Counselling, Therapy and a return to work
- Counselling; A time to end and a time to begin1st March 2017
- Counselling and the art of giving back1st February 2017
- And this year I will…..1st January 2017
- Social Anxiety, Counselling and Christmas1st December 2016
- Couple Counselling – and just when is a discussion an argument1st November 2016
- Therapy, Mobiles and the Challenge of Choice1st October 2016
- Counselling, September and an Ellison’s Orange 1st September 2016
- Counselling – A room with a view1st August 2016
- Counselling: Choices and Decisions1st July 2016
- Counselling, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire and the Inevitability of Change1st June 2016
- Counselling and the art of Ambiguity. 1st May 2016
- Repetition; Normality or Folly. A Counselling Perspective1st April 2016
- Lions, Lambs and Therapy3rd March 2016
- Valentines Day, Counselling and the Great Unknown1st February 2016
- Janus Faced? The New Year, Counselling and Psychotherapy1st January 2016
- So which road do we travel this Christmas...1st December 2015
- Counselling, Guy Fawkes and Scapegoating1st November 2015
- Counselling Work and Narrative Therapy1st October 2015
- Counselling, Therapy and the end of Summer1st September 2015
- Wheat, Rye and Counselling1st August 2015
- Counselling and a break away3rd July 2015
- Counselling and the unexpected1st June 2015
- Counselling, Elections and our opportunity to choose1st May 2015
- Therapy, an April fool and the art of lost memory1st April 2015
- A Spring Clean Therapy and Counselling1st March 2015
- Couple Counselling & Valentines Day1st February 2015
- Nothing changes if nothing changes but this year can be different!1st January 2015
- Social Anxiety Disorder A Christmas Concern1st December 2014
- SAD & those dark Winter nights1st November 2014
- Existential Counselling A useful approach or pretentious jargon?1st October 2014
- Counselling, Therapy and a return to work1st September 2014
- Holidays, Counselling and your Shadow1st August 2014
- Couple Counselling and Choice1st July 2014
- Counselling, Jules Rimet and you A therapeutic perspective1st June 2014
- Counselling and Mayday A different take on a familiar story?1st May 2014
- Useful Therapy and not an April Fool1st April 2014
- Counselling, Floods and Pandoras Box1st March 2014
- Counselling and the art of being normal1st February 2014
- The New Year and a time for change?1st January 2014
- Christmas & Counselling The first Noel1st December 2013
- Counselling, Broomsticks & Halloween1st November 2013
- Couple Counselling and just what is a successful relationship?1st October 2013
- Counselling An issue of choice?1st September 2013
- Existential Counselling From Yalom to Basingstoke1st August 2013
- Counselling and the art of reframing1st July 2013
- Counselling - Change or Conformity?1st June 2013
- May Day Counselling - Celebration or Conflagration ?1st May 2013
- Summer Time & the Counselling Room1st April 2013
- Depression a useful diagnosis or an unhelpful label?1st March 2013
- An Emotional Timeline3rd February 2013
- Resolution, Revolution & Counselling1st January 2013
- Christmas, Carols & Counselling2nd December 2012
- Seasonal Affective Disorder and the SAD Season4th November 2012
- Psychotherapy & Counselling A Stoic Perspective17th October 2012
- 10th October 2012 - World Mental Health Day5th October 2012
- A First Meeting Explanation or Exploration?5th September 2012
- CBT, Mental Filtering and the Olympics19th August 2012
- I am not an angry man 14th July 2012
- Art, Counselling & Interpretation26th June 2012
- Murder Mysteries and Psychotherapy25th May 2012
- The importance of choice in therapy29th April 2012
- Reflections on Spontaneity6th April 2012
- A personal trainer for the mind 12th March 2012
”There is something wrong. I should not be feeling like this “. When these comments are expressed in the therapy room, the task for client and counsellor is to decide how to work with them.
The usual response is to accept that there is an issue to be resolved and emotional distress to be eased. Work can then begin on exploring the client’s narrative or story.
There is however sometimes an alternative response to be considered. This is when the therapist looks together with the client at whether those concerns are appropriate or not. Rather than indicating a major problem, could those uncomfortable feelings that ‘something is wrong’ sometimes just be a natural reaction to the challenge of living in this demanding society?
That can be a difficult discussion to embark on particularly when the client is clearly uneasy with her or his current feelings. There is also the reality even in the therapy room, of working in a consumer driven environment where the prevailing maxim is that the customer is always right. If the client view is that ‘ I should not be feeling like this’ then is it really ever appropriate for others to be exploring an alternative view?
Perhaps much depends on what is happening for the client. The comment that ‘I should not be feeling like this’ can reflect a myriad of difficult situations with very different causal factors.
It may be for example that much time has passed since a particularly distressing event occurred. The client who normally deals very well with difficult issues, is being encouraged by well-meaning friends to accept that by now the grief should have eased and he or she should be ‘moving on’. Yet on this occasion the client is very aware that pain remains and refuses to budge.
Alternatively it may be suggested by others that an action carried out by the client, such as a cross word that was spoken or a careless mistake that was made, was relatively minor and should surely now be forgotten. Nevertheless this time, the feelings of guilt and self-criticism remain sufficiently strong for the client and continue to intrude on everyday thoughts.
On those occasions there is some work to do in the counselling room. Once we have an opportunity to look together at what has occurred, client and counsellor can start to develop an understanding of why those feelings persist. There will be an individual narrative underpinning the persistence of those feelings. If that narrative can be really understood the client may then be in a better position to decide upon the next step.
That next step may be to take an active stance in reducing the impact of those difficult feelings, perhaps by using some CBT based strategies. Alternatively more time may need to be spent exploring that narrative and developing a deeper understanding of his or her self by using more traditional therapies
There can however be some occasions when the most appropriate action is actually no action. Inaction at a time like this can at first seem counter intuitive and difficult to accept. Emotional distress of whatever sort is at best uncomfortable and at worst debilitating. Why should such feelings ever be tolerated?
Perhaps that decision to tolerate and accept comes when the client is able to see that the unpleasant feelings are just an understandable part of the challenge of daily life An example may be feeling nervous before an important event or being ill at ease in walking into a crowded room and having to talk with strangers.
In these situations I will sometimes use a phrase within the therapy room about becoming ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable’.
This may be particularly relevant at this time of year. The summer has been great. Quality time has been spent perhaps with family or partner away from work, colleagues, university, school or wherever. Now however the time has come to return to work. The daily routine beckons. And just what will you be returning to?
For some who absolutely embrace their role and delight in time spent at work, there can be a sense of excited anticipation to be enjoyed. For others there is perhaps a more uneasy feeling at the prospect of walking back into work with a concern as to what awaits. There may be apprehension about workload or about a potentially difficult encounter with an awkward colleague. Those uncomfortable feelings may be unpleasant but they can be regarded as acceptable and manageable.
For some however this type of concern can invoke a sense of foreboding. In extreme cases the prospect of returning can bring about a malevolent dread which stalks and perhaps ruins the closing days of the holiday. In those cases the comment that ‘I should not be feeling like this’ is very apt – and in those situations that level of individual discomfort really needs to be resolved.
One way of evaluating this level of personal discomfort is to consider where we place ourselves along a spectrum of concern. To feel some unease about a return to say the workplace after a period of absence has a ring of normality about it. Just like other events such as that first date with someone very special or the opening match of the new sporting season, thoughts of a return after a long absence invite anticipation and anxiety. Perhaps we can describe that disconcerting feeling as just a feature of the human condition.
If however that feeling persists then there really is a problem to be dealt with. If that unpleasant sensation grows rather than diminishes each time we turn into the car park or if the feeling develops to such an extent that the anxiety turns into that nameless dread then there is an issues to be addressed.
In those situations something clearly needs to be done. Those statements of concern present a cry to be heard and not ignored or rationalised away. There is a call for action.
And it is at those times when the best response may be to pick up the telephone or type out the email address and make that first contact with a therapist. And the reason for the call?
There really is something wrong. I should not be feeling like this………….!
added on 1st September 2014
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