NOTHING TOO SMALL Counselling is for anyone and everyone struggling with any issue, big or small.
I apologise for using the word crazy. I don’t really like the word for what it implies, but I have chosen to go with it for a reason: I have heard some people say they would never consider counselling for themselves because it’s for ‘crazy people’.
Aside from ‘What would I want counselling for? I’m not crazy’, I’ve also heard ‘My problems are not bad enough for counselling’ (no matter how bad they are), ‘The counsellor will think I’m ridiculous, overreacting or just looking for attention’, ‘I can manage, it’s not that bad’ (no matter how big of a struggle it feels).
Even though this perception has changed somewhat in recent years, some people still hold onto the idea that things have to be very bad before counselling would even be contemplated. And even then, if it is possible to sort it out or scrape by without contacting a counsellor, all the better. If counselling is an option at all for those of this mindset, it is normally as a last resort, when they feel like they can no longer go on if things stay the way they are.
For a different perspective, it can be helpful to think of a burning building. Is it better to prevent the fire starting, put it out while it is still relatively small, put it out when it has spread to only one or two rooms, try to put it out when the building is engulfed in flames, or not get to it at all and let it spread to nearby buildings and cause ongoing damage?
The ideal, of course, is to try to prevent the fire in the first place, but as this is not always possible, the second-best option is to get to it when it is still as small as possible. Then it will be easier to put out and less damage is done.
Now think of the building as a person. The fire is whatever struggle that person is going through. A struggle (or issue, or difficult time or mental illness) is never too small to get help and support with. If it seems small and insignificant, great. Maybe that means that the fire has not spread and it will be easier and quicker to resolve. The person can get back to living their life all the sooner.
Don’t wait for the fire/struggle to be so large or have such a big impact that the journey back to yourself is longer and harder than it could have been. Counselling is not just for crazy people (whatever that means!). It is for anybody and everybody, no matter the size or impact of the problem.
I understand that counselling is not always the solution, but if your reason for ruling it out is a feeling that your problem is not big or serious enough, please reconsider. Being open to getting help and support is a sign of strength and emotional maturity, so be strong enough to push past your reservations and reach out when you need to.
Qualified and accredited counsellors can be found at www.irish-counselling.ie and www.iahip.org.
Jannah Walshe is a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Castlebar and Westport. A fully accredited member of The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, she can be contacted via www.jannahwalshe.ie, or at firstname.lastname@example.org or 085 1372528.