What is therapy?

If you are reading this then I will assume you have already contemplated the idea of talking to someone about your problems, or going to see a therapist. I understand that this is not always an easy decision to make, and that you may still have many questions or concerns about the process. I hope these are addressed on this page, but if they’re not, please feel free to contact me at any time.

Q. Why should I come to you for counselling? What can you help me with?

A. Official statistics show that 1 out every 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life, and 1 in every 3 marriages ends in divorce.  The World Health Organisation predicts that, by 2020, depression will be the second largest cause of suffering in the world, second only to heart disease. Sadly, though, there is still a certain amount of stigma attached to the idea of going to see a counsellor. Many people see it as a last resort, or feel too embarrassed to try it; fearful of talking to a stranger about their problems, or worried what other people might think if they knew. Others might think of it as something reserved for those with serious mental illness, or think that their problems are insignificant, but that is not the case at all! Seeing a counsellor can be helpful for all of us, for a huge number of reasons, and it offers us the unique opportunity to talk to someone about our most personal thoughts in a completely safe, respectful, and confidential setting, without any fear of judgement or reproach. Perhaps you need some clarity over an important decision or event in your life, or you feel dissatisfied with the way things are – either in your own life or within a relationship – and you want some help with figuring out how to change them. Here are just a few examples of situations where I can offer help:

1. Couples counselling. With all the challenges of the modern world and so many different things demanding our constant attention, it is perhaps no surprise that so many marriages end in divorce. A day doesn’t go by where we don’t hear how the internet and other digital media are impacting our relationships in both positive and negative ways; as we increasingly use technology to not only keep in touch and connect with one another, but also to sext or explore intimate areas of interest that were, in the past, reserved for face-to-face time.. Many of us find ourselves feeling worn thin; being pulled in too many directions, or burning the candle at both ends, as we try to combine a successful career with our personal lives. Sometimes it is hard to find the time for a genuine, loving relationship, and either we or our partners can end up feeling forgotten or neglected as we no longer have the time or energy to dedicate to each other. There may be a temptation to give up, or to look elsewhere, and this often results in infidelity or the end of the relationship, but this needn’t be the case. It is important to remember that relationships are not static, and that there is ongoing negotiation as people shift and change their needs.Using my specialised and empirically-supported EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) training and a grounding in Attachment Theory, I will focus on your emotional bonds and communication skills to help you rebuild and strengthen you relationship. Couples counselling can help to remedy any issue you may be facing, and I can help you and your partner learn how to re-prioritise both your relationship and each other.

2. Family therapy. As a systemic therapist with a professional qualification in Marriage and Family Therapy, I believe that changes in one part of the family system can and do produce changes in other parts of the system, and these changes can contribute to either problems or solutions for any or all of the members. Families play a central and complex role in our lives, and it is important to recognize the impact they can have on us, at different stages of our life. By working with the family as a unit I can help you to improve your communication, organize the family structure, determine accountability if and when appropriate, and enhance your impetus for change; increasing the family’s motivation to recognize and change its patterns of interaction, and freeing the family to make positive changes without blame or distress.

3. Depression. Dysthymia. Ennui. Anomie. Melancholy. The blues. Whatever you want to call it, depression is one of the most common and consistently misdiagnosed diseases in society today, perhaps because of the huge spectrum of symptoms and the vast array of ways it can manifest itself. It might be a simple feeling of sadness or dissatisfaction with your life, or you may notice that your eating and sleeping patterns are changing. If you think you might be depressed, it is important to seek help; whether from a friend or a mental health professional. At its worst, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts or even be fatal. Sometimes depression may have an obvious and distinct cause (such as an argument, losing your job, Postpartum depression, etc.), or it may have no obvious cause at all. Remember that it is not your fault that you are being affected by depression, and that it is a serious illness. There is always help available, either through your GP, or a counsellor, or by calling an organisation like The Samaritans (they can be reached on 08457 90 90 90). You do not have to suffer alone.

4. Anxiety or panic attacks. Anxiety is a natural response to stressful situations, but sometimes it can get out of control and leave us feeling constantly fearful, or cause panic attacks. It may be a specific anxiety (such as a fear of flying, or of spiders, or of a certain situation) or a more generalised form (such as a social phobia, or a fear of open spaces). There are many ways to handle this – ranging from meditation to the Linden Method – and I can help you discover which of these might work best for you, so that you can conquer your anxiety and rediscover your confidence as you get your life back on track.

5. Sex therapy. There is still a huge stigma attached to sex in our society, and many people are ashamed to talk about it at all. I have completed specialised training in sex therapy and I can offer you a completely confidential and non-judgmental environment in which to discuss a range of personal issues, including self-identity, fetishes, performance anxiety, sexual addiction and compulsivity, or traumas from the past.

6. Grief and bereavement counselling. Whether it’s a distant friend or a family pet, death is one of the most difficult issues that we ever have to come to terms with.  It is important to remember that a relationship does not die when a loved one dies; it just changes. I can help you adapt to these changes, and find the best way to handle your feelings of loss and continue with your life, whilst also honouring your mourning process.

7. Medical reasons and palliative care. Stories like this one serve as a reminder of how important counselling can be as part of the process towards recovery and rehabilitation after a medical procedure. There is truth to the old saying that “the body feeds the mind”: good physical health often goes hand in hand with good mental health, and as such should be treated with equal importance.

8. Dispute or conflict mediation. Whether it is a disagreement with a neighbour or the attempt to reach a divorce settlement, disputes are unfortunately unavoidable from time to time. We all have many relationships in our lives, and from time to time we all need help with some of them. Whatever your dilemma, I can serve as an effective third party mediator, offering an unbiased, impartial perspective on things, and helping to facilitate respectful dialogue in a safe and reassuring setting.

9. Premarital counselling. This is often sadly overlooked, and many marital conflicts might be avoided if more couples attended premarital counselling. Not only can I help to strengthen your bonds and bring you closer together, but I can also empower you to explore issues that may otherwise have gone unnoticed, and to plan ahead for them. It is often the mundane, daily things that cause the problems in a relationship – such as the sharing of household chores, food choices, spending habits, or even snoring – and premarital counselling can ensure that you and your partner are aware of all these issues, and prepared to deal with them together.

10. Addiction or substance abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with any kind of compulsive behaviour, ranging from gambling to drug abuse, then counselling may be the first step on the road to recovery. Using specific techniques and trainings, I can help you to identify the reasons for your addiction and then help you to break the cycle, regain control over your life, and maintain your recovery.

11. Anger management. If you find yourself feeling angry a lot of the time, or even lashing out at people you care about, then you may benefit from some anger management counselling. I believe that anger is generally a secondary, not a primary emotion (that is, it is triggered in response to another emotion that came first; usually fear, shame, dejection, or hurt) and I will work with you to uncover the underlying causes for your anger and then heal them.

12. Mood disorders, behavioral disorders, or pathologies. If you feel very out of sorts, confused, and disconnected from the rest of the world then it may be possible that you are suffering from a serious medical condition, such as autism, ADHD, Bipolar disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder or Schizophrenia. I would probably not be the best person to help you deal with these serious conditions in the long term, but I can help you find the correct diagnosis and refer you on to the best possible care.

Q. How do I know you’re the right therapist for me?

A. You don’t! And I may not be. But please give me a try and see if I seem like a good fit as a counsellor for you. It is very important to me that you are at ease talking to me about your personal issues, and that there is never a sense of discomfort or hesitation in the room. I will always do my best to ensure that you are supported and understood, and to remind you that you are in a completely safe and confidential setting. I absolutely cannot overestimate the importance of feeling comfortable with your counsellor: if you don’t, then you will never be able to establish the trust and rapport necessary to truly do good, powerful work, and to instigate the changes you want in your life. Remember, YOU are the client, and you have the right to decide you want for your money, as a consumer. If you are not happy with my services (or those of any other counsellor) you should always feel free to discuss your grievances, or to look elsewhere. I will never tell you what to do, and you are always free to end our sessions together; there is never any obligation to continue or to discuss anything against your will. However, I am confident of my ability to help you make the changes you want in your life, and to be the right counsellor for you. As one of very few counsellors in the UK with EFT and Attachment-Focused theory training, I am in a prime position to be able to work with you and resolve the issues that are troubling you.

Q. What will happen if I do come to you for counselling? How does it work?

A. If you contact me to arrange counselling, I will first schedule an Introductory Assessment Session. During this initial session I will ask you to fill out a short Intake Form, with just a few questions about your general state of mind and reasons for seeking therapy. This will be a chance for us to get to know each other, and for me to start to understand the issues that are currently bothering you. If you wish to proceed after this first session, we will arrange further appointments and discuss the best way forward. I do not believe in prolonging therapy just for the sake of it, and I always work to provide immediate relief and keep costs to a minimum. I believe that helping my clients to resolve their issues quickly and thoroughly is the best and fairest way to do counselling.

Q. How much do you charge?

A. My in-person session rates vary depending on location, and whether you will be attending as an individual, couple, family, or group. I also offer workshops and corporate services and would be happy to provide quotes for these as required.

Q. How can I contact you?

A. Please email me at stefan@stefanwalters.com or call me on (+44)07526 456 477.

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