I have been reflecting recently about how client's have been presenting with what seems to be surface issues such as a general feeling of unhappiness or dissatisfaction with relationships.
Scratch the surface and under this veneer lies stuff that's been hanging around for years going back to early childhood or even infancy.
Client's manage these feelings into adulthood by filling time with being busy, working hard, achieving high grades at school, getting a good degree, high achievers at work, being the brightest and best at what they do.
Often they are the envy of their friends, appearing to "Have it all", and yet............
They come to see me feeling depressed and anxious, lacking joy and happiness realising these feelings have been dogging them for years. They have tried pushing these feelings down "maybe if I work harder, achieve more I will feel better?" as if working harder, longer will make these feelings disappear.
Sometimes client's will "self-medicate" with drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, tobacco, gambling, sex and overworking to "fill a hole in their soul".
They sort of know something is wrong or there's something wrong with me? Why aren't I happy? From all appearances and the outside world I have everything, but inside I feel worthless, empty.
Something happens that slows things down or speeds this up; the breakdown of a relationship, a partner leaves, someone close dies suddenly or diagnosed with a terminal illness, work becomes too much with work-related stress, they can't sleep or function anymore and thoughts of suicide emerge. The client visits his GP and is diagnosed with anxiety and depression and given medication. They think "I must be weak" something else to chastise themselves over!
Perhaps someone close to them suggests they see a counsellor "What me?" "I just need to pull myself together""talk to a stranger!!". They think about this suggestion and do a quick Google search to see who what where there are counsellors nearby or maybe further away from home. They find me on myVistaprint website, Counselling Directory, Adwords or NaturalTherapyForAll.
Clients often comment on the warmth of my photo and the content of what I write strikes a chord with them.
This is a fairly typical case study of clients who come to see me.
So what do I do? First and foremost I listen and hear about how they have been feeling and thinking and find out about their lives, struggles and achievements, what has made them the person they are today. What happened to them over the years and how did they decide to be the person they are today?
We then make a plan together for the work ahead... sound OK to you?