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“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I had no idea that it would be so difficult. Not just being open and talking about the negative stuff, but finding the words to express how I feel. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to put it into words. I thought the counsellor would tell me what to do to sort things out but it doesn’t work like that. There were times when it felt so difficult I came close to quitting, but I’ve found the strength to keep going back week after week. It’s getting easier… I guess I’m getting stronger. "

Change is never easy. Think of all the times in your life when there has been a significant change. Moving from primary to secondary school. Moving house. Changing jobs. Even changes in our day-to-day routine can be difficult and throw up many unexpected problems.

Change is hard but it can be all the more difficult when we are seeking to change an aspect of ourselves. It takes a great deal of effort and emotional intelligence to be able to identify something within us that needs to change. After all, it is painful enough when someone else points out our faults - it takes a certain degree of inner strength to be able to critically look at ourselves in this way.
Once we have identified the part of ourselves that we want to change, we are then faced with the challenge of seeing it through. Most people who have quit smoking are unlikely to have succeeded on their first attempt. I recall a friend of mine who joked about how good he was at quitting as he had done it so many times.
Successful, long-lasting change can only come about through willpower. The old saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” is very true. People might be able to identify the part of themselves that they want to change, but actually having the willpower - the dedication and reserves of inner-strength - needed to make that change a reality can be far more difficult.
Going to see a counsellor can be a bit like this. It takes enormous courage to seek out the support of a therapist in the first place. It can take time to build up a trusting relationship where you feel comfortable openly sharing your difficulties with the therapist. Over a number of sessions, you will have the opportunity to explore these difficulties and, with time, solutions to the problems might well present themselves. However, a good therapist won’t make you change. Real, long-lasting change only comes about from an individual making the choice themselves. A therapist might be able to help you find the door, but the decision to walk through it is entirely yours.


Taigh Sàmhchair: professional counselling and psychotherapy
Hereward Proops MBACP, registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
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