I’ve been on the waiting list for counselling for just over six months and last week received the letter I’d been waiting for… a space had become available and I’d been allocated my first session! At the moment I’m in a position where I’m available any time because I had to hand in my resignation, but I’m not sure what would have had to happen if I had been working!
I turned up slightly early and sat in the waiting room nervously. I was very aware of the smell, which was a combination of must and damp (my session was booked in a community centre so the building is used for lots of different activities) and I was greeted by my counsellor with a friendly smile and a very soft voice. I followed her down the corridor to a small room with a kitchenette and two chairs facing each other, spaced a few feet apart.
Before starting anything, she asked how I was feeling at that moment. I said I was a little nervous, but better now that I was actually there, and she reassured me and put me at ease instantly. I’d never met or seen my counsellor before, but her body language, friendliness and soft, comforting voice made me feel so relaxed, like I could tell her anything.
To begin, she told me that anything I told her would remain confidential, unless I told her anything which may put myself or someone else at harm, in which case she would have a duty of care to pass the information on! She also told me that the session would last 50 minutes, and each week I would have to fill out a quick form with a few questions asking me to indicate, on a scale of 1-9, how my mood, actions and emotional state has been over the last 2 weeks. This was fairly quick and after scanning it quickly she asked me to tell her a bit about myself.
I rattled on for ages about myself and I could feel myself jumping from topic to topic in the same way that my tangled up, spaghetti brain is functioning. Somehow though, just getting it all out in the open felt a lot better. I was honest and open and annoyingly the time went so quickly. Before I knew it, the session was over! My counsellor told me that now she had an understanding of my backstory, next time the session would focus on one area of my life and we could try to break it down together and help relieve any anxieties.
On the whole I feel that counselling will be a positive experience for me, although I feel it would have had a much greater impact six months ago when I was first referred by my GP. I can’t imagine how many other people are on the waiting list, and how many people aren’t getting the help they really need. The irony is, although it’s fantastic that more awareness is being directed towards mental health, and more people are visiting their GPs and being referred for help, there just aren’t enough counsellors! You visit the GP when you need help at that moment in time, so having to wait like I did, can be even more stressful and make you quite despondent.