My experience with counselling

There are a lot of topics and blog post ideas that I want to write but have always felt a bit weird about.

This is either because it’s very personal. Or it’s about thing’s which are kinda frowned upon when it comes to openly talking about them. Or it’s just going to drag up things I don’t partially want to think about.

This blog post is going to tick all three of those boxes.

Mental health is a lot more understood and known about in society today than it was 5 years ago, so it’s much more common for people to seek help and be open about seeking help. As well as people knowing a bit more about where they can go for this help.

Counselling is a very common service for people to opt into either off their own back or through a doctor’s recommendation. And for the majority of people this service has helped them overcome things going on in their life.

But I understand that this isn’t always the case.

Before I share my experience I do want to point out that counselling and talking to people about what’s going on is a very effective way of dealing with things and has helped so many people in the world.

But for one reason or another I was an anomaly.

When I was around 15 years old a friend convinced me to sign up to the free, anonymous counselling sessions at my school. Despite talking to my friends about the things I was going through I didn’t open up to anybody else. Not even my family so I thought that maybe this could help me.

I would go along every week or every two weeks for an hour (usually skipping Spanish which is probably why I failed it) and I would speak with the lady about my life.

At first I thought it would be a good way to get things off my chest and relieve some of that pressure. You hear a lot of great stories of how counselling has been a godsend to many people who are struggling with things in live.

But this wasn’t the case for me.

Like many counselling sessions we would sit there and talk about my life and how I was feeling – in the hope that I would come out of it feeling at least a little bit better.

But my counsellor had this wonderful way of dragging up all the things I really didn’t want to talk about – which left me leaving the sessions feeling a hell of a lot worse.

I would go back to my classroom for lunch and just not speak to anybody because of the way I was feeling. It would make me think about the things that were troubling me even more and in result make me feel pretty crappy.

But I carried on going to the sessions until I moved schools to do my A Levels, and I have no idea why I bothered.

There was nothing about sitting in a small, dark room with weird candle-style lighting, with a person I didn’t know, talking about my problems that made me feel A-OK.

In fact when I think about it now it’s a very weird and uncomfortable situation.

The whole idea of counselling is just not for me.

Although the saying goes that only you can fix your problems, I always felt like my counsellor did nothing. She never tried to help me fix the things I was talking about and was more interested in dragging up the crap that made me feel like crap afterwards.

Talking to people about the things that you’re going through is so important and CAN help. This doesn’t mean that counselling is the way forward. In fact it wasn’t until I started opening up to those close to me that I actually started to feel a lot better.

Of course it’s awkward at first because you don’t know what to say and they don’t know how to respond. Especially when this sort of thing wasn’t spoken about that often.

I mean our parents weren’t brought up with a manual on this stuff when they were planning to have kids nor was it a spoken thing when they were growing up either.

But sometimes it’s not a stranger who can help but those who know you best. Who know your favourite dinner that they can cook to make you happy. Who know which film to put on to cheer you up. Who know how to deal with you when you’re in a mood.

Counselling is a great free service on the NHS and is a great option if you feel like that can’t talk to those close to you – which was why I started in the first place.

But how can a stranger really care for you? They haven’t known you for any longer than an hour a week. They don’t know what makes you smile or cry. They don’t know anything accept what you tell them.

Whether it’s your family or friends or your partner. They are your real support and although they may not know what to say or what to do, they know you – and that’s what can really make all the difference.

If you’ve tried counselling and it’s not working for you then try opening up to those around you. Educate them on the situation and you never know they might surprise you.

Photos by Alexander Ward – Website | Instagram





  1. September 24, 2017 / 10:55 pm

    Thank you for this! I didn’t get along with counselling and despite all that’s going on, have felt pressured to go back several times and made to feel crazy and like it’s my fault for not having worked. I’m glad I’m not just strange and this is helping me accept there are other ways that may be better for me. In contrast, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you and hope you’ve found a better alternative x

    • September 24, 2017 / 11:18 pm

      In theory the idea of talking to people about whatever it is that is going on in your life does work. It’s just about who you talk to and how they react that matters. Sometimes you need that personal support rather than a stranger who’s job is to just listen.

  2. February 5, 2018 / 8:37 pm

    I’m a counsellor, and you’re so right in that it’s not for everybody (or at least, not every client and I are going to be right for each other). A huge amount of the positive effects from counselling come from a good rapport between client and counsellor, and if you don’t click with someone you can’t force it. My advice is always to shop around for a counsellor if you don’t feel a connection within the first couple of sessions. Also, a small dark candle-lit room sounds terrifying..!
    Great suggestion to open up to those closest to you if you feel able, and glad it worked for you, it sounds like you have lovely friends 🙂

  3. May 14, 2018 / 8:37 pm

    This post is so beautifully written & so honest.

    Although I am not a counsellor, my job role involves people opening up to me on a 1:1 basis about very personal issues and matters for them. And yes, some of the people I work with find this easier than others.

    Like I said, i’m no counsellor but if there is any advice you could give to me as a worker sitting on the other side of the table to help someone who felt how you did back in school please let me know!

    I always encourage the people I work with to open up to family & friends as I think this itself can be so helpful as you say!

    Thank you Emmi 🙌🏼

    • May 14, 2018 / 9:23 pm

      I know that in counselling situations you can’t really offer your own opinion on the situation or give them answers but just give them something. Tell them how some people find it easier to talk to friends, or to write it all down. Help them find what it is that’s going to help them in the end. It might not be you but you can help lead them there.

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