The clients with whom I work are people who in most cases have lived large parts of their lives free from severe emotional difficulties. They are people who have generally coped well with life and yet they are presently confronted with difficulties that they are unable to resolve alone or through the help of friends. For couples, this often results from a change in the relationship as the partners mature or the relationship is impacted by events outside. For individuals, the difficulties might arise through issues at work or in the broader family. Very often, the social impact of living abroad or with a partner of different cultural heritage amplifies the difficulty. These are situations where the coping and communication strategies that we learned early in life no longer equip us for the challenges that we face. Counselling helps us understand the past and choose more helpful responses in the present.
Facing life with confidence
Almost everyone is familiar with depressive states or phases. They come in different forms and shapes. However, depression is more than feeling unhappy and depressed for a few days or being fed up with everything. In general, they are characterised by feelings of hopelessness, inner emptiness and despair and are accompanied by listlessness, senselessness and sleep disturbances for weeks and months.
Many people don't take depression seriously enough for a long time or see it as a sign of weakness, but not so. It is a mild to severe disorder, some of which has familial and genetic causes. Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide range of symptoms. These can include brooding, self-recrimination and negative evaluations, which can lead to withdrawal and isolation. They can also include physical symptoms such as lethargy, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite and libido, as well as various aches and pains. We often respond by becoming increasingly inactive and losing more and more interest in our environment and the things we normally enjoy. Before we fully realise it, we are caught in a vicious circle from which we can no longer find the strength to get out.
Low mood and patterns of negative thinking are one of the most common psychological difficulties. Approximately one in ten people experience it once in their lifetime, and the sooner they work to resolve this condition, the less likely it is to worsen and become chronic. The good news is that with the right intervention, most people can make a full recovery. Counselling offers the opportunity to find the root causes and recognise how they relate to our assumptions about ourselves and others. It can help us break this cycle of unhelpful thoughts, feelings and behaviour and learn to actively steer life in a positive direction again.
Dare to live life anew
Anxiety problems are familiar to all of us and appear in many forms. Even though our modern western world has become safer than ever before, difficulties with anxiety remain something that affects one in four of us at least once in our lives. Whether they are unspecific fears of the new or the future, or whether they are circumscribed fears, such as of social situations, exams, appearances, losses, illness, or of heights or enclosed spaces, the fundamental problem is our fear of fear itself.
Our attempts to deal with it and to avoid or dampen fearful situations, such as the excessive use of medication or addictive substances of all kinds, do not lead to a solution, but result in maintaining or even increasing the fear.
The first step in dealing with anxiety is to understand how it developed. Fear has a biological basis and warns us of threatening dangers. This is very useful for our survival. However, fear can also unnecessarily expand in our minds to include factually non-threatening situations where we imagine threat, powerlessness and loss of control and think we cannot bear it.
Psychologically, fears also point us to things we do not want to see or feel. It is the feelings that are experienced as very unpleasant that lie behind them. Fighting them off is not helpful and blocks us, which often results in massive restrictions in our ability to act and perform as well as in our quality of life. They become a habit, make us unfree and encourage dependency.
Behind every anxiety there is a longing! When we understand the root of our fears, which have either arisen due to negative experiences or which have been culturally conditioned and learned over time in our upbringing, they dissolve, sometimes amazingly quickly. With other fears, it takes more time to face what we do not want to accept as a given. Freeing ourselves from fear means challenging our way of thinking and, with support, daring to try something new.
Can it be friendship or love?
As human beings, we always live in different kinds of relationships. We all want them to be happy and fulfilling and most of us believe that we are capable of providing the love, support and honesty that makes a relationship flourish. We think we are doing it right, but many relationships still run into difficulties after a while. Misunderstandings, unresolved conflicts or unprocessed hurts often end up in people hardly being able to talk constructively to each other any more, so that they no longer have understanding for each other's differences, so that they feel less positively about each other and share less common ground, closeness or intimacy with each other.
In fact, there are often too few opportunities to learn good basics for relationship sharing. That is why it is important to offer insights to those with difficulties that arise again and again. This applies to couple relationships as well as relationships with relatives, friends or work colleagues.
I like to offer professional help especially to couples who want to get more seriously involved with each other for the first time, couples who are determined to commit deeper in a relationship but stumble because of negative previous experiences, couples who are experiencing a stressful family life, or experienced couples whose relationship is stuck in a crisis after many years.
At the beginning, there is an honest stocktaking of the current relationship situation:
○ Where do we stand with regard to each other?
○ Where are there problems?
○ What are our respective needs and visions?
○ What do we have in common and where are we different?
○ How can we find trust in each other again?
○ How can we deal with a serious illness or a loss?
○ How do we deal with disagreements in parenting issues?
The goal is to develop a deeper understanding and respect for each other. When both partners bring to light their needs, their hopes, their vision for independent development and deal with the fears that this may bring, then bonding can grow without creating dependency.
All aspects of the relationship, such as communication, distribution of tasks, conflict resolution or time sharing may be explored in a protected space with the counsellor. You will be accompanied as a couple in learning how to feel again, dissolve bad habits and regain interest in what we have in common. Very concrete practical agreements and instructions, structures for living together and training in communicative skills can help to find clarification and create closeness.
Often it is only possible to address and heal overwhelming emotions and resolve taboo issues together with a neutral person, so that the fire of intimacy, passion, and closeness can reignite and precious time together can grow.
Stress / Burnout
Why is relaxation so difficult?
Our fast-moving times produce true technological wonders and almost unlimited possibilities. At the same time, however, we are exposed to more and more demands that can cause stress of various kinds. As we strive to meet all of these demands, a vicious circle often begins that leads to a deep state of exhaustion. If the signs of too much stress are not recognised in time and counteracted accordingly, relationships and health are often affected. Through brain research, there is now much more knowledge about the physical processes associated with stress and stress reduction.
○ Do you ask yourself where you keep overloading yourself and how you lose energy unnecessarily?
○ Are you still motivated and effective in your everyday tasks?
○ Do you go round in circles too often in your thoughts and actions?
○ What exactly is really causing you stress and what are the effects?
○ How can you bring real added value and quality time into your life?
○ Do you no longer find enough relaxation in your free time and more often border on being overwhelmed?
We look at the physical and mental processes that take place during stress and how internal and external causes of stress can be recognised at an early stage. You will learn how to deal with stressful emotions as well as how to regulate your thoughts in connection with the current situation and your own life history. We will also look at ways to improve awareness, become more grounded in the activity in which you are engaged, increase physical activity and relaxation, set boundaries for social media and other time sinks. These methods are demonstrably effective when used regularly, so that stress can be reduced sustainably or counteracted preventively.
A deeper experience of life
Counselling is also used by many people to promote their personal growth and discover more of themselves. At certain stages in life, it is helpful to re-explore and re-evaluate one's beliefs and attitudes as this can bring greater freedom in shaping of one's life. Previous values and goals are updated and prioritised, learning is re-integrated, with the potential for a new direction. Others wish to improve and deepen their relationships with the help of counselling. This may involve rediscovering one's own forgotten potential as well as the resources of the environment as a whole. It may also involve learning new communication skills that support greater openness and deeper emotional intimacy. Altogether life becomes more alive and more colourful.
Ultimately, this journey of discovery can lead to spiritual insights that go beyond the everyday, that touch and open up deeper layers of life and foster completely new dimensions of connectedness to others and with nature.