In the chair: How to prepare for therapy

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Starting counselling can be very stressful. Often it comes after months on a waiting list and it’s entirely feasible that the original motivation for your therapy has long since ceased to dominate your daily life. That doesn’t mean that the work doesn’t still need to be done. For some people, starting that process will be a massive relief, for others it presents multiple challenges, mixed feelings and a lot of anxiety. Having been through the process various times in recent years, here are a few pointers that might help alleviate the anxiety of the hot seat:

 

  • Housekeeping: Make sure that you know all the administrative details in advance of your session i.e. where it will take place, cost, time constraints, cancellation policies etc. Minimising any complications ahead of time will help it to be a therapeutic, rather than anxiety-ridden experience.
  • What a girl wants: To make most effective use of your sessions, you should spend some time thinking about what you see as the ideal outcome. It will help you to have an overarching focus or theme during your sessions.  Some examples might be: ‘I want to feel more confident in social situations’ or ‘I want to learn to recognise toxic people around me’.
  • Talking therapy: It’s called talking therapy for a reason – that’s what you’re there for. Try to think of your therapist as a sounding board. They aren’t there to judge or to advise you, but to help you recognise where you are and what you’re struggling with.
  • It’s not you, it’s them: If you don’t feel comfortable with the therapist that you are allocated (if you go through your GP or a large organisation) then it is totally fine to ask to see someone else. It’s not a personal affront, it’s your preference and it is ALL ABOUT YOU.
  • A room of one’s own: Just like finding the right therapist to work with, the space in which you do it is also important. Taking the time to make the space your own should make you feel safe, as well as powerful. It might be helpful to bring some home comforts with you, such as a pair of slippers, a favourite blanket or scarf to get cosy with. If you fancy it, essential oils can be helpful for calming or energising.

 

Above all, there are no rules. Counselling is an intensely personal process that should be both challenging and supportive. It’s a self-centric, but by no means selfish endeavour. Pull up a chair and get stuck in!

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Summer Self-Lovin’

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Summer is a great time for recharging, reminiscing and renewing yourself – the days are longer, the weather is (sometimes) better. You might even have a little holiday planned. But, it’s been a dismal old time here in the UK, and maybe your mental health is a little worse for wear.

If so, here are a few summer self-care suggestions:

  • What’s your flavour?: Try a new flavour of something – ice-cream, hummus or, if there’s still a chill in the air, maybe a rose and cardamom hot chocolate might be up your street… Variety is the spice and all that.
  • Check it out: Health checks – important business – if you’re worried about anything, whether it’s lumps and bumps or suspected gluten intolerance, don’t wait for it to wreak havoc! Get checked out and get treated.
  • Road trip!: Travel if you can, dream if you can’t. Making mood boards from holiday magazines might help a little…
  • Shrink to size: Get therapy. Identify what needs repair (if you don’t already know) and work on what you’re struggling with, NOT what someone else wants you to fix. An outsider’s take on situation offers perspective, too.
  • Funny side: Find something to make yourself laugh – it might be something you overhear, or a hideous selfie from a friend or someone else’s infectious laugh.
  • Magical Me: Channel your inner Gilderoy Lockhart and speak only good things about yourself. Although, try to make sure that they’re actually true… Write down every genuine compliment you get – treasure them.
  • Supreme clean: Establish good habits before winter comes and snatches you up into hibernation faster than you can say ‘White Walker’. A habit supposedly takes 30 days to take hold, so start now! I’m trying to kick my sugar dependency (trying being the operative word).
  • Take no prisoners: Self-love and self-care are, of course, totally personal. Stepping back from toxic relationships, or ones that are unsustainable in order to focus on yourself is better for everyone.
  • Go forth and multiply: If you have a craft, hone it. Write a novel, whip up a zine, work on a painting, whistle a tune… If you don’t think you have a craft yet, experiment with new ones to find your niche. Make/ write/ draw/ sing stuff. Do it now. You can, I promise.

 

Hope your summer lovin’ has you a blast.

Oh, you crafty minx!

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Here’s one I made earlier…

 

So, to ease you into this post about getting your mitts busy, let’s go back to 1943 and a philosopher and psychologist, Maslow. He created something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He said that human needs can be categorised into different levels, ranging from Physiological (food, water, sex, shelter…) to Self-Actualization which is where things like morality, spontaneity and CREATIVITY come in.

 

‘According to Maslow’s model, when we desire to create, when we desire to delight ourselves and others by bringing something new into the world, we are actively expressing one of the highest aspects of our human potential.’ (Source: austinhillshaw.com)

 

So, my crafty little minxes, by getting crafty and creating something, you are entering a hallowed land of higher thought. Transcend with me (and ignore Maslow when he says you need to master all the rest before you can create – you can do whatever you damn well please) and let your therapy be of your own making. Literally.

 

Here are some ideas for projects you could get your teeth into:

  • Time for a change: Take a dress or cardigan that you’re a bit bored with and change its buttons for some new jazzy ones. Try a different colour or shape. Be bold! Sewing on a button is super easy but if you’ve never done it there are a squillion youtube tutorials.

 

  • Sleep easy: Get crafty in the bedroom with lavender sachets or even monogramming your pillow cases, you fancy-pants you.

 

  • Draw your attention: Get a liquid chalk pen (really cheap at crafty shops) and doodle on mirrors or windows. Makes you feel like a naughty child which is an added bonus.

 

  • One at a time: If you’re not feeling up to a whole undertaking, try just knitting one row, or stitching a few stitches. Slow and steady, right?

 

  • Bake and make: Baking is a particular kind of joy. Indulge. Or make a beautiful soup and make lunch an event.

 

  • Mix it up: Make an old-fashioned mix-tape for a friend or yourself – you could go the whole hog and put it on cassette… or maybe a Youtube playlist would be more practical… A friend of mine did this for me recently and it made me feel like jiggling.

 

 

  • Pop art: Brighten up your world. Sand down a photo-frame and zap it neon! Good for a languid summery day. Take juice breaks.

 

  • Fascinating: Make a hair piece or fascinator. Use an old comb or clip to bedazzle. You should probably add glitter.

 

Whatever you do, make like Maslow!