Understand the past, embrace the present, enjoy the future

BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor

My office provides a safe environment in a pleasant relaxed location on the outskirts of Basingstoke, with easy access and ample parking
Call - 07775725137

A personal trainer for the mind…

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I am very fortunate in the location of my consulting room.  If pleasant surroundings can help the counselling process then the situation of my office should provide my clients with some immediate support. Sitting within an old country house with a history which goes back to Jane Austen and beyond, the view from my window looks out across green fields and sheep to gently rolling country side in the distance – despite being surprisingly near to Basingstoke in North Hampshire

As a large centre this building is home to many different organisations. That can also be useful for some clients. It means that when visitors come into the building, their reason for visiting is cloaked in anonymity.  As far as any informal observer is concerned, the purpose could be to talk to any of the organisations located here – and that can include recruitment consultants, IT specialists or marketing organisations rather than a therapist.  For some that sense of confidentiality is important.  Perhaps that highlights the ambiguity which a number of clients can feel about visiting a therapist or counsellor.

Some people will be quite up front about the need to do some work with a counsellor on a challenging personal issue.  Others may be more hesitant and feel a sense of apprehension or awkwardness about deciding to see a therapist. There are very different ways of processing this decision and I can understand the thinking of those who are hesitant about the process and do not want others to know what support is being sought.

It may be that the way in which we think about approaching therapy impacts on our willingness to enter into the counselling room.  One approach which some have found helpful is to think about counselling support in the same way we consider the use of the personal trainer. 

Many people will now seek support within a fitness centre for a personal trainer.  The decision to seek one to one support in the gym does not necessarily mean that an individual is grossly unfit or in poor overall shape.  It may be that she or he just wishes to tone up one part of their physical being to meet a forthcoming challenge, perhaps something like a charity run.

We can also decide to think of coming to counselling in a similar way.  Clients will walk into the counselling room for many different reasons. Sometimes it may just be to find some help to deal with one particular aspect of their emotional lives which is causing concern, perhaps a particular fear or phobia.  Therapies particularly CBT or Solution Focussed work can be particularly effective in focussing on one specific area of need which may be out of line with a life where there is much else to celebrate. 

Of course counselling can also deal with much wider and deeper personal issues where there is much distress or fear and that work may go on for some time.  This mirrors the same way that the personal trainer can also work for many sessions with those who accept that they are perhaps unfit and in need of ongoing support. 

We do not think critically of those who look for support in the gym from a personal trainer. In fact we often applaud the intention.  Perhaps the same should also be true for those who go for an emotional or cognitive workout in the counselling room. 

Our emotional health is as important as our physical health. As with the trainer in the gym, professional counselling can provide the one to one support which can help us to both rebuild and sustain good emotional health.  For some, to change their approach to counselling and to think in terms of that idea of the personal trainer may encourage a first contact with a counsellor – particularly if there are those pleasant surroundings and the rolling Hampshire countryside!

Geoff Boutle

added on 12th March 2012

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