Self-help, Options and Tips

15/1/2017

Today’s morning mantra!
“When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top”-anon

Today I thought I’d talk about something that I feel like a lot of students should know about. When I was in Secondary school (high school) we only had school counselors and not therapists. A lot of students’ issues when I was in school mostly derived from exams, balancing school work with personal lives and home issues but now that I know what I know I feel like maybe schools should have both counselors and therapists and let students choose between the two.

A bit of background on my knowledge, I was in counselling for three years when I was a teen. I started personal counselling when I was sixteen and finished just before I turned nineteen so I was doing it through my last year of high school and college. Counselling is based mostly around talking, at least in the UK it is. I have to disclaim now that this is based on my personal experiences with these two types of well-being aid and is based completely in England that I have had these experiences. I’d suggest if you’re considering either to do plenty of research on background, personal reviews and what places specialize in.

I had two types of counselling, one was a college counsellor and the other was a specialist counsellor. The college counsellor was especially friendly and approachable however the sessions were quite daunting as it was an hour long of talking and it was easy to get side-tracked because she was on call even when having sessions with me. It was hard to feel like it was personalised since it was just generic talking about issues and half of the issues that she asked to talk about didn’t actually affect me. To be fair to her, she wasn’t really trained to deal with my specific issues. I’d recommend this type of counselling for student whose issues focus around ‘less serious’ issues such as academic based issues or family problems. It’s a good way of getting to know yourself but it doesn’t actually help is a productive way. Counselling is more for talking out your thoughts to try and make sense of them more than anything but school counsellors can refer you to people that can help more especially for academic issues.

My specialist counsellor I saw for three years and although it did help to talk out my issues I found after a year it started to make me more disdainful and I found myself complaining more than I used to. When your sessions are weakly and you have to talk for an hour it’s very easy to get off track when your sessions don’t have any sort of system or structure. It’s also easy to become angrier and less positive in your way of thinking with it because a counsellor basically picks apart what you say and makes you re-evaluate your way of thinking. It’s designed to help you understand your thoughts and feeling and to help you come to terms with them but for people who are especially sensitive and anxious like me it’s easy to feel like everything you say is wrong and that you have a bad way of thinking. I think counselling is better for people who want to have a second opinion or want to understand other ways of thinking about issues.

I have been seeing an occupational therapist for a couple of months now and I feel like this is really good for people especially with mental illnesses. This sort of therapy is designed to help with a productive way of self-help and rather than talking issues out it’s more talking about issues and being given options on how to deal with them. My personal therapist is a great guy and really helpful when it comes to helping me deal with my personal problems. Rather than telling me how to deal or that there isn’t a way to solve it (like I was told once in counselling that it would ‘go away eventually’) he offers resources to deal with the issues and other issues that may come up later in life. He helps with dealing with social anxiety, depression, PTSD and personal difficulties like eating disorders and panic attacks. I feel like this is a much more efficient way of dealing with health-related issues like mental health since it allows you to deal with it in a way that suites you personally and helps you develop so you can deal with it later in life too or at least similar issues. I also think some of the lessons I have learnt during the session would be helpful in everyday life such as dealing with stress, how to unwind after a difficult day, how to deal with anxiety in public and in private and healthy ways to deal with excess energy, stress, anxiety and mood swings.

Most universities and colleges do have wellbeing help in place but I’d suggest talking it out with someone knowledgeable about which would work best for you and maybe ask for an induction session too both to try them and see which works for you.

I hope this has helped and has been an interesting read. Please leave a comment if you’d like to know more either about my counselling experiencing or my therapy sessions and I’d be more than happy to do another post or two for those interested.

Be happy, healthy and hopeful
~AJ

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