Sometimes, therapy is the only place where you can say the unsayable. Many people find themselves struggling with their sexuality, religious conformity, shame, guilt, a trauma, or the stigma of being identified with a mental illness. When you feel restricted to speak your mind freely, this can result in long-term problems, which can either lead to mental health issues or can exacerbate existing conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
In this article, we look at a few real-life scenarios where people have used their therapy sessions as a safe haven to explore and discuss their inner-most thoughts and fears. To preserve their identity, we have anonymised all examples used in this blog.
Religious constraints and conflict
Where someone has been brought up in a strict religious environment, there is likely to be an expectation for that person to conform and practice a certain faith. However, if you are someone who does not believe in the same religion as, for example, your parents, how do you express your beliefs without receiving condemnation?
H is a young 18-year-old woman who was brought up in a strict Muslim household. However, H has contemplated her faith and has concluded that she does not believe in religion, deciding that she is an atheist. H does not feel able to talk about this openly, but she was able to express her feelings freely during our therapy and counselling sessions. Together, we are working towards a less conflictive approach, so H can maintain her relationships with family and friends and move forward with her life.
It is very common for people who self-harm to do this in secret. Such behaviour can be a result of a trauma or past experience and can often continue for a very long time before people decide they are ready to resolve their issues. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not know how to act when they discover someone has been self-harming and can often give the wrong advice or support.
K is a professional in her late 20s, who has been self-harming since she as at secondary school. K had never spoken to anyone about her issues before she came to see us. Sadly, the only response she received from her parents when her school informed them about her self-harming was in K’s words, ‘to simply pretend I wasn’t doing it.’ This is neither a helpful or practical way of dealing with this issue. At a time when K needed help and support, the poor response she received resulted in her continuing to self-harm well into adulthood. We provided K with a safe space for her to talk through her issues. This also gave her the opportunity to look at the possible reasons why she felt the need to self-harm, so we could help her overcome her problems.
Dealing with depression
Remarkably, despite a range of publicised campaigns to remove past stigmas associated with mental illness, many people still lack a sympathetic attitude towards such conditions.
G is a female student in her late teens with very traditional, white working-class parents who saw mental health as a weakness. When G was diagnosed with depression by her GP, her parents stopped talking to her, which resulted in G having to experience huge levels of stigma as well as trying to come to terms with her condition. Through our therapy and counselling sessions, G was able to express herself free from any judgement. By allowing G to discuss how she truly felt in a confidential setting, she can now start the healing process and learn how to manage her depression.
Coping with sexual identity
Although over the past few decades there has been a general shift in attitude towards sexual identity, there are still many people who refuse to accept any status other than heterosexuality. When young people discover they are gay, bisexual, or transgender, they can feel ostracised from their family and friends. This can have a devastating, long-term effect on the young person leading to lifelong mental health problems.
“My mum didn’t talk to me for 6 months when I told her I was gay. She used to pass me in our house, the house I had lived in for 17 years, and would not even make eye contact. She would cook me meals and wash my clothes, but she wouldn’t talk to me.” J – college student
During our therapy and counselling sessions, J was able to talk openly about her sexuality and the stigma she was facing from her parents. We provided J with the support and reassurance she needed to help build her confidence and move forward.
Safe, confidential space
To conclude – whether you feel restricted in some way to speak freely or you are worried about others’ perceptions, therapy sessions can act as your safe haven. At Conversations With Impact, we provide a non-judgemental, confidential ‘listening ear’ for you to confide your inner-most thoughts and fears. Our approach to counselling and therapy uses a tailored blend of different techniques to help your overcome your problems, so you can move towards a more positive future.
If you need a safe, confidential space to say the unsayable, then please get in touch. Our sessions allow you to have those difficult conversations free from any judgement or fear.