How does integrative counselling work?

Counselling offers you the time, space and opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings.
The integrative-relational approach emphasises the intentional use of the therapeutic relationship between client and counsellor. It draws on both humanistic and psychodynamic perspectives and draws on more than one theory.  It is a flexible and empathic way of working and it allows the counsellor to use the right approach tailored to your individual needs.
In counselling you will be helped to explore your life and its issues, enabling you to discover the right path without being offered advice or solutions. Many of the answers you are looking for lie within you, so counselling can help you acknowledge your strengths and develop a wider range of coping strategies.
Counselling is helpful when you feel ‘stuck’ or unable to move forward with your life repeating the same unhelpful patterns with little understanding of why. You may have symptoms of depression or be suffering from feelings of loss and isolation, with little or no sense of direction.
In addition to the modalities: psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, humanistic, existential and transpersonal that form the basis of integrative therapy I also blend Mindfulness, CBT and Body Psychotherapy into the therapeutic mix.
Mindfulness is a particularly transformative approach which focuses on staying in the present. It is a wonderful and powerful holistic approach that embraces the body, the mind and neuroscience with Eastern spiritual beliefs. It is very grounding and extremely useful for clients suffering from anxiety disorders or depression, and anyone wanting to become more aware.
Mindfulness supports you to notice how your mind is working and what goes on in your body simultaneously, to tolerate distressing feelings and thoughts without becoming overwhelmed by them, and to become more accepting of what ‘is’. It is a very potent approach that is especially change-making when combined with CBT.



Why Come into counselling?

The triggers for coming into counselling are all a reflection of what it is to be human.
Sometimes the source can feel unknown or elusive, hard to understand or control and leave feelings of a general sense of unhappiness or hopelessness, whilst for others the presenting issue may be known.
It is useful to have some ideas of what you would like to achieve from your counselling experience.
A useful acronym for goal setting is the "SMART" goal.
Make sure your goals are:

Specific:  vague terms are not useful and can easily be confusing.

Measurable:  how will you know if the goal has been achieved?

Achievable:  don't set impossibly high targets for yourself.

Realistic:  you know yourself, what can you actually do?

Time-limited:  set a period in which this will be achieved/or establish regular reviews for longer on-going work to help track your progress.

Remember:  A therapeutic goal like "I want to feel happier" is not much use if you don't know how to get there.  You need to feel you are achieving something in order to remain optimistic, and small achievements are easier than huge ones. You will not make the changes you want in one go, but in smaller steps.

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” – Chinese Proverb


© Estelle Maxwell 2013