Each month we will be interviewing one of The Spark’s team of counsellors based around Scotland. We hope the “Meet the Counsellor” series will offer an insight into the therapeutic services provided by The Spark, what happens in a counselling session and why we are a trusted provider for adults, children and young people.
This week we are speaking to Counsellor Paula Miller.
What do you say to people who are feeling anxious about coming for counselling?
Paula Miller: First off, it is important to remember that it is very common to feel a bit nervous if you have never been for counselling before. It is a completely natural reaction.
It’s hard to know what to expect from counselling and many people don’t like opening up to a stranger initially. I always encourage my clients to be as open as they feel comfortable with, as it’s unlikely they are going to tell me something that I haven’t heard before.
After the first few minutes, people tend to relax and talk openly about what has brought them for counselling.
Some people are sceptical about the effectiveness of counselling. What would you say to them?
Paula Miller: I think it is quite normal to be a bit sceptical of any therapy, particularly if it’s new to you. However, creating the time to talk with a professional is valuable, illuminating, challenging and helpful.
For couples, it can give them the freedom and safety to discuss difficult issues which they haven’t been able to do at home, because it leads to arguments. Couples often will say to one another “I’ve never heard you say that before” and it can lead to a light bulb moment from them. Listening is so important but, in a relationship, where there is already conflict, it can often by in scarce supply.
Individuals also have the opportunity to open up completely in an empathetic, supportive environment where they will be listened to. This can ease the strain for their family and friends who they may have been depending on. Counselling can also be a vital support for people who feel they cannot speak to family or friends, or simply have no one else they can confide in.
Is counselling just for individuals and couples who are in crisis?
Paula Miller: Generally, people come for counselling when they are becoming overwhelmed with some of life’s challenges and feel they need help. We also have clients who have a single issue that they bring to the counselling room and a few sessions are all they need to get them back on track.
Though it is hard to do, I would encourage everyone to come for counselling before things get to the stage of feeling completely overwhelming.
Couples and individuals can wonder how they will know if they need counselling. What do you say to anyone in that position?
Paula Miller: People come to counselling for lots of reasons. Many of my clients feel overwhelmed, frustrated, very emotional and are desperate to talk to someone who will listen.
There is no single issue or set of problems that indicate it is time for counselling.
For example, my clients have come to The Spark for counselling because they are no longer communicating effectively with their partner, they are making poor choices, they have addiction issues, they are struggling to cope with life changes, they have experienced abuse or trauma, they are trying to cope with mental health issues, or trust is an issue in their relationship. But this list is definitely not exhaustive.
Counselling services and support from The Spark
To learn more about The Spark’s team of counsellors, take a look at the Meet our Counsellors section of the website. Alternatively, you can find out more about our counselling services for individuals, couples, married couples, children and young people.
If you are feeling like you need to speak to someone or just need someone to listen to how you are feeling, The Spark’s free helpline is open on 0808 802 2088 during opening hours. A team of experienced Helpline Counsellors are available to listen or talk to you, free of charge.
Counsellor - Couples and Individuals at The Spark Counselling
Paula Miller is a Counsellor Member of Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA) specialising in couples counselling. She works with both couples and individual clients at The Spark. Paula has a particular interest in Attachment Theory and Infidelity.