I Couldn't Care Less:Counsel Benefits

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A hypodermic needle and a vial

Counsel Benefit

Have you ever considered counselling? I mean, I'm not suggesting that you should, or anything, I'm sure you shouldn't. Unless you're 2legs. Actually, I'm being doubly flippant there (maybe I should take up diving) in as much as not only is 2legs not in need of counselling (there is nothing they can do) but there is no good reason why any of us might not want the services of a counsellor. They are potentially invaluable and I need them and I can't get them. Here's why.

I should start by pointing out that all of my experience is of so-called 'person centred' counselling. This is a method that derives its solutions from the client. The net result is that what you will spend most of your time doing with a person centred counsellor is talking about yourself. They won't tell you what to do and they won't give you solutions or answers, but they will give you a space to talk about you and your issues and worries, and they will help guide you towards solutions that you devise. That really is more effective than it sounds. Even if all you do is talk without resolution for 50 minutes talking about yourself (how often do you do that?) to someone who won't judge, criticise, laugh or get angry, anxious or ambivalent1. Honestly, I have come out of counselling sessions feeling so much lighter and more relaxed just for having been able to get stuff off my mind. So it does work, although doubtless not always.

So why do I need it? Well, I'm a carer, obviously. Right now I'm unemployed, which is stressful. I'm watching a Government pick apart the welfare system to the extent that I worry more and more about the impacts on our finances of the long term unemployment prospects I'm worrying about. The thing is, my wife suffers from depression, among other things. So while I am trying to process my own worries I am also trying to soothe her anxieties which, to a large extent, means concealing my concerns and convincing her that I'm not worried. Sometimes this means I end up convincing myself of this fact. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes it doesn't.

So here I am, unemployed and recognised by social services as a carer. I have stuff on my plate, and everyone around me is saying that carers are saving the country millions, or possibly billions. About two, maybe two and half years ago, I was going every month to a support group for carers of people with mental health problems. Then the charity (yeah, it's always the charities) who were running that group lost their funding and the group closed down and it wasn't replaced. I phoned carer for the carers, the local charity (don't worry kids, the economy is recovering) who support carers. They have a very long waiting list, and I had counselling from them (albeit abortive after my counsellor took sick leave) and they didn't think they could give me any more at the moment. I can't blame them. They are, remember, a charity. They do what they can. The last time I spoke to my GP he said the only thing he could do for me these days was refer me to an Australia University website on which I could do the cognitive behavioural therapy course. He said this with some regret, and after several weeks during which he had no idea what the current mental health provision was. It wasn't his fault either, nobody knew what was going on. We all do our best. Well, almost all. The Government released their Autumn Budget Statement today. I'll get on to them next week.

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09.12.13 Front Page

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1No, I know it doesn't make any sense, but how could I miss the potential alliteration?

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