We sat down with Sofia, a 20 year old woman from Norfolk who received support through EveryYouth’s Health Fund. The Health Fund offers up to 12 counselling sessions with mental health professionals, without having to go through long NHS waiting lists.
What was your life like before you started counselling?
“I struggled with the loss of my brother and father and with handling my emotions, as well as flashbacks of past childhood trauma.”
What did you find useful about counselling?
“I was able to talk about the things I went through in a safe, confidential space.
It’s useful because you can talk about how you actually feel and there’s no filter. You’re not worried about what you say and where it will go so it’s easier to actually be honest.”
What was your expectation of counselling before you got started?
“I had no idea what to expect because I’d never received counselling before, but I didn’t think it would be as good as it was. I didn’t expect to say as much as I did to be honest.
What made it possible to be so honest was the fact that someone was really listening. The counsellor would go back to things that I’d mentioned in previous weeks so I knew someone was actually listening and taking on board what I had to say.”
What was the most difficult thing about counselling?
“Initially it was opening up about things I had been through. I found it hard to talk at first, because I knew it wasn’t a normal childhood. Not a lot of people go through the same things I did, so I found it hard to open up to someone new.”
How do you know that counselling has worked for you?
“I feel more at peace. I know how to deal with my emotions, with things that trigger me and how to prevent this.
I know life is worth living and there’s a lot of things around you that you can look at and notice. That I don’t just have to see things negatively. There are opportunities to pick out the good things and take them on. My whole outlook on life has changed.”
If you were to talk to another person considering counselling, what would you say to them?
“I felt like everything got better. I don’t think that now I would need that counselling again, but maybe in the future, say, if things did get bad again I would feel less reluctant to open up and speak about things. Because I know how it works and I know how comforting it can be just to have someone sit there and listen to you and not judge.”
If one of your friends said it was too difficult start counselling, what would you say?
“I’d say that in the end, from my experience, it is worth it. You might not see it in the beginning, you might even get to the middle thing and still think ‘I don’t know’. But in the long run it’s worth it because you’ve got out everything that you need to get out.
It’s a lot worse thinking about it before you actually go and do it. Because you worry about what the atmosphere is going to be like, how the person is going to respond and what all the right things to say are.
But there’s no right or wrong thing to say, you just go in and speak your mind. Whatever has been bothering you won’t bother you so much in the long run. You’ve spoken about it, and about things that you probably haven’t spoken to anyone about before. Letting it out feels a lot better than keeping it in.”
Read more about our Health Fund here