Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
When I first meet new clients I tend to start by asking what has brought them to counselling. Inevitably, this leads to a description of things that have gone badly, of problems they have faced, or of things that are worrying them now. So the tone of the meeting tends to be quite negative – sometimes clients become distressed or upset while describing their situation and sometimes couples disagree and arguments can develop.
While this sort of conversation can be difficult, it can also be important. Bad memories can sit with us, they can keep coming back to haunt us, and talking them through can help us to view them in a different way and come to peace with them. If your life is in a difficult and confused state, if you have a tough decision to make, it can be helpful to talk it through, to help sort things out, to see what is important and what is irrelevant or incidental, to find some order amidst the chaos.
But while it can help to discuss the more unpleasant parts of your life, past or present, it can also leave you stuck. Sometimes it’s more helpful to focus on the positives and to think about how to change things for the better in the future.
What does this mean in practice? The sort of questions I might ask clients are “When do you feel least depressed?”; “What sort of things leave you feeling good about yourself?”; “When do you feel least like having a drink?”. In doing this, I will be trying to help you identify what you can do to help yourself change things for the better. It may be that you simply need to do more of the things that help you – or it may be that you need to identify why these things are helpful and then find other things that can help you in a similar way.
To take a concrete example, suppose you are looking for help in giving up smoking. You may realise that one thing that helps you is to take a long hot bath, that this helps to reduce your need for a cigarette. This is fine, but you can’t dive into the bath every time you feel like a smoke. So then it’s a matter of finding out more about why having a bath helps you. Perhaps, in the bath, you relax, shut your eyes and think about lying on a beach in the sun. In which case, perhaps you can find a way to capture similar thoughts when you’re at work, or stuck in a traffic jam, or in other situations where taking a bath is not possible.
For couples, too, thinking about the positives can be very useful. When do you and your partner argue least, or get on best together? Can you do more of those things? What does your partner do that makes you feel good, feel loved? If they know what helps you, maybe they can do more of that, or of similar things.
Doing more of the stuff that works for you leaves less time for the stuff that’s bad. And as the balance changes, it can become progressively easier to cope with the bad times. It’s a simple approach, but it can be a very effective one, and something that you can try putting in place yourself.