I’m a psychotherapist and I know how scary it can be to seek therapy – I’ve had it too
There’s no need to be scared – therapy isn’t as intimidating as you think (Picture: Getty/Metro)

Anything that can help encourage people to talk about their mental health is fantastic news, so it was great to see Prince Harry talk about receiving counselling to help him cope with bereavement.

As a practising counsellor/psychotherapist I know that most of us have issues that affect our everyday lives and happiness.

i10 things nobody tells you about therapy 

While it may be common for people to consider having counselling or psychotherapy at some point in their lives, they may be put off by fears about how this may be seen by others.

People may also be overwhelmed by all the different types of approaches to psychotherapy and counselling that are out there, and that there can be confusion around the distinctions between psychiatry, counselling and psychotherapy.

When I enrolled on a masters course at university to study counselling/.psychotherapy, little did I know that I too would have to engage with a psychotherapist for personal therapy over the first two years – this was a fundamental course requirement with a minimum of hours stipulated.

This was not what I had expected, and I felt that I did not need counselling, I was fine, I was not ill. I was supposed to be the person GIVING the counselling!

How strange now to think that was how I considered this back then.

Finding a counsellorpsychotherapist was a mystery to me, even though I was training to be one myself. Where to look, who to go to?

I did not know then that I could look at the official directories of the main governing bodies, or that there was a main directory website.

Nor did I know then that it was easy to be referred to a counsellor through my GP, or that I could self-refer through Mind or other local counselling agencies.

I looked up counsellors and psychotherapists on Google. Who was I going to choose, how would I know who would be right for me, how much would it cost, what would it be like? These were all things that went through my mind.

What would the sessions be like, would I be lying on a couch with a stern looking psychotherapist looking at me with a clipboard not saying anything, expecting me to talk about my dreams?

I didn’t know, and the thought of it all brought a fair bit of anxiety to me.

After a number of emails and telephone calls, I finally found a therapist that felt right for me. I turned up feeling nervous and rang the bell.

I was invited in, sat down, and we discussed things like what to expect in a session, how much each session cost, the way they worked.

It all seemed so normal, not quite like a chat over a cup of tea and biscuits, but open and friendly nonetheless.

I’m a psychotherapist and I know how scary it can be to seek therapy – I’ve had it too
Close enough (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

I became aware that the choices as to who I wanted to work with, and for what period, were mine, and that I could opt out at any time.

Those are choices that you have should you wish to see a counsellor or psychotherapist – having trust in the therapist is a key ingredient in achieving a successful therapeutic relationship.

Now I am a practising counsellor/psychotherapist working with people of all ages and from all types of backgrounds.

No matter what people’s experience in life may be, there is a common theme around coming to counselling or psychotherapy for the first time:

‘I don’t need counselling, there is nothing wrong with my head.’

‘I can’t admit to my colleagues that I am seeking a psychotherapist, they would think I was mad.’

‘I don’t want people to know that I am seeing a psychotherapist – they will think that I can’t cope and see me as a failure.’

With each of the separate clients who said the above, fantastic work was done and they very quickly realised that seeing a psychotherapist or counsellor was a normal and helpful thing to do.

Their way of looking at things changed, and they were able to make better and more informed choices.

People should not only see a counsellor or psychotherapist when stressed or when things become too difficult. Seeing someone early on can help to prevent a problem becoming a crisis.

We should remember that positive elements in life can be stressful too – getting married, starting a new job, moving to a new country, embarking on a new relationship.

Psychotherapists and counsellors are normal people who are there to help to untangle issues in our lives.

My personal experience of psychotherapy helped me to understand how important it is for new clients to feel at ease in the therapy room.

It was also immensely helpful on a personal level as I found myself discussing my own issues. Being aware of these not only helps me in my personal life, but assists in my being completely present for my clients.

Juliusz Wodzianski is a registered counsellor and psychotherapist based at Bridge to Health in Uxbridge and in Finchley, North London (and online) with Talk Therapy.