When I first came to therapy, I had two avenues to go down in terms of counselling - the first, through the NHS, and the second through my workplace.
Visiting my GP for other health matters, I discussed how I was having low moods all the time, couldn’t muster excitement for anything and felt ridiculously empty. My light was really dim, and at twenty two - or indeed at any age - this shouldn’t have been the case.
They referred me to the ‘healthy minds’ clinic [http://www.wolverhamptonhealthyminds.nhs.uk/], but this is region dependent and every city will offer different services for mental health resources. In contacting them, they did an initial assessment over the phone and then provided a time that a counsellor would contact me to discuss my feelings further - unfortunately the time slots are really inflexible, which is difficult when you work full time.
My workplace also offered a scheme through health assured [https://www.healthassured.org/], which works in very much the same vein, except probably being as they’re private, they offer an extended amount of hours that they can provide. I called them late at night when I was having a particularly bad episode, and an assessment was carried out straight away, with a counsellor offering support through the phone.
The next day, we arranged talking therapy and CBT through a face-to-face therapist that they had both set up and funded. Health Assured arranged this based on where was convenient for me to get to, and at appropriate times, considering the long work days I had.
The limitations with this is that it works on a basis of ‘goal oriented’ therapy- as in, you are offered just five sessions in order to discuss the issues at hand, and then find a resolution. At the end of my fifth session it became clear that, although I had done a lot of good work, there was still a lot at hand that I needed to address.
I decided that I would fund my own sessions- expensive, at £50 an hour, twice a month- but I decided that this was how I wanted to invest in my happiness- as I had been so desperately unhappy for so long. I’m completely aware of how privileged I am to have been able to afford this in the first place, and that a lot of people don’t have the same access to this. It’s just something that I needed to do.
Both avenues offer CBT therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that is, which puts the onus on skills and techniques you can develop to manage any anxiety and distress that you might be feeling. For me, this is what I felt was necessary in managing my funk- addressing my own behaviours and perspectives to bring me peace. This is not a one size fits all measure, therapy is entirely subjective, personal and needs to be tailored to the individual and their requirements.
If I could offer one bit of advice to someone thinking about therapy but doesn’t know where in the hell to start looking because really, well, it’s all a bit overwhelming at the exact time you don’t want to deal with anything taxing- take advantage of the all options available. I put off pursuing therapy for ages thinking it would be too hard and expensive to organise myself- but there are resources out there, if for a little bit of investigation. Don’t settle! I struck lucky with my angel of a counsellor Evette, but if the person you’re about to share your life story with doesn’t strike you as your sort of person, you have absolutely every right to look to someone new. Keep fighting!