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“The most wonderful thing about my counselling experience was how open I felt I could be in the sessions.

"I’ve always considered myself quite a private person and so going to talk to someone about my problems felt unnatural at first. It isn’t like talking to someone you know… it isn’t really like a regular conversation because the focus is completely on you.

"It feels strange at first but once I got my head around the issue of confidentiality, it became clear I could be really honest about myself and my life without fear of offending or hurting anybody. The time in the sessions was just for me to explore issues in my life… the more open and honest I was about what was going on, the better I felt.

“It was like a trickle at first, just a few moments of real honesty here and there. I realised that it felt good to try and articulate the things that were troubling me and, most importantly, it felt safe to share them in confidence with my counsellor.

"The next session, the trickle became a stream and I found myself opening up more in the session. For the rest of the week, I felt more free than I had done for years. It was as though having the opportunity to speak had liberated a part of me I had kept bottled up for too long. The floodgates really opened in the next session and I was taken aback by how transparently open I was. I don’t think I’d ever shown myself so honestly to anyone before. It felt a bit scary but also empowering.

“I had finally given myself permission to be the real me when engaging with someone else. The me that I keep hidden away deep inside because I’m terrified that the other person won’t like who I really am. I stopped trying to be the person I believed others wanted to see and started being more open.

"It’s been a challenge, but I am finally starting to be this open with other people in my life. I started with my family and then my friends. It isn’t about just blurting out what you are thinking, but it is about being honest with them about how you are feeling.

"Before counselling, if someone was doing something that upset me, I would internalise my feelings and wind up feeling tense and frustrated with them. Now I make an effort to explain to them how I am feeling. Most of the time, people have been very understanding and appreciative of how honest I am being. When I realised that they weren’t horrified by my behaviour or rejecting me, I felt safer in trying out being my true self in other relationships. I no longer feel like I’m ‘faking it’ at work or when I’m out and about… it feels safe to be the real me.”

 

Taigh Sàmhchair: professional counselling and psychotherapy

Hereward Proops MBACP, registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

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