We hope these client case studies will provide an insight into therapy and how it works. Although they have been written by us, they are based on real work with clients, although we have mixed things up a little and changed names so nobody can be identified.
How CBT helped Sarah deal with stress and anxiety
I decided to get some help when I found myself feeling very stressed at work and struggling to cope with the feelings I was having in meetings. Eventually I walked out of one, and that was enough to make me realise I needed to do something.
I arranged an initial session with John and we worked using cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT). This approach involved me looking at some of the specific worries I was having at the time, and in doing so I realised how much pressure I put myself under to ‘succeed’ in everything I did. As I got older, the expectations just seemed to mount up and in situations I felt I couldn’t control I experienced very high levels of anxiety (fearing I was ‘failing’).
John helped me understand the thinking patterns underlying my problems and taught me a range of ways to change things, from challenging some negative thoughts I had about myself to doing more things to relax and wind down. Although it took a while, I gradually found myself feeling more able to cope. I realised what I expected of myself was unreasonable and I just cut myself a bit more slack.
The CBT really helped me. Although I was nervous to start with, I found John friendly and understanding. After a few meetings, I began really looking forward to my sessions, as a chance to talk about things – something I didn’t seem to have elsewhere. It was a very positive experience for me.
If, like Sarah, you wish to speak to somebody about stress and anxiety, please contact us.
How counselling helped Stuart
I resisted speaking to someone for years, feeling I was strong enough to sort out my own mess. However it was the loss of a good friend that made me think 'what the hell' and pluck up the courage to see someone.
I organised an initial session with Peter, who was a psychologist specialising in counselling. It was difficult to start with, and I talked mainly about 'safer' topics linked to my difficulties coming to terms with my friend's death and the impact these were having on my life. Just talking was such a relief to me and Peter was really helpful in pointing out things in what I said that made me think. He was a good listening ear too who didn't seem to judge me for who and what I was.
Over time, I opened up and talked to him about difficult stuff from my past, as well as some of the problems I was having managing how much I drank. Again we talked a lot about these things and I was kind of able to make sense of why I did what I did and felt the way I did. This helped me change things, mainly by realising I was not to blame for things in the ways I'd feared.
That actually changed my life, as I realised how much I'd lived driven by guilt and anger. I now have a much healthier lifestyle and don't drink anything like the amount I used to. I still have low moments and remain on anti-depressants (my GP has a plan to stop these soon, which I guess I agree with). Mostly I feel content and have hope the future might offer me something more than I had expected. I have a college course coming up and think this might be the start of something new.
If, like Stuart, you need to speak to somebody about current difficulties you are experiencing or things that have happened in the past, please contact us.
How counselling and relationship/couples counselling helped Joanne and Paul with their relationship difficulties
We decided we needed to see a counsellor when all we ever did was argue. It was horrible and we both just wanted to find a way of stopping what seemed to be these never ending arguments – often about nothing at all.
We saw Susan, who specialised in relationship/couples counselling. Initially we focused on the ‘pattern’ we were in, helping us identify what it was we thought the other was doing that made us feel so provoked. She also gave each of us time and space in turn to talk about how we felt without interruption.
This was really important for us as in doing so it became really clear neither of us realised how much the other was struggling. Me because I was having a hard time at work and Paul because he just couldn’t seem to cope with his fears around our relationship not working out. Susan suggested he might need to see someone himself for some counselling to talk about things, which he did. We also continued to work on what was happening between us.
Both really helped – Paul managed to understand what was making him so scared and we realised we both had a habit of ‘testing’ each other, which was causing us to get into so many battles. Over time things improved as we learned to communicate more openly and to de-escalate conflict situations (i.e. we now have time outs!). I am pleased to say we are still together two years on – something that seemed impossible to envisage at the time.
If, like Joanne and Paul, you are having relationship problems and feel it would help to speak to somebody qualified to help, please contact us.