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Talking. Saturday December 3, 2016

The first counsellor I spoke with was ok. I was filled with trepidation and yet hopeful that this would finally unravel the complications. Perhaps even grow a way forward of green grass, winking with daisies. It didn't do either. The valuable spark was missing. She was pleasant but we had no chemistry. I made about five visits, cried a lot and left feeling just as confused as ever.

I returned to counselling a few years later. This time, much less hope, just desperation. I paid privately because by then I knew what I didn't want. I didn't want to just talk and be heard. I didn't want to feel the clock ticking (and I mean by counting visits not the minutes within the hour). I didn't want to stay stuck. I wanted a proper working visit. I needed to understand why I was ill. I needed to understand how I might make progress. And I needed someone to tell me it was ok and be level with me about how having hope and making progress are not the same. They need to live together but one alone will not do for very long.

I must confess it was like opening Pandora's box. It got messy. I simply couldn't have done it without a professional. When she had to move on, I didn't feel finished but I did feel I had made huge leaps forward. Over the next few years, I visited the same place on two other occasions and had a mind sweep up. Usually when I felt desperate and usually when I felt that the last resort of medication was appearing on the horizon (I am supportive of medication, but it is entirely personal and it has not been great for me).

My message is that counselling may not work the first time but do not be put off. You may need to try different counsellors. You may need to try many times. But nobody will bring them to you on a plate, you will need to persevere and seek and try. You may need to tell your doctor what you need rather than accept what the budget wants to offer. I did not need CBT, I needed a proper clinical psychologist to step inside and rummage for me. (Rummage. Another great and under used word.)

That one counsellor with whom I made most progress, made a life difference to me. I am still digesting her lessons 8 years on. I use some of it to counsel myself when I am in the middle ground of my ill spells. Counselling is far from an easy option. But it can be extremely valuable and I fear it is falling out of fashion or budget in many circles.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Anne Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 6:20am

As someone who has used counselling and now work as a counsellor...I really appreciated this blog....

Counselling has helped me see I have a reason to live and believe that I am worthwhile

Working with others is a gift and one I continue to work at...

Counsellors are human; we do our best and when it works it's powerful & when it doesn't it's sad....for both parties

Thank you for recognising the courage this path takes....for all who use it (& offer it)

Tutti Frutti Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 11:27am

Anne Good on you for being a counsellor. I quite agree with you and with RATG that you need to shop around for the right person to help you. You can even find that someone who is great on most things can have subjects where you just don't get anywhere. For instance my current counsellor who went into counseling after spending many years as a psychiatric nurse and uses REBT as well as general talking is generally really helpful. I thought it might be worth talking to him about why I comfort eat and couldn't get started on a diet. The best he could come up with was make a list of advantages and disadvantages of dieting and his parting shot was "because you'll be surprised there are disadvantages of dieting as well". I thought that this statement on dieting was completely fatuous and could only ever have been made by a thin man so I joined slimming world instead which I am glad to say has been much more useful. I have been back to my counsellor since about other things and I still think he is good but he just totally doesn't get weight issues. I am one of those who uses a combination of meds and counseling by the way. Love TF x PS I finally added the author of the bipolar workbook for Tychi's Mum to yesterday's blog late last night.

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 2:58pm

Hello Anne, you will be a very valuable counsellor having experience of both sides of the coin. I hope you can regularly have mind sweep ups of your own as it must be incredibly rewarding, but draining, doing this work. Love ratg x. TF, I would have thought getting to the bottom of 'why' would have been top of his list. That's very sad to think his professional input ended with 'make a list of advantage and disadvantages'. I would guess that the reason why goes back many, many years, maybe even to childhood...

Sally Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 7:26am

So pleased you wrote on this, Ratg. It was vital to me at the time I had counselling. I, like Anne, do think it has been undervalued of late, in favour of the quick fix, cheaper CBT option. Which at the time I had it would just not have been right for me. The first counsellor I had did an amazing job of helping me turn my life around, and to be given a fair hearing was bliss. i literally grew in confidence in a way I would not have believed possible before going in for counselling. I too discovered a reason for being, I shall always be grateful to that amazing counsellor.

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 2:59pm

I'm really pleased to hear it Sally, love ratg x.

Orangeblossom Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 8:24am

Thanks RATG for you honest & thoughtful blog. It is thought-provoking. I always appreciate your blogs & thanks for the time that you take to write them all good wishes Zareen

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 3:00pm

A pleasure...its my therapy! Love ratg x.

Hopeful One Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 8:30am

Hi RATG- thank you for highlighting a very common problem which I think which is under reported and under appreciated in the psychological world. The simple truth is that there is no ' one size fits all' when it comes to dealing with a new client with regard to both the psychological model employed or the councillor employing it. One of the reasons I think is that counsellors get blinded by their personal favourite theory and refuse to accept that it is not working as that would be admitting defeat. So yes as a client shop around until you find a counsellor who 'gels' with you. Not easy as there is a shortage of trained counsellors nationally and private counsellors are far too expensive for the ordinary person for that same reason.

As Moodscopers know I am busy developing LCBT ( L for laughter) so here is your instalment for today. No idea whether it is PC or not PC!


A noted psychiatrist was a guest speaker at an academic function where Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the United States House of Representatives) happened to appear. Ms. Pelosi took the opportunity to schmooze the good doctor a bit and asked him a question with which he was most at ease.
'Would you mind telling me, Doctor,' she asked, 'how you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?'
'Nothing is easier,' he replied. 'You ask a simple question which anyone should answer with no trouble. If the person hesitates, that puts you on the track.'
'What sort of question?' asked Pelosi.
Well, you might ask, 'Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?''
Pelosi thought for a moment, and then said with a nervous laugh, 'You wouldn't happen to have another example would you? I must confess I don't know much about history.'

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 3:04pm

I would agree HO, often there is a favourite theory or favourite therapy. I visited a CBT therapist who thought the world began and ended with being mindful. Whilst I recognise its importance, sometimes much work needs to be done long before we are ready to think about being mindful. (Its one of those words I have now heard so much it makes me squirm!) Love ratg x.

Mary Wednesday Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 8:31am

I have received huge amounts of counselling and benefitted hugely from maybe half of it! Yesterday I spoke to a consultant psychiatrist about permanent medication. He said that normally he would recommend a combination of drugs and therapy but that I seemed to have got the therapy thing sorted (he was hugely approving of writing for Moodscope as therapy). So, it's the drugs for me now. But only as a last resort: a physical solution for a physical problem that presents mental symptoms.

LP Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 10:06am

Mary I've said it before and I must say it again! I'' SO happy for you to take the suffering by the horns and hurl it out of the arena! Good for you! Why is it that we have to be critical to the point of life threatening before we get the right combination of talking and medication, If we've been told that that is what works best? Especially when there's often a clear diagnosis! Oh yes I forgot, there's not enough money for mental health unless its critical, but all manner of physical ailments are costing billions! And you're so right! Our brains ARE physical! What if we were being told when we break a bone or devolop a disease that we just have to change our thinking! When I was much younger I couldnt fathom why in this day and age women have to scream in agony and beg for pain relief in childbirth! It smacked of medieval times! Must stop now I' ve written reams today. Love LP xxx

Tutti Frutti Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 11:09am

Mary. Just to say that I really hope and pray that the permanent medication will work out well for you. Love TF x

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 3:05pm

Me too Mary, I hope meds can keep you on the straight and narrow without having to suffer the violent rigours of that rollercoaster. Love ratg x.

Anghared Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 8:50am

I am new to to Moodscope, very poorly in the summer diagnosed PTSD in hospital for a little while treated by a gentle sensitive and understanding psychiatrist who when I was discharged suggested that a psychologist would perhaps help me to continue on my road to becoming stronger, there was a massive waiting list on NHS I am still waiting, so looked around privately.

I found one, I had no idea what to expect but every time I came out of the session, I thought" what was that all about? Felt totally confused. I have persevered for two more sessions but the last one made me feel more unsettled after I came out then when I went in. I couldn't cope with what I felt were llong silences, is that normal? I decided to send a text explaining how I felt and I wouldn't be attending anymore, and I haven't had a reply.

I know that if would be good for me to find someone else, but feel anxious to start looking again.
Thankyou for your insightful piece of writing, it has given me hope and determination to find that right person, but for now Moodscope blogs so help me lots and lots.


the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 3:14pm

Hello Anghared, it does take such a lot to take that first step. Did you search for the private counsellor off your own back? I initially had a name from the doctor of someone with great experience. When I investigated, he had retired but I was then able to be in contact with the office he had left where there was a whole host of counsellors with different specialisms. That meant I could try one and then another. A good counsellor will understand the importance of 'clicking' and so should be quite happy for you to move on to someone else. I imagine you will feel anxious to start again. Being there is like walking into the room and taking off your clothes to be looked at so its not easy to contemplate doing it again! The silences...I suppose that could be times where they are allowing your mind space to spit out everything is has. If they filled the blanks you wouldn't be emptying out. In my attempt to explain things, a silence meant I would get to the core. Maybe like emptying a bin...and then getting the muck out of the corners. Your body can be your guide. If you feel you need it, you'll know when its time. I hope next time around you meet someone who can rummage for you. Love ratg x.

Jul Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 9:08am

Hi ratg. This has been an issue with me for many years and I admit I haven't sought a counsellor for a few years now since I feel I wasted a fair bit of time and money on 10 CBT sessions. I am interested you visit a clinical psychologist, very different in terms of training and remit from most therapists. This is the person I would like to see but so far have been put off by cost and maybe the misapprehension that clinical psychologists deal mainly with prescribing and adjusting medication for ones condition. I must be wrong about this since you say you have resisted medication. I know in America, it's different and their remit is primarily to find the right drugs for you. BTW I don't mind drugs but it's the experimenting (!) with many different ones before the right one is found that puts me off. I feel I haven't found the right medication or the right therapist and believe me, I've experimented with both. Moodscope as you know has been a life saver for me, the only addictive drug where the effects keeps getting better and the best therapy which lasts longer than the few hours following a therapy session. But as we know one size doesn't fit all so I do not have negative feelings towards the therapist themselves. I am sure your blog ratg will attract much interest. Love Julxxx

Hopeful One Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 11:19am

Hi Jul- the word 'clinical 'in the context of a clinical psychologist is a misnomer. The vast majority of them ,as far as I can tell, have no clinical experience (like that of a doctor) I think they created the title to distinguish them selves from psychologists who do not work woin a clinic with other mental health professionals like psychiatrists

Jul Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 1:08pm

Thanks Hopeful One. I thought you might know about this. As you will know the health system is different in America and I have a friend who has her drugs prescribed by a Psychiatrist I believe. I know that there is one profession who looks at your mental health strictly in relation to drugs. I think they are hard to find in the UK. I will ask my American pal who is so clued up about all this over there. I mean I will ask her what I am getting mixed up about. I understand now about the word Clinical. Thanks! Jul xx

Jul Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 1:10pm

Hi again. Your jokes which I enjoy as you know, have taken on another dimension now which adds to the humour. For me anyway.

Tutti Frutti Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 3:43pm

Jul Psychiatrists are the medical doctors who specialise in drug treatment for mental health conditions. There are Psychiatrists practising in the NHS but they are at consultant level so you will only get to see one on the NHS if your GP refers you or you have to go into hospital, which would generally only happen for severe mental health difficulties. Psychologists do talking therapies so are like counsellors. I think there are probably a range of bodies training counsellors and psychologists. The clinical ones who work within community mental health teams say, are likely to be well qualified. It's probably worth looking for information on the various qualifications counsellors may have to see what they mean before you choose a counsellor or psychologist. I would probably start with the NHS direct website or with a mental health charity's website. Love TF x

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 3:57pm

Hello Jul, there seems to be such a variance in counsellors and the perception is often that one counsellor or psychologist holds the same qualification as the next. It could be dangerous in my opinion. The ones I saw always pointed out that sometimes the medication would be helpful to raise the mood enough to allow the work to take place. As I was not keen, they each agreed to start and see what we could manage. If cost was not an issue, I would have a tidy up every year, taking in areas I felt I needed to grow. I am a slow learner and I have needed long spells to just let things sit with me and see how they develop. I found CBT thoroughly 'empty' for me. I've always felt there was a reason behind my low mood (and in terms of extreme lows there often is) but, like you, I feel there is a part of me that must accept I may never feel set free even though I am a naturally cheerful and happy person. It won't stop me becoming the very best I can be though and its that I will keep working on. Moodscope, and being understood by a peer group, is definitely my best tool. You guys keep me sane!! Love ratg x.

LP Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 9:43am

Ratg, I'm glad you wrote about this too!

I can't afford private therapy and in principle I believe in the NHS. I asked for so many years, most of my adult life in fact for long term open ended therapy. I tried everything that was suggested. A charity that had a 2 year limit. I went twice over the years. It was called councelling and deliberately not therapy. It was a safe place to talk and discover ways forward, I cried too, but It never went deep enough to get to my anger. Ive tried cbt more than once but it was to short for me to really benefit from long term.

I'm positive when it comes to such things and took whatever positive value that came from them but like you I felt and still feel that I need a clinical psychologist to really help me get into the difficult stuff, I'm too polite and avoidant to dig around in it without guidance!

I've been back to my gp on countless occasions over the years. I actually. Hanged my origional one of many years because she became exasperated and snappy with me not accepting that I'd had enough and that I need to employ the strategies I've been given. There simply isn't anything else available to me!
The next gp firstly recommended moodscope (Eternally grateful to her for that) and mood gym online self help I think which I havent tried. I'd still end up back to her during a crisis. she didnt think I met the criteria for psychiatry but refered me to the triage team (?) I was assessed and told that I get an appointment. I waited and followed up only eventually to be told by an administrator that I wasn't being offered a ything. Gp told me to chase it. Each time I had a crisis tending to be annually, triggered by circumstances Id go back. Asking for my medication to be reviwed each time.

All along I've had severe premenstual syndrome which has turned into perimenopause by now! I left it with my gp to chase it for me. That was a good while ago now.

With the medication I'm on and Moodscope (touch wood!) I'm getting by, but have fallen out with family and interpersonal hierachical work stress when my hormone levels change. The anxiety and anger surfaces and I havent been able to stop it affecting my life now even though I know its about my past.

I'm simply tired of asking.
There simply isnt the money as I'm not critical.
Plus I dont' feel strongly enough in between monthly meltdowns to do more than try to keep on top of things which is like running in water.

I'll stop about me! I'm so glad your journey was more fruitful ratg. Thank you for the opportunity to air my experience!
Much love to you and all and an enormous thank you to the tireless work of Caroline and the Moodscope Team:) LP xxxxx

LP Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 9:49am

Oh meant to mention incase it's relevant, medication has been various SSRIs. Currently slow realease venlafaxine morning and night 150 mg in total. Xx

Jul Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 1:17pm

LP. You are such a nice person! Too nice to have to put up with all this. I went to hell and back when I worked and have had problems over the years with family especially sibling problems. These days I don't have the work stress which for me outbid all the other stresses for damage to my health. I have distanced myself from my sibling at last although we do keep in touch from time to time about neutral subjects such as politics,(which we agree on)and clothes, houses, the weather, our hair. Very shallow topics I know but it keeps our texts/contact light hearted which for me is the answer. Take care LP (loving Petal), chin up, hold your head up high and you are right. Julxxx

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 4:13pm

I'm heart sorry for you LP! If someone would benefit from a clinical psychologist then lets gets them there!! In the long run it could make all the difference to needing meds/treatment for the rest of your life and having enough knowledge to uplift and manage ourselves! And you are managing yourself. I feel so frustrated by GPs who want the quick fix rather than the right fix. I know they have tight budgets but really...someone who is capable of learning and putting that knowledge into purposeful living action is worth spending on up front. They may never need to darken the GPs doorstep again! Freeing up space, and budget, for those who are in need of support and perhaps are too ill to benefit from a talking therapy. Grrrrrrr. Mad for you!! I will hop off ye olde soap box now :-) For what its worth, I think you are wonderful. Love ratg x.

Michael Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 9:36pm

It was only in the news 2 days ago that severe pms is to be treated with psychotherapy and that it is getting results. You are more likely therefore to get a referral for therapy from a gynaecologist

Michael Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 9:38pm

Ratg I totally agree with you about the quick fix GP comment

Another Sally Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 9:06am

Hello LP, I suffered for years with PMS and found it hard to see some of my low moods as separate from that. I don't know how it could be done,but feel that women need a lot more help and information for handling PMS. Many people look at a bad mood and say "oh, it's the time of the month". Well yes it may be, but my tolerance level really dropped and it was often hard to manage at work and then at home when I had children. I felt I really needed help and did not know where to go. There was an association called NAPS (National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome) don't know if it still exists, but anyone who is struggling with PMS, do try to get help - there are people out there with experience who can make suggestions. Primarily, keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel. No sweet snacks but nuts or something to help you between meals. I could go on but no time. I have found it hard to find the right therapist. My sister is a psychotherapist and reckons I would benefit, but I still wonder what I'm getting out of it. Thanks to ratg for bringing this up and to everyone for all their wonderful contributions. AS

LP Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 10:30pm

Aww thanks Jul! X Yes, it's both siblings with me now too. My parents have wanted to keep us all close. Too close I think. It's gone the opposite way. Xx

LP Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 10:35pm

That's good to hear Michael, thank you.xx

LP Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 10:37pm

Good points, Blood sugar makes a difference and there are cravings that probably dont help. Thanks AS.xx

LP Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 10:39pm

Awww it's worth alot lovely. Thank youxxx

Nicco Mon, Dec 5th 2016 @ 7:19pm

LP I really feel for you as I had similar probs with PMS. I found NAPS (National Assoc for Premenstrual Syndrome) to be of enormous help - and they help with the menopause too. Here's a link for you. Best Wishes, Nicco.

LP Mon, Dec 5th 2016 @ 9:45pm

Thanks Nicco. LP xx

Tychi's Mum Wed, Dec 7th 2016 @ 7:21am

LP I am four years into my journey of depression/mild bi-polar. It all started for me after coming off the contraceptive pill. I am convinced that my depression is partly hormonally driven. I recently sought the help of a gynaecologist who specialises in the menopause. I am 43 so it is approaching. She has put me back on the pill and I will continue to see her so that I can get the correct hormonal treatment throughout the menopause. You may be interested to look at the work of Proffesor John Studd. He has some VERY interesting ideas about hormonal depression including PMS. Good luck xxx

Michael Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 9:29pm

My first psychotherapist only lasted for one session. In a nutshell he did the equivalent of saying pull yourself together there are a lot of people worse off than you!
My second NHS psychtherapist listened but no feedback.
So i went private for a psychodynamic psych ( waiting list for that on NHS is 2 years!)
She is a perfect fit. She gives feedback and what I get most of all is a sense of context and perspective.
Worryingly I've been with her for a year and still haven't fallen I love with her ( transference) :)

the room above the garage Sat, Dec 3rd 2016 @ 10:20pm

:-D then perhaps she IS perfect! Seriously, I'm really glad you have something right for you. And it's sorrowful that it comes down to money and whether we are determined enough to be the broken record. Thank you Michael.

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