What can counselling help with?
Below are some brief introductions to areas that counselling can help you with. I will add to them over time. If you'd like a brief explanation on a particular issue counselling can help with, please get in touch.
Your partner has had an affair and you are affected deeply. It has also shaken the foundation of your relationship. Interestingly, most couples never overtly negotiate fidelity or monogamy in their relationship; assumptions are made and boundaries can often be unclear. Counselling can help you explore how to work your way back from an affair to build a stronger relationship. It takes commitment and work and with the right support, it will teach you a lot about yourself in the process.
If you choose to end the relationship as a result of an affair, a counsellor can support you through the grief process so you don't get "stuck", and assist you both to separate with as much dignity as possible.
Anger that isn't being expressed safely
We all have different models of anger from our families of origin and our life experiences. Some people are comfortable expressing anger; others are not. Some people express it destructively and aggressively, others will use strategies to avoid it at all costs. It's important to understand when we are using anger as a mask to hide something deeper, or alongside other more vulnerable emotions.
In relationships, anger can be very scary - it's important to learn how to express it appropriately and respectfully. Even if we grew up in a family that didn't appear to get particularly angry, we may not have learned how to express our own anger. Counselling can assist you to manage your anger and not let it control your life.
Some theories suggest that unexpressed anger can lead to depression, which indicates that healthy expression of anger is a very important life skill.
Anxiety & Stress
Stress and anxiety, and our responses to it, are as varied as the personalities of all those we know and don't know. Stress is a major component in illness and disease. Learning new strategies for managing stress and anxiety, including bringing self care into your awareness can limit the negative effects you may be experiencing.
You can take a test here to determine your level of anxiety.
Child & baby stress on your relationship
No matter how emotionally ready you may feel for parenthood, the reality is often quite a shock. Fathers can experience symptoms similar to post-natal depression experienced by mothers. At the least, it is a huge life change for him to suddenly share his partner with a little human who is very demanding (as it should be).
Mothers have hormonal changes to contend with, along with sleep deprivation and the constant questions she is asking herself about whether she is 'doing this right'.
Humans were designed to raise families in communities and the isolation of our current ways of living can create huge pressures on parents, especially first time parents. Talking about some of these challenges can normalise them and help parents develop hope that their relationship can survive and they can learn how to co-parent (if there are two parents in the child's life) co-operatively.
There are at least three elements to communication - what we intend to say, how we deliver the message and how it's received. Even what we consider to be a simple message can be misinterpreted with no understanding of how that has come about.
Learning to communicate more effectively is vital to having strong, connected relationships in our lives. Just a couple of counselling sessions can have a huge, positive impact on the way you interact in the world.
Friends and family are biased - they are supposed to be! They love you and want the best for you and have their own opinions on what you 'need' to achieve happiness. Sometimes when a decision needs to be made, you can go around and around in circles trying to get 'advice'. Counselling is not about offering advice - it's about looking at the options from an objective perspective and deciding which decision is going to be the best for you at this time.
As long as the decision doesn't break any laws, counsellors generally won't suggest thinking of a decision as 'right' or 'wrong'. There are decisions and the outcomes that arise from those decisions. If the decision you make doesn't get the results you were after, reviewing it and 'giving yourself a break' is going to be more helpful than berating yourself for being wrong.
Do you think you might be experiencing depression?
The Depression helpline on 0800 111 757 (New Zealand only) is available 8.00am-midnight, 7 days a week. Their website at www.depression.org.nz is a very useful resource. There is a self test that can help you understand what you're going through and if you need external assistance. Take it at this link.
Depression is very common and in many cases, a combination of medication and counselling will prove to be a good treatment option. If you are experiencing a major depressive episode, counselling or therapy could be contra-indicated - please consult your medical professional.
the lowdown: a depression website specially designed for teens, great for approaching the subject with adolescents. Counsellors are available via free Text (5626) or email them in the Chat section. Their website is www.thelowdown.co.nz.
Lifeline: freephone 0800 543 354, www.lifeline.org.nz.
Crisis Assessment and Treatment Teams (CATT): if you or someone you know has reached “crisis point” – then they need urgent help. There are trained professionals, called CATT teams, who provide emergency psychiatric care for people experiencing a mental health crisis. You can ask your GP about access to Crisis Assessment and Treatment Teams. For help in emergencies, contact your local Mental Health Services immediately.
Fact sheets and resources at this link.
Lots of resources at this link too.
A great video to watch
There is a great video here that normalises depression and explains some ideas about living with it/working through it.
Grief & Loss
Grief is a natural response to loss and change. Sometimes we can feel like we're going crazy. We can resist the grief process from fear that we will never come out of it, or we don't want to overload our friends and support network.
A counsellor is trained to support you through the grief process safely. Sometimes it's also a relief to say things in a counselling session that you don't feel comfortable expressing in other situations - knowing you won't be judged by a counsellor.
An objective third party can help in many situations - in personal, work or family relationships. Mediation not about a therapeutic process as such; it's more about facilitating the adults to reach the best solution possible.
Mediation can be helpful for work conflicts, arranging parenting plans for separated parents, negotiating family contact in new relationships, working out household schedules and many more areas where the objective isn't to delve into the past - it's to find solutions in the present.
Negotiation seems to be a skill that isn't necessarily learned from observation. Sometimes it's not until we are nearly tearing our hair out in frustration that we realise that there's something we're 'just not understanding'. This can be the other person's point of view or something about ourselves that isn't yet obvious. Counselling can bring the unsaid out into the open for exploration and acceptance.
Relationship Conflict Management
You may find yourself behaving in such a way when you are in conflict with your partner that you never expected. You may hear someone else's words in your head - like a parent or former partner - when you are just trying to be understood. Destructive behaviours during conflict can tear at the very foundation of your relationship, making you both feel very shaky. Poor conflict is also scary for children and other vulnerable people. Having a good model of conflict that children can witness, is a very powerful skill for them to carry in their belief system.
Suzi can work with you to explore alternative ways of resolving conflict. She will help you understand what the origins of your behaviours are (if you wish), and may encourage you to practice a few simple examples in the room with her, so that you build your confidence in doing it differently.
Sexual Identity or Attraction Questioning
You may be at a stage in your life when you don't feel quite in alignment with your physical body, or what interests you in a sexual way. Counselling can help you clarify who you truly are, how you want to express yourself out in the world, how you want to express yourself sexually, and give you a place to communicate your fears and confusion. Counselling can help you validate the path you choose, and create a space to make sense of what you're questioning about your current reality.
For more information on LQBTQIA+ terms, check out this page.
It can be really hard to be objective about what to say "No" to when you're overwhelmed with multiple deadlines and priorities. If you are a perfectionist or Type A personality, the stress of managing an unrealistic workload is even harder. If there is a bullying dynamic in the mix, you may be ready to blow a fuse - emotionally, physically or both.
Suzi can help you break down what is most important, and what can be let go, delayed or delegated. She will teach you some techniques for self-observation, relaxation and being in the moment so that you are better able to think clearly when the pressure is high.