Alda Counselling

Therapy Does Help


5 tips for choosing the right counsellor

I heard somewhere that finding the right counsellor is as hard as finding the right life partner. That may be slightly exaggerated, but it is true that there is more to finding a counsellor than one might think. Here are 5 tips to choose the right counsellor for you:

  • Check your motivation for seeking counselling: What is bringing you to counselling at this moment? Are you looking to solve a specific issue or are you trying to change deep seated patterns that are causing your distress? If you are looking to look at a concrete issue, e. g. whether you need to leave your relationship, a counsellor, a psychologist and a psychotherapist will be able to help you. But if you are looking at changing your life patterns, you will need to commit to long-term psychotherapy with a qualified psychotherapist.
  • Search the online register of counsellors: Do a Google search, or visit the Counselling Directory or the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) or UKCP directory to find a qualified counsellor in Devon.

  • Check the counsellors’ qualifications: Once you find a counsellor in Devon whose website or profile you like, check their qualifications. There may be a counsellor or psychotherapist specialising in the issue that brings you to counselling, e. g. sexual abuse.
  • Book your first session: Many counsellors will see you for free or for a reduced fee on your first session. This will help you both ascertain whether you will work well together.
  • Trust your gut instinct: If you don’t feel at ease with the counsellor in your first session or sessions, please leave. There are many counsellors and not all of us work in a similar way. Try a different person. If you do feel at ease with your counsellor, but you still wish to leave, discuss it with your counsellor. Leaving people or situations may be an issue that is stopping you from living fully. This can be an opportunity for you to work through this pattern.

Ultimately, choosing the right counsellor will depend on your resources and what is available in your area. However, counselling can be life-changing, and it is well worth doing a bit of research before investing your time and your money in a counsellor. When you find the right counsellor for you, your life will take a turn into the right direction. Choosing a counsellor is very personal. The right counsellor for you may not be for another person and vice versa, so take your time, and trust your ability to choose the right counsellor in Devon.


Mental Illness or Human Suffering?

In recent years, we are becoming more acceptant of labels belonging to the medical professions in our everyday life. For example, mental illness, bipolar, depression. Some of these terms are increasingly used to identify human states of mind and mood that might have been considered in the past as a normal part of human suffering. So how do we know when we are mentally ill or just suffering as humans?

Human suffering is usually a temporary condition, whereas mental illness can be more permanent. If someone close to you dies, it is normal to feel sad. But if you continue feeling sad years after it happened, you may be struggling with something more serious, like a depression. However, there is a very fine line between these two concepts because if you believe that you are mentally ill, or depressed, then you will be. Society might influence your own judgement and your doctor’s or counsellor’s judgement regarding whether you are effectively ill or just suffering as a human being.

As Summerfield states in Cross cultural perspectives on the medicalisation of human suffering, “the attitudes of wider society (which may change over time) shape what individual victims feel has been done to them and the vocabulary they use to describe this, whether or how they seek help, and their expectations of recovery.” If the wider society believes that a traumatised person must be carrying a heavy load that will impact negatively on their future life, that person will be prone to carry such a load and feel that negative impact. That would prevent them from seeing the other side of trauma, which normally brings growth and a deeper appreciation of life.

Many of the people that I work with are suffering due to the heavy load of living in an individualistic society that tends to label them and does not leave room for their human suffering and recovery. In some cultures, there are no words for depression. A person is part of a group, and the group will help and accept what is happening to the person. This person does not feel stigmatised and isolated, and eventually moves on. There is no stigma as suffering is considered a human characteristic dealt with in a community of human beings. In our society, there seems to be an expectation to be independent and happy. In such a society, is there a place for human suffering? Are we able to ask for help to family and friends? Are we too quick to label human suffering as mental illness, as something that needs fixing?

I wonder whether we need more communities to accompany each other in this journey that is our life and especially when we experience human suffering. I wonder whether we can accompany another person and let another person accompany us when our life seems like a challenge. In my opinion, counselling is a journey in which one person feels accompanied by a professional who is able to accept and understand human suffering. This acceptance and understanding makes the “sufferer” accept and understand his or her predicament and transform his or her life. Counselling is also a tool to help the “sufferer” learn how to find resources within themselves and in their communities so that when further suffering occurs, they would know how to cope with it.

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Counselling teaches you how to connect authentically

This post was born after watching Hedy Scheifer’s lecture in TED. Hedy tells us about a time when she felt a real connection to her mother, an Alzheimer’s sufferer. She speaks about how we can contaminate the space between each other and those we relate to. The space between you and a person you are in a relationship with, being your mother, your partner or your child is a sacred space. She explains how to improve the connection in your relationships, how to achieve a real encounter with another.


In counselling, we aim at creating a sacred space in which you can be yourself, whoever that is. Counselling is an encounter between two people who aim at being more authentic, more alive, learning about themselves and about the space they both inhabit. A counselling room is like a playground where you can explore who you are with no judgements. It is a playground where you can connect with another in a truthful way, learning about authenticity and real connection between human essence to human essence.

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Differences between anger and rage


Anger, and related emotions, seem to be banned by our society. It appears that it is not good to be angry, to get angry, to be seen angry. However, we all get angry. It is a human emotion. All human emotions are useful, so anger must be useful too. Rage is also useful. They are both telling us a story, but they both tell a different story.

angerAnger and rage are teaching us about ourselves. They are trying to transmit a message that we need to hear to grow into more mature and whole human beings. Anger is teaching us about self-care. Rage is teaching us that our past needs healing.

Anger is a pure emotion. It comes to existence to protect our boundaries. Anger appears in the here-and-now and lasts for a few minutes. When self-care is threatened by a situation, anger will appear. It can be an aggressive anger or a passive anger. It can be directed to the person or the situation causing the anger or to innocent third parties. Learning how to say no, to assert your needs and to respect your boundaries is essential for your health and maturity. Anger can help you recognise when your boundaries are being trespassed.

Road rage rules with this infuriated driver shaking his fist

Road rage rules with this infuriated driver shaking his fist

Rage is a defence-mechanism used by infants when their environment does not meet their needs. It is pre-verbal, which means that it was created before one can speak. So, when you fly into a fit of rage against someone or something, you may not know the reasons behind. Rage is a disproportionate anger for the situation at hand. Rage is telling you that your needs were not met when you were a child, and you have unresolved emotions that need processing. When pure emotions are not processed in the here-and-now, they can be suppressed and later expressed in unhelpful ways. Rage is one of them.

Both anger and rage have very consistent physical bodily reactions: a twitching stomach, shallow and fast breathing, tense shoulders, a racing heart. If you become more aware of your body, you may feel these symptoms as they appear in your body, and recognise them as anger. When they are getting out of control, it is time for you to take time out from the situation you are in. Time for reflection is essential. Working with a counsellor can help you recognise your anger as it arises so that you can prevent damaging your close relationships. Counselling can also help you explore what unresolved issues may be causing your anger.

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About 10 Healthy habits for mental fitness

Reflections of a psychotherapist about the 10 healthy habits for mental fitness of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

  1. Schedule “me-time” daily: Do not underestimate the power of spending a few minutes by yourself doing what you love, cherishing who you are, enjoying your own company, loving and caring for yourself. If you wish to be loved, start by loving who you are. Then, others will automatically love you.
  2. Reward yourself: Choose things that bring your mood up. Keep a record of things that make you happy. Reward yourself by doing them or getting them when you feel that you deserve a reward.
  3. Play to your strengths: Be realistic with who you are. You are a unique human being. Respect your uniqueness by allowing yourself to be just you and play to the strengths that you have, not that you wished you had.
  4. Ask for help and offer to help: Helping others can be very healing, but some of you may need to stop helping others and start asking for help. If your energy is depleted or you have a chronic condition, it is time to ask for help.
  5. De-stress your diet: Eat a balanced diet and find pleasure in food. Feel the pleasure of choosing your own food, smell it, pick it up, bring it home and cook it with your own hands.
  6. Choose a positive attitude: At times, this may feel extremely difficult. Try to stay present to what is in the moment you are living. A positive attitude is easier when you take one issue at a time, not all of your issues, past, present and future at the same time.
  7. Practice relaxation techniques and get enough sleep: One thing will bring the other. If you have difficulties sleeping, try relaxing your body with relaxation exercises. Our bodies are often working on overdrive. We need to relax to let ourselves be replenished.
  8. Set goals and stay on target with a journal: Be gentle with yourself. If you do this, start by setting goals that you are sure to be able to achieve.
  9. Get regular physical activity: If you don’t like sports, do you like walking in nature? Dancing? Bouncing? Swimming? Anything that makes your body move will make you more active and improve your mental, as well as physical fitness.
  10. Press pause once in a while – Downtime is good.


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There is hole in the sidewalk 

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.Young_people_walking_in_foreest_in_autumn
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.” Portia Nelson