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Counselling - "My mental health was just as important as my caring role" by Ortrud

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Counselling - giving you space to improve your wellbeing.

If you are a carer or have been a carer, you may experience many emotions.  Stress, anxiety, guilt, bereavement, trauma, loss, to name just a few. Counselling can help you work through these emotions. 

Counselling can mean different things to people. It is a process people seek when they want to change their life or explore their thoughts and feelings.  Counselling allows people to discuss their problems and feelings in a safe, confidential environment.

A counsellor does not tell you what to do or give you advice.  They will encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you and identify your specific ways of thinking. 

If you are a carer or have been a carer, you may experience many emotions.  Stress, anxiety, guilt, bereavement, trauma, loss, to name just a few. Counselling can help you work through these emotions. 

Counselling can mean different things to people. It is a process people seek when they want to change their life or explore their thoughts and feelings.  Counselling allows people to discuss their problems and feelings in a safe, confidential environment.

A counsellor does not tell you what to do or give you advice.  They will encourage you to talk about what’s bothering you and identify your specific ways of thinking. 

How can counselling benefit me?

Counselling can be useful for anyone who wants to explore the way they are thinking or feeling. It can also help anyone with a problem or issue they are keen to resolve.

The way counselling can help will depend on you, as an individual. For many, the fact that counselling offers a safe and confidential environment where you can talk is all it takes. Often, we find it difficult to confide in those closest to us, feeling we have nowhere to turn. We can end up hiding feelings deep inside causing us distress and pain. Counselling gives you space and freedom to explore your thoughts. The counsellor will not judge you.

Counselling can help you understand yourself better and the way you think. This will help you develop a clearer understanding of your problems. The more information you have, the easier it becomes to find your way through difficulties. This will help you feel more positive.

Our counsellors believe that we can grow emotionally. However, this growth can become distorted, inhibited or change into something destructive. Exploring your situation or experience with your counsellor can help to rediscover or find your ability to grow.

How do I access counselling?

At the moment we cannot offer face-to-face counselling. Instead, we have counsellors who are using the phone or video link. 

We will continue to offer phone and video link counselling as some people might find this more accessible.

We offer counselling to carers aged 18 or over. 

What should I expect?

In counselling, there is a range of different approaches.  The counselling Carers in Bedfordshire offers is Person-Centred Therapy.  This type of counselling is most in tune with the issues that carers may face.  It allows you the space to explore your emotions.

Deciding to get help and address the issues you are facing is an important first step. You might feel anxious about your first session.

At your first session, your counsellor will ask questions to gain an understanding of what you are struggling with.   We advise that you try to be honest and open when answering these questions to get the most out of your counselling sessions.

It is important that you trust your counsellor so you can feel safe and confident discussing your feelings. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable with your counsellor, speak to your support worker or the counselling coordinator.

Some sessions will feel more helpful than others. Everything your counsellor is doing is designed to help you in the long run, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the beginning.

Counselling is not a quick fix. Your counsellor cannot tell you what to do. The counselling process requires a strong relationship between you and your counsellor and effort on your part.

How many sessions do I need?

Counselling is a journey, and it takes time and consistency to work effectively.  To make full use of the sessions, we recommend that you attend regularly. We offer 8 sessions initially. Your counsellor will review this with you around the 6th session.  If they feel that additional sessions would be advisable the counsellor can offer up to 16 sessions.

Who are the counsellors?

Our counsellors are all volunteers who give up their time to support carers.  Our counselling volunteer team are a mix of fully qualified and student counsellors on placement.  A short initial assessment will take place, to make sure that person-centred counselling is the right therapy for you and to ensure we are matching you with the right person. 

All counsellors are members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and follow their code of ethics.

All volunteer counsellors receive external supervision and/or group supervision from Carers in Bedfordshire.

Is there a long wait?

Generally, no. However, this will depend on your own flexibility. Many of our volunteer counsellors can only offer certain times during the week.  We cannot offer counselling outside of normal working hours.

How much does counselling cost?

We charge £25 per session. If you would like to apply for a Carers Grant to pay for your sessions, please complete this form.  For help to complete the form speak to your support worker or the counselling coordinator. 

Once you have received confirmation of your grant, contact the counselling coordinator to arrange an assessment.

If you wish to pay for your sessions, let the counselling coordinator know. They can then arrange an initial assessment.

What to do next

Contact our counselling co-ordinator on 0300 111 1919 or by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Accessing Counselling via Zoom by Alison

Initially, I saw a counsellor for two face-to-face sessions before lockdown came. I then had to wait to hear what would happen next. They offered me a choice of video counselling via Zoom, or by phone.  

I opted to have my meetings by video using Zoom. At first, I was a little anxious about how different it would be, but I shouldn’t have worried. The counsellor sent me a link to Zoom before my appointment and I just had to click on this link to connect.  

I think it’s important that you can see each other’s faces so you can get an idea of how they’re feeling. In fact, the counsellor mentioned this week that she could see a visible difference in me. I think if I’d had counselling via the telephone it wouldn’t have been as effective.  

I’ve now had 8 Zoom calls and I’m glad I chose this option. I’m also glad I didn’t postpone and wait for lockdown to be lifted as I’m sure I would have been in a worse place if I had.  

For anyone anxious about having counselling this way, I hope my experience will help show that it’s not too daunting. Give it a go. If you don’t feel comfortable, then talk to your counsellor about other options, such as the telephone. I wouldn’t postpone counselling if you need it.   

"I never believed I would need counselling" by Gillian

 I never believed that I would need counselling. Today I’m glad to say I realised I was.  

After years of living away, I had moved back to my childhood home to care for my Dad following a fall. This meant I knew very few people in Bedfordshire.   

I had known about Carers in Bedfordshire for a while but never got round to becoming a member. I thought I was Superwoman able to deal with everything and didn’t need help.  I met Amanda on Dad’s ward in the hospital and went for a cup of tea and a chat.  It still took a while to join. When I did, I didn’t attend meetings or use the services.  

Most of the time, I enjoyed and wanted to be with and care for my Dad. Over time, Dad needed more support and the demands on my time became more.   However, I ended up not meeting my own needs; becoming the martyr. When things got too much, I would turn into a bitch and not be the nice loving daughter anymore.   Something I wasn’t proud of.   

I was limited in the time I spent with my friends. So, I didn’t want that time to be all about me, my frustrations and difficulties. I wanted it to be normal and an escape, So I bottled up my feelings with no outlet for them.    

I decided to try the counselling service not knowing what to expect or if it would help. I am so glad I did.  

Each week, there was someone there who just listened to me and heard my story. They understood the demands of being a carer and what I was going through.  The counsellor listened with compassion and without judgement.  I could say anything and be heard. It was a safe place.  

The sessions became my safety valve; I let off steam and had a good cry.  I could look at things in a more rational way. Then I could work out what I needed to do.  

This helped me stay a loving and supportive daughter.  It helped improve both my mental health and my relationship with my Dad.     

Everyone has times when things become too much. I now realise that reaching out for help is the best thing that you can do.  So, don’t carry on like me being Superwoman or Superman. Instead, ask for help if you need it. It is available. 

"My mental health was just as important as my caring role" by Ortrud

I was born 8 months before the end of the War in an area that became East Germany. I still remember when we fled in March 1949 from the East to West. 

I had two older sisters. The eldest was very unkind to me.  I felt I could not turn to my mother which gave me a sense of loneliness and being unwanted.  I withdrew into myself.  I never learnt to stand up for myself and be confident.  

My second husband has MS. A few years ago he became incontinent, especially at night.  This made my caring role more stressful. He is now wheelchair-bound.  As stress worsens MS, I tried to keep all the difficulties from my past from him, but he sensed that I was unhappy.   

I have always struggled to put my unhappiness to the back of my mind, into a mental wastepaper basket.  If it is too full, things fall out.   

In 2018, they assessed my husband for Telecare and the assessor noticed that I was feeling down.  She suggested I join the local carers organisation for support. My mental health was just as important as my caring role.   

During a carer meeting something triggered my mental wastepaper basket to spill.  I left the room as I did not want to cry in front of the others.  Another carer followed and mentioned that Carers in Bedfordshire provided counselling.   

I thought about it for a long time. Eventually I got in touch with the office.  After they assessed me, I was assigned a counsellor.  My first session started at the end of January this year.   

I was apprehensive before the first session. I did not know what to expect.  I hoped she would help me work through everything and show me how to empty, or at least order, my mental wastepaper basket.  The counsellor was kind and understanding. When the descriptions of my problems were a bit ‘untidy’ she asked questions.  I felt she empathised with me.    

She advised writing down every bad episode in my life.  That way I could lock it away in a filing cabinet.  Afterwards I felt a great relief.  In total I had 8 sessions, the last one was by telephone as lockdown had just started.  

My mental health has improved.  I have learnt a lot. I am still using the techniques especially during lockdown. My sons, their families and I phone or video call, but sometimes I feel sad as I would like to give them all a hug.   

If I hadn’t had counselling, I would be in a very dark place.  I strongly recommend this service to anybody who is struggling to cope.  It really helps you. 

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