6 Dec 2023 | Alex Mahoney
“Late last year, I began the process of applying for counselling, which began earlier this year. This piece will cover my thought process leading up to it and the overall experience I had.
I didn’t actually start counselling for several months after I learned it was available. People inside and outside of ESTEEM had suggested it to me in the past. I had heard about its supposed benefits but never really listened.
I didn’t think it was worth the time and effort. I didn’t think it would help me. What good was it going to do, talking to someone I didn’t know, about things they couldn’t change? It wasn’t going to fix my problems. It wasn’t going to help me at all.
All of that went through my mind, right up until I stepped into the room for my first session.
It wouldn’t really feel right to say that the experience was different from what I was expecting. I was told that I would be given a room, I could speak to my counsellor about anything on my mind and that everything I said was completely confidential. That’s pretty much exactly what I got. The only thing that surprised me was how much I felt counselling helped me in the end.
It didn’t immediately feel like it was helping at all. At first, it felt more like I was following a script, talking about the things I was expected to talk about. Then, after one particular session, I realised that I wasn’t just following the same pattern I had in the weeks before. I actually felt better about something I’d just discussed. It wasn’t wasting my time, it was helping me to cope.
It gave me a chance to speak. No one was criticising me. No one was interrupting me. It really just felt like a chance to vent, to say what I had never been able or allowed to say before.
As cliche as it sounds, having someone just sit and listen to you talk about something bothering you really does lift a weight off your shoulders. There was never any pressure or compulsion in the sessions. I could spend fifty minutes talking about something that had been sitting with me for years, or spend five minutes on something that had bothered me this week. I would regularly leave sessions feeling like I hadn’t properly resolved what I wanted to talk about because the freedom of being able to talk about literally anything I wanted made it difficult to stay on a singular topic.
I began counselling thinking I would be wasting my time and I left, 24 sessions later, wishing I could stay longer.
At the time of writing this, I have finished my final session just this week. In the time I have spent there, I have spoken about many things and have had my point of view towards several things changed in a positive way. In many ways, I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m extremely glad that I made the decision to take this route.
All in all, I think counselling is extremely worthwhile and fulfilling. While it is not for everyone, I would fully encourage any young adult considering it to give it a try. I truly believe that it can be a lifeline for a person who, like I did, feels on the verge of being completely consumed by the happenings of life.”
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