When George* finally decided to make an appointment to see his school counsellor it was because he had witnessed the positive impact she’d had on his friends’ lives.
She was a familiar face around his school, and he knew she was someone he could trust, talk to and build a relationship with.
Her professional expertise was something the 17-year-old needed, when he felt his problems could no longer be solved just with the support of his friends.
“It got to the point where my issues went to the darkest place they’ve ever been,” he said.
My own strength
“That was just a really hard time. I managed to get out of it through my own strength and friends. But then I felt myself slipping again.
“I’d had so much extra stuff happen in my life, that if I went down again, I would need more than a couple of friends to get me back out again.
“So I thought before anything happens, I’m just going to take the leap first and see the counsellor. I’m glad I made that decision.
“It’s just amazing to have someone like that in the school.”
George was initially nervous that other students would find out he was going to see the counsellor.
“I thought it would spread around that ‘he’s going to see the counsellor’.
“People don’t want to get labelled by their friends. Word can spread very quickly about somebody. It’s what stopped me going at first, I resent being labelled.
“That kind of barrier that ‘he’s going to see the counsellor’, that label, needs to be broken down.
Everyone knows how kind she is
“Actually at my school everybody knows who the school counsellor is. You don’t get knocked for going. Everyone knows how kind she is. She’s really caring.”
One of the reasons George decided to get in touch was that he had seen how the counsellor had helped some of his friends.
“They’re just completely different people,” he said.
“They went from being somebody who was very self-conscious, didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to be near anyone, didn’t want to go out of the house, to opening up, talking about positivity, how it’s affected them. Their moods switched completely.”
And for George, it made a difference that the counsellor was based in his school and a familiar figure.
“It’s really accessible. It’s just great having somebody in the school, rather than having to travel out of your way to see someone.
Somebody you can trust
“You’re already used to the environment. You get a sense of familiarity around it. It’s homely. You know it’s somebody you can trust because you’ve been to that place before.
“If you’re going elsewhere for counselling it would probably take longer to build that relationship up. Even if you haven’t been to a school counsellor before, it makes it much easier to start talking to them because you’ve been at the school with them so long.”
It was an informal chat with the counsellor about another school matter that persuaded George that he wanted to talk further to her about his own situation.
“It was just that first step. She wasn’t even pressuring me to open up either.
“The conversation was so fluid. It felt natural to talk to her.”
That evening he sent the counsellor an email. He received a response the next day.
“Everyone was always saying she was so busy, so when I got a response so quickly I was like ‘wow, ok’.
“Even though she is so busy, she’s looking out for everybody, all the time,” he added.
World of opportunities
“If you’re going to see the counsellor you then open up another world of opportunities. Once you get into that world, you might become more confidence at sorting your issues out.
“Without the counsellor, you get lost. You don’t know where else to go, you get stuck in a loop. You get worse and worse and worse. There’s no end goal. You feel very limited.
“I’m hoping by going to see the counsellor I’ll get a sense of what’s good for me, and then what’s not really good for me. I think it’s going to be interesting.”
To find a BACP counsellor or psychotherapist via BACP’s Therapist Directory.
*Names have been changed.
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