letter from M

Dear Suzie, please help me, I saw the programme on stepfamilies a few weeks back and it has really upset me. I’ve had difficulties emotionally and have been for counselling and have sought even more help and it is not going anywhere. I want to sort my life out and don’t know where else to turn, I’ve been to my doctors, the hospital, mind and private counsellors but now I feel desperate. Since I’ve seen the programme your techniques have been playing on my mind. I need someone that would actually point me in a direction I can put effort in, guide me and be brutal where needed, but I keep getting past from pillar to post. My experience of counselling so far is not a proactive one; its been a case of I talk, they listen and its down to me to draw conclusions. They may say things to get me to think but that’s it, they don’t actually make any suggestions of anything I can do, or help me work through things. I have since found out that it would be more advisable for me to seek psychotherapy rather than counselling and have been on a waiting list for nearly a year.

You do seem to be having a rough time and you have my sympathy and support. I’m glad that the programme gave you some hope, and some glimpse of how counselling certainly can work.

I have to say that the best sort of support is the guidance to enable you to make your own choices and decisions; I might have been made to look more directive than I actually am by the producers of the films you saw. I was entirely responsible for the counselling with each family but I had little say over what went into the films. The producers may have felt picking out the bits in which I appear to ‘tell’ works better for the overall film than showing the far more common times when I was listening and offering options and asking the families to make their own way.

It does sound to me as if you need to take some control – it feels as if a great part of your anxiety comes from feeling overwhelmed and powerless over your life. A counsellor may have been able to help if you’d found the right one but counselling is often a matter of not only finding an experienced and skilled practitioner, but of there being a connection between you. Sometimes it doesn’t work with one, and can work with another. But it also needs you to buckle down and ‘take the pain’ – accept that this isn’t going to be easy, will hurt and take effort on your part.

You say you get passed from pillar to post but it also sounds as if you find it hard to settle down to it. Maybe you don’t feel you deserve to be helped, maybe you don’t want to face up to what is at the heart of your problems. You have my sympathy for all of that; but if you want me to be brutal and to guide you, then I have to say; come on, girl; stop faffing about. You can do it!

You say you’re on a waiting list for psychotherapy. Chase that up – how long do you have to wait? If you would like to pursue a referral yourself, look at http://www.bacp.co.uk for helpful information and ways of finding a therapist yourself.

Stop giving up – you’re worth it! Best of luck!

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