I have often said to people in relation to finding a counsellor or therapist that there is value in ‘shopping around.’ By that I mean there is value in them meeting with a number of different therapists for an initial meeting to see who they feel they would most like to work with. Factors to consider might include the availability of the therapist and therefore the time of day they can see them, the location of the therapist and the way in which the therapist works – the modality in which they are trained in. However, and what I consider to be most important, is who the client feels they can actually talk to and build a relationship with. Who is it they feel the most comfortable with, to sit with, on a weekly perhaps more frequent basis, and begin to open up to.
My experience of needing to ‘shop around’ happened when I encountered difficulties feeding my first child. During the initial days after birth where conversations with a health visitor were routine, despite being brief, I found myself asking the same questions. This was largely due to the fact I would see a different health visitor each time who would give me a different answer to what I’d heard previously! This left me feeling confused and dissatisfied with what I was hearing and so I continued to try and seek out some clarity to my growing list of concerns.
I questioned what it was that I was looking for and what continued to drive me for answers. What drove me was a sense of distrust of what was being said to me. This was partly due to receiving a variety of responses to the same question and feeling dissatisfied with what I was being told. I didn’t want to be dictated to, nor did I feel my concerns warranted being told what to do. What I needed was for someone to take the time to really listen to me and work with me to help me overcome some of the difficulties that I was experiencing.
There was certainly benefit in my continuing to ‘shop around’. After ending up in hospital very ill with an infection as a result of inadequate post birth care, I finally contacted a specialist named Rosie after being advised it might prove beneficial to contact someone who was more qualified to help. On speaking to Rosie, I immediately felt at ease and confident that she could provide the support I needed. She asked me what had been happening and listened attentively to what I was telling her. I didn’t feel rushed or interrupted; instead Rosie allowed me to tell my story. I didn’t feel judged or wrong in any way over the concerns I had, nor did I feel that any question was stupid. Rosie didn’t proceed to start telling me what to do, however she did put my mind at ease on sharing her thoughts in response to what I was telling her and what she thought could be achieved long term. Getting the support I received from Rosie proved invaluable.
In regards to counselling and psychotherapy, qualities such as feeling listened to without judgement, that nothing you say is deemed wrong or stupid, where you are given space to talk with someone who will respond to what you are saying, are all important qualities in helping to build the foundations of a good, therapeutic relationship with a qualified counsellor or therapist who can work with you to help facilitate the changes in your life that you want to achieve. Many people have described a helpful therapist to me as being someone who ‘just got them.’ I felt Rosie ‘got me’ and that certainly proved helpful for me in terms of my ability to trust her and to be open to her support and guidance.
Other than our closest relationships with friends and family, I do wonder whether we are limited in developing other intimate relationships where we have the opportunity to feel known and supported. Perhaps this is a reflection of our changing society, an example being changes in health care. From speaking to older generations of women, their experience of having children is different to women having children today. There appeared to be a greater continuity of healthcare in the past; not only did families already have a GP and by that I mean a named GP that would see members of the same family if they were unwell, but they had a named health visitor who would schedule frequent appointments before and after the birth of their child. We could argue that this type of arrangement lends itself to both the client and the practitioner forming a close relationship providing the opportunity for the client to feel known and supported.
I’m not suggesting that people don’t feel supported by GP’s and health visitors today but arrangements for such support are slightly different. Most people today do not have a named GP that they go and see but are registered at a surgery whereby they could see any one of a number of GP’s each time they make an appointment. At my previous health centre I had a named GP that I was given upon joining, I don’t at the one I’m registered at now. In regards to women having children, they are likely to see a number of different health visitors pre and post baby and appointments are less frequent than they were for example in the 1980’s. This arrangement may suit some people who value the opportunity to hear from several health visitors or doctors, as opposed to only hearing from one or two. Either way, I think it’s important to bear in mind that there are options if one wishes to ‘shop around’ for support, regardless of whatever arrangement is already in place.
Further information on the support Rosie provides can be found at: