London is ready for counselling and psychotherapy

Thinking about having therapy in London? Now is a good time.

The evidence suggests that Londoners are more open to therapy than ever before

Time To Talk to a counsellorIt seems as though there has never been a better time to talk about the state of our psychological wellbeing. There has been something amiss when a liberal city such as London – which has long been a cultural stomping ground for progression and free speech – is only very recently shrugging off the stigmas attached to emotional health and psychological issues.

Symptoms of psychological distress are extremely common, affecting at least 1 in 5 of us throughout the course of our lives. They cover a diverse number of concerns; from relationship problems, eating disorders, gender identity and sexuality issues, depression and anxiety. Our psychological happiness is just as important as our physical health yet it is often neglected, both by the current government (mental health charity MIND reported that funding for NHS trusts to provide mental health services has fallen by more than 8% in real terms since 2010) and also by inherited societal prejudices.

Stigma around therapy is a thing of the past

Therapy and counselling in the UK can seem taboo in itself, feeling sometimes like an admission of failure rather than an active acceptance that things could be better. Now, with our ability to access and reach people through social media and online commentary, we have the opportunity to address the somewhat silent yet widespread struggle with psychological issues.

There are a number of ways we have alluded to mental health issues in the past. People may talk of having the ‘black dog’ or ‘the blues.’ The Edwardian term for anxiety would be ‘suffering with ones nerves.’ Unhelpful, simplistic terms such as ‘barmy’ or ‘mad’ often serve to sentence a sufferer rather than inquire as to the source of behavioural issues.

The French side of my family have often remarked on how, when a British person is asked how they are, will usually respond “fine” even, and perhaps especially, when it’s not the case. This could be part of the ‘make do and mend’ society, a necessary stiff upper lip we have inherited in which to try and bear poverty, extreme trauma and loss. The side effect of this attitude however is not helpful for people who are dealing with psychological problems and feel they have nobody to talk to for everyone is entitled to help and there is a strong support network in place. When life, for whatever reason, is getting you down, you can’t deny the importance of talking to someone trusted and sympathetic to your plight.

Therapy can be about anything – there are no limits!

Artists drawing of a Counselling SessionAlienation. Despair. Grief. Shame. Rejection. Dependency. Behavioural problems. Sexual problems. Emotional trauma. Profound issues about identity. These are all human emotions and circumstances that therapy can help with. There have been a number of recent tragic examples reported in the press that seem to highlight the severity of untreated psychological issues and their effect on society. The body of 25 year old Rose Polge, a recently qualified junior doctor, was found on a Devon beach in April, a suicide note found in her car purportedly describing the extreme pressures of work. In March 2015, Belgian pilot, Andreas Lubitz, committed a senseless and harrowing act of both suicide and homicide, the black box recording from Germanwings Flight 4U9525 and his recent searches online of suicide manifesting a desperately deliberate choice.

In his recent and brilliant book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson interviewed east coast psychiatrist James Gilligan on his successful therapeutic work with violent prisoners in Massachusetts, helping restore their sense of self-esteem, the lack of which being a primary component in their destructive attitudes. Back in 2012, LGBT charity Stonewall warned that more than one in five gay and bisexual men suffered “moderate to severe levels of depression”, feelings of isolation, particularly in London, being a large factor. Alan Turing, one of the greatest minds that Britain has had, the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence, most likely committed suicide with cyanide after enduring compulsory hormonal treatment for his ‘grossly indecent’ homosexual activity.

Sometimes it is not what is wrong with you, rather what has happened to you that can be the trigger for psychological issues. There have been countless articles recently about the rising use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs amongst Generation Y, devoid of hope, saddled with debt and unable to yield much control over their stark financial future, many young Londoners are feeling overwhelmed with worry and loneliness. There is ample research suggesting a link between low income and heightened risk of mental distress and, as MIND points out on its website, when ‘symptoms such as persistent negative thoughts aren’t addressed and become severe, they can have a serious impact on daily life. Problems sleeping, lowered immune system and depression can all develop as a knock-on effect and can get to the point that it becomes difficult to hold down a job, maintain relationships or take pleasure in life.’

London celebrities have brought psychological well-being into the limelight

Counselling BubbleNow it seems as though we have a wave of British ambassadors, people in the public eye who are active on social media, who are able to discuss openly the problems they have dealt with and with whom sufferers can relate to.

Stephen Fry has been an outspoken advocate and ambassador for MIND for a number of years. Charlotte Rampling, during press interviews for her celebrated return to acting, took the opportunity to discuss her positive experiences of counselling for depression.

Actor and singer Olly Alexander from pop band Years and Years recently gave an interview to The Guardian about his battle with depression and anxiety and his steps to overcome it with the help of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). He was promptly inundated with messages from fans who related to his experiences with their own battle against similar emotional issues but he stressed the message that “The first thing you start to think is you’re alone and you’re crazy. There is a support network out there … make use of it.”

When I was younger, it always seemed in American movies that everyone was in therapy. I would find myself rolling my eyes at what I saw as an indulgent exercise in narcissism. Now, having come out from a long spell of depression and realising the effect of my anxiety, not just on myself but on the people I love around me, I see how important it is to accept that I have patterns of behaviour that prevent me from living my life to its full potential and I needed to break the chain of negative thinking that was controlling how I lived my life.

All types of Londoners turn to counselling for support

Profile of young man in therapyThere are myriad reasons as to why people may seek out therapy or counselling to help understand and improve their quality of living. And all kinds of people, from many different backgrounds, turn to counselling in London. What is clear is that all of us need somebody to talk to and occasionally there comes a time when we can’t reach out to those we thought we might; a friend, a sibling, a partner. Sometimes when intimacy and emotional investment are intertwined, it can be too upsetting for both parties and potentially counter-productive.

A therapist or counsellor can offer that non-judgemental and invaluable support. Therapy should be seen as positive step out of a self-fulfilling prophecy, an opportunity to address issues before they become more serious issues. All therapy and counselling in this respect is bespoke.

The stigma around therapy is a thing of the past. More people in London than ever are discovering the benefit of adding a therapist to their lives.

Counselling is an acceptable and healthy way of finding support for aspects of your psychological wellbeing that you wish to gain support for. Struggling with issues that affect the mind can be lonely and bleak. With therapy and counselling, it doesn’t have to be.

Follow this link to find out more about counselling in London. We provide a range of therapy, including anger management counselling, anxiety therapy, bereavement and grief counselling, confidence counselling, LGBT counselling and sex therapy

Please share this with someone you know or add your comments below.