People come to counselling for all kinds of reasons. There is no wrong reason to talk to a counsellor, but here are a few issues that come up regularly…
(Generalized Anxiety Disorder -GAD; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD; Social Anxiety; Panic Disorder; and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – OCD)
Many people suffer from anxiety. Anxiety can be rooted in genetics, in trauma history in, learned behaviour and is often influenced by societal pressures. Intense anxiety can result in panic attacks, flashbacks, avoiding situations or people, physical symptoms, such as chronic headaches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and immune system sensitivities.
I utilize therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Exposure therapy and mindfulness strategies to help reduce anxiety and its effects. I also use Narrative therapy to help uncover origins and influences of anxiety and interpersonal communication skills for resolving conflicts and setting boundaries in relationships which might be exacerbating symptoms. Along with other forms of self care to address these issues.
Check out these blog posts I’ve written about anxiety: A Good Time to Panic; 7 Ways to Avoid Avoiding; 9 Mental Health Survival Strategies for the Current Apocalypse.
Depression has become known as ‘the common cold’ of mental health. Everyone’s experience of depression is different. While the symptoms of depression are common: low or irritable mood, sleep and appetite disruption (increased or decreased), lack of motivation, and reduced experiences of pleasure, the causes and solutions may be very different.
The story of depression in your life can be explored through Narrative Therapy to discern between situational depression, unresolved issues of grief, and inherited propensity for depression, while Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can shift thought patterns which are contributing to depression. Exploring and adding healthy living activities can support changes in hormones that influence depression. Suicidal thoughts are sometimes part of peoples’ experience of depression. Aside from safety planning, talking about those thoughts and looking at where they come from can help to provide the hope that is needed to challenge these thoughts.
Here are some blog posts I’ve written about depression: Depression Vs Grief – When You’re Down; Winter Blues; Men & Trauma- Anger, Anxiety, Addiction & Depression; How to Reduce Suicides – A Guide for Everyone
Bipolar Personality Disorder- BP & Borderline Personality Disorder- BPD
I use DBT, motivational interviewing, narrative therapy and attachment theory in working with individuals with personality disorders to help with developing impulse and emotional regulation skills, making meaning of your history and develop healthier positive relationship in which you can set healthy boundaries and ask for what you need in constructive ways.
Check out these posts I’ve written about personality disorders: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – The New Hysteria; The Borderline Therapist; When YOU are the Volcano – 7 Ways to Care for Yourself; and 7 Ways to Love a Volcano.
Sexuality & Intimate Relationships
Sexual development happens for everyone, but our own sexual identity is unique to each of us. Some of us never question our identity. Others have many question and sometimes, even when those questions have been answered have to manage the questions and concerns of others in their life.
I believe that sexual identity is a spectrum and that a healthy sexual identity is one that is shame free. Exploring sexual identity and experimenting with expression of it is all part of growing towards health and self love. Managing the biases and phobias of others is what often causes issues in mental health and wellbeing. I’m here to support you in that process.
Here are a few blog posts I’ve written about sexual identity: My Journey with Homophobia & Parenting – Sexual & Gender Identity Development .
When a couple finds that they are having a lot of conflict, are having trouble communicating, are facing a life change, have experienced infidelity, or have slowly moved apart and want to get closer again, it might be time to see a counsellor. Issues with sexual pleasure and intimacy are also great reasons to talk to a counsellor. In counselling, you will get coaching on different ways to interact, resolve differences and grow closer together. In my practice, I utilize Attachment Theory, interpersonal communication skills, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and aspects of conflict mediation, as appropriate.
I work with both gay and straight couples, monogamous and poly.
Here are some articles I’ve written about intimate relationships: Staying Together, after Kids; After You’ve Cheated; When you find out Your Partner Uses Porn; Not Finding ‘The One; Jealousy in Relationships, & When Love is New – 10 Ways to Improve Chances of Longevity.
Another area of mental health that people come to counselling for is addictions. There are many approaches to treating addiction, which may be relevant, depending on the person’s history, behaviors, goals and current situation. A few that I use in my practice include motivational interviewing, harm reduction, and abstinence approaches, such as 12 step programs. Often these are used in conjunction with other resources, programs, or supports.
(See Addiction, Your Best Frenemy? for more on addictions).
Loss comes in many forms. Death is the type of loss most people associate with grief, however, grief can happen when there is any type of life change, as no matter what change happens, something will be lost. Moving through grief can be a difficult process in this death denying society where strong emotions are usually avoided, not only but the person experiencing them, but often by others who are uncomfortable with them. I work with people who are grieving and to identify when grieving might be a part of their journey towards healing.
Here are some writings I’ve done about grief: When Grief gets Complicated; Grief Without Death; Good Grief Work; & The Parents You Wish You’d Had
These a few other areas that people often come to talk to me about in counselling…
- Dealing with chronic pain/illness (See ‘Chronic’ – 5 ways to Increase Coping Skills for Chronic pain and/or illness
- Being a friend of family of someone with a mental health issues or who is dealing with tragedy or trauma (See 9 Ways to Support a Loved One with Mental Illness & 5 Ways We Respond to Other People’s Tragedies)
- Parenting issues (See Are the Kids Okay? – Children & Mental Health; The 3 Parts of Parenting Teens; Too Many Sticks & Carrots; Sex Ed for Teens, in Families of Faith & Death Education for Children – Don’t wait for Grief
- Racism, bullying & homophobia – I work from anti-oppressive, feminist and anti-racist perspectives. When supporting individuals who have faced, or are facing racism, bullying and homophobia in their workplace, school or home and family life, we work together to develop strategies for setting boundaries, self advocacy, finding more support, and managing the psychological effects of these situations.
- Eating disorders- I work from a strength focused, feminist perspective and utilize motivational interviewing, narrative perspectives and CBT skills working to help individuals struggling with eating disorders.
- Adult ADHD – I work with individuals to develop tools to manage the areas that ADHD is causing conflict in, including time management, organizational skills, interpersonal communications skills and self care strategies.
- Anger Management (See 5 Things Your Anger Can Help you pay Attention to & When YOU are the Volcano – 7 Ways to Care for Yourself).
- Divorce, relationship break ups (See How Everyone can make Divorces Better for Everyone).
If you’re not sure if you need counselling, check out:
Self Improvement – 7 Steps to Find out if You’ve done enough
RE: DIAGNOSIS & MEDICATION
I do not provide diagnosis or prescribe medication. If you have been diagnosed formally, or are just feeling generally overwhelmed by your experiences, my focus will be on what is working for you and what is not. I will utilize tools that provide the best results for you based on your own experience and goals. Where appropriate I will refer you to various resources, medical professionals, or specialists.
See also The Pros and Cons of Obtaining a Mental Health Diagnosis and Mental Health & Medication.
Check out my post Advice About Going to Therapy for more info.
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