Note: this post is discussing private psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counselling, rather than therapy accessed through public healthcare such as the HSE or NHS.
According to a study conducted by the University of California – Los Angeles verbalising our emotions makes our negative feelings such as sadness, anger and pain less intense. Furthermore, putting our feelings into words – talking to a therapist or friend helps us to feel better.
Talk therapy is especially useful for those experiencing a mental health difficulty such as an anxiety disorder or depression. A therapist provides a confidential, safe space to explore your thoughts and feelings. They can be a sounding board, someone to guide you through difficult feelings and someone to offer a different perspective, one that you might not consider on your own.
Therapy is also helpful for anyone struggling to manage emotions and stressors, even the ones that aren’t life altering or traumatic. It can help an individual establish and maintain better emotional wellness.
Counselling is generally confidential*, so there’s little fear of having a therapist tell the world about the difficulties you are experiencing. Therapists/counsellors must adhere to a code of ethics which protects both themselves and the client, some of the things usually outlined in this is the client’s right to respect & dignity, confidentiality, competency & continued education/supervision and professional responsibility.**
There are some misconceptions about this kind of therapy –
- A therapist won’t magically ‘fix’ all of your problems for you but they will facilitate conversation to help you navigate your own way through them while offering support and a listening ear.
- Therapy is not lying on a couch or some strange Freudian dream, it will likely involve both parties having a conversation while sitting opposite each other.
- Therapy is not for ‘crazy’ people. All sorts of people attend talk therapy for a whole host of reasons. Mental ill health/a diagnosed mental health condition, a major life transition, relationship difficulties, grief and difficulty coping with every day stress are just some of the reasons people seek the help of a professional therapist.
- Therapy is a waste of money when you could just speak to your friends or family. True, you could speak to your friends or family and it definitely is important to have supportive relationships with people you can trust. However, a therapist has training and experience that loved ones don’t and they are a neutral party capable of making objective observations because their relationship with you is not clouded by emotion.
When looking for a therapist/counsellor you should always seek someone who is fully qualified. In Ireland, most qualified counsellors are accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. The IACP provide a directory of professionals on their website where you can search by location, see what each therapist specialises in and access their contact details.
*A counsellor/therapist may break confidentiality when required to do so by law or when they believe that a client may cause harm to themselves or others.
**To view the IACP Code of Ethics click here.
Need advice or help? Click here for a list of charities and organisations who could help. Alternatively, click ‘directory of professionals’ above to access a list of therapists in Ireland.