing
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