Benefits of counselling

  • Gain self awareness
  • Reduces stress
  • Counselling aims to help you deal with and overcome issues that are undesirable
  • It provides a safe and unthreatening space for you to talk and explore difficult feelings
  • You are heard and understood in a safe and confidential environment
  • The counsellor is there to support you and respect your views
  • Counsellors will not give advice, but will help you to find your own insight and understanding of your problems
  • Counsellors are trained to provide counselling to help you cope better with your life and any issues you have
  • Gain the knowledge required to make informed decisions relating to your personal experiences
  • Improve confidence and self esteem
  • Learn coping skills to help you overcome your challenges
  • Gain a sense of control over your life
  • Improve social relationships
  • Through exploration and rationalization of your thoughts and feelings you gain a sense that you are not entirely alone with your problems

Individual counselling

It is natural for us to worry. It is a sign we deeply care about something or someone. But if we start to worry so much that it paralyzes us or makes us feel bad, then it can become counterproductive. At that point, it can be helpful to have a technique to relax and reduce our stress levels so we can think in a more clear and balanced way again.

Signs and symptoms

While anxiety symptoms vary from person to person, in general the body reacts in a very specific way to anxiety. When you feel anxious, your body goes on high alert, looking for possible danger and activating your fight or flight responses. As a result, some common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Overthinking events that happened
  • Nervousness, restlessness or being tense
  • Feelings of danger, panic or dread
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing or hyperventilation
  • Increased or heavy sweating
  • Trembling or muscle twitching
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly about anything other than the thing you’re worried about
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive or gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, constipation, or diarrhea
  • A strong desire to avoid the things that trigger your anxiety
  • Obsessions about certain ideas, a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety surrounding a particular life event or experience that has occurred in the past, especially indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder

It’s important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But, if you’re feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.

Depression is considered a serious medical condition that can get worse without proper treatment. Those who seek treatment often see improvements in symptoms in just a few weeks.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of depression can be experienced differently among men, women and children differently.

Men may experience symptoms related to their:

  • Mood, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness
  • Emotional well-being, such as feeling empty, sad, hopeless
  • Behavior, such as loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in favorite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, engaging in high-risk activities
  • Sexual interest, such as reduced sexual desire, lack of sexual performance
  • Cognitive abilities, such as inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses during conversations
  • Sleep patterns, such as insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, not sleeping through the night
  • Physical well-being, such as fatigue, pains, headache, digestive problems

Women may experience symptoms related to their:

  • Mood, such as irritability
  • Emotional well-being, such as feeling sad or empty, anxious or hopeless
  • Behavior, such as loss of interest in activities, withdrawing from social engagements, thoughts of suicide
  • Cognitive abilities, such as thinking or talking more slowly
  • Sleep patterns, such as difficulty sleeping through the night, waking early, sleeping too much
  • Physical well-being, such as decreased energy, greater fatigue, changes in appetite, weight changes, aches, pain, headaches, increased cramps

Children may experience symptoms related to their:

  • Mood, such as irritability, anger, mood swings, crying
  • Emotional well-being, such as feelings of incompetence (e.g. “I can’t do anything right”) or despair, crying, intense sadness
  • Behavior, such as getting into trouble at school or refusing to go to school, avoiding friends or siblings, thoughts of death or suicide
  • Cognitive abilities, such as difficulty concentrating, decline in school performance, changes in grades
  • Sleep patterns, such as difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Physical well-being, such as loss of energy, digestive problems, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous.

Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.

There are two main types of stress:

  • Acute stress – This is short-term stress that goes away quickly. You feel it when you slam on the brakes, have a fight with your partner, or ski down a steep slope. It helps you manage dangerous situations. It also occurs when you do something new or exciting. All people have acute stress at one time or another.
  • Chronic stress – This is stress that lasts for a longer period of time. You may have chronic stress if you have money problems, an unhappy marriage, or trouble at work. Any type of stress that goes on for weeks or months is chronic stress. You can become so used to chronic stress that you don’t realize it is a problem. If you don’t find ways to manage stress, it may lead to health problems.

Stress and your body

Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make your brain more alert, cause your muscles to tense, and increase your pulse. In the short term, these reactions are good because they can help you handle the situation causing stress. This is your body’s way of protecting itself.

When you have chronic stress, your body stays alert, even though there is no danger. Over time, this puts you at risk for health problems, including:

Signs of too much stress

Stress can cause many types of physical and emotional symptoms. Sometimes, you may not realize these symptoms are caused by stress. Here are some signs that stress may be affecting you:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequent aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy or focus
  • Sexual problems
  • Stiff jaw or neck
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Upset stomach
  • Use of alcohol or drugs to relax
  • Weight loss or gain

Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.

While there are no objective criteria to evaluate which events will cause post-trauma symptoms, circumstances typically involve the loss of control, betrayal, abuse of power, helplessness, pain, confusion and/or loss. The event need not rise to the level of war, natural disaster, nor personal assault to affect a person profoundly and alter their experiences. Traumatic situations that cause post-trauma symptoms vary quite dramatically from person to person. Indeed, it is very subjective and it is important to bear in mind that it is defined more by its response than its trigger.

Signs and symptoms

Response to a traumatic event varies significantly among people, but there are some basic, common symptoms.

Emotional signs include:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Fear
  • Shame

These may lead to:

  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Emotional outbursts

Common physical symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Psychological disorders may include:

  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Substance abuse problems

Trauma debriefing

Trauma debriefing can be described as early interventions (as soon as possible after a traumatic event took place) or non-clinical forms of secondary prevention for traumatised people. There are a variety of different approaches used, including information and advice (e.g. psycho-education), self help groups, concrete and direct help (e.g. housing, financial assistance), psychological debriefing, crisis intervention, structured trauma counselling and brief psychotherapy to name just some.

The debriefing process is designed to enable the victim to re-experience the incident in a controlled and safe environment in order to make sense of and become reconciled to the traumatic incident.

Yes, there is a difference. Debriefing is not counselling or therapy nor is it a substitute for counselling or therapy. Whilst using some of the basic communication skills used in counselling, it is very different both in content and style from counselling.

Firstly, the debriefing is highly structured with the debriefer guiding you through a series of stages, looking at the traumatic event from different perspectives.

Debriefing usually stands alone as a single psychological crisis intervention and is not part of ongoing therapy.

Where deemed necessary or appropriate, follow-up sessions may be suggested by your trauma debriefer.

  •  Re-establish hope
  •  Victims realise that their feelings are normal and temporary
  •  Establish universality
  •  Provides ventilation and catharsis
  •  Group cohesion is healing
  •  Provides information to improve the healing process