My goal as a counsellor is to assist people with depression and anxiety and in particular assist people with issues and concerns relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.
There are different counselling styles or approaches. I tend to be more non-directive and will mainly listen or strive to understand your deepest feelings. When appropriate, I am more active and perhaps directive and may make suggestions or ask you to try certain activities.
Knowing which direction to take (for example, exactly what to talk about in each session) depends largely on you, on your intuition and what is most important, current or vital, but I may also prompt you or make suggestions. Don’t just wait for me to initiate things; and don’t treat your sessions as ‘just a chat’.
Counselling is a confidential and ethically protected relationship with a trained and qualified counsellor who will take your personal concerns seriously.
Counselling aims to help you understand yourself better and improve the parts of your life that have become stuck or painful. But it isn’t always smooth, predictable and painless; it will require patience and commitment on your part, as well as skill and knowledge on the part of the counsellor.
Counselling is a disciplined, ethical and professional activity that is different from medicine, law, and accountancy. This is because it focuses on each individual and their unique cluster of concerns, it includes emotions, and it sometimes works via feelings that are stirred up between you and your counsellor.
Counsellors are closely supervised. I am ready to hear your views and experiences about the process of counselling and you have avenues for making complaints (via N.Z.A.C.) if you are not satisfied.
Our sexuality is a crucial part of who we are and how we see ourselves in relation to others. The term sexuality becomes easier to understand when it is divided into three parts of sexual orientation, sexual behaviour, and sexual identity.
This refers to the nature of a person’s basic sexual attraction to other people: it may be others of the same gender (homosexual), of the other gender (heterosexual), or of both genders (bisexual). The emphasis placed in our society on heterosexuality as the norm means homosexual and bisexual people can deny, hide, or suppress their sexual orientation.
There is a debate over whether a person’s sexual orientation is determined biologically and therefore fixed, or whether there are elements of choice. Certainly most believe their sexual orientation is fixed and cannot be changed, so it can come as a surprise when they feel attractions outside their usual experience. Such attractions cannot be forced on people: sexual orientation is about natural attraction.
This is what a person does sexually. Our sexual behaviour does not always match our sexual identity or our sexual orientation: a person may engage in heterosexual behaviour but feel their sexual orientation is homosexual.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s Alfred Kinsey, an American scientist, published his studies of male and female sexual behaviour. The prevailing belief at that time (and it probably hasn’t changed a lot today) was that people are either heterosexual, or, in smaller numbers, homosexual. Kinsey’s research showed quite a different picture, revealing a continuum of sexual experience.
This is how people see themselves to others. Because society favours heterosexuality, most people feel pressured to develop a heterosexual identity.
For homosexual men, lesbian women, and bisexual people this heterosexual identity clashes with their orientation and causes confusion and anguish. This is why gays and lesbians have to ‘come out’ (from a presumed heterosexual identity) whereas heterosexual people do not.
Feeling depressed is not the same for everybody and there are a wide range of symptoms which vary in nature and severity. The following areas indicate the presence of depression especially where there have been noticeable changes.
Symptoms of Depression:-
• Sadness (feeling gloomy, moody, or dispirited),
• Feeling irritable and unable to cope,
• Feeling guilty and blaming yourself for things going wrong,
• Feeling dead or numb emotionally,
• Feeling angry a lot or being unable to express anger,
• Inability to experience pleasure,
• Experiencing despair,
• Feelings of worthlessness and/or hopelessness,
• Seeing yourself in a much poorer light (self-criticism),
• Negative expectations and doubts about the future,
• Believing that you can't cope and that things are out of your control,
• Difficulty making decisions and unable to think clearly,
• Having suicidal thoughts and even planning how you might act out suicide,
• Poor concentration and memory,
• Social withdrawal or a dependency on others,
• Loss of interest in activities and a decrease in activities,
• Lack of energy and motivation,
• Weepiness or having difficulty in crying,
• Being tired and feeling sluggish,
• Agitation and an inability to stick at anything for very long,
• Increase in the use of drugs and/or alcohol,
• Lack of sleep, sleeping more than usual, or disturbed sleep patterns,
• Loss of appetite leading to weight loss,
• Over-eating or craving food leading to weight gain,
• Aches, pains, and stomach problems,
• Loss of sexual desire and activity,
• Feeling physically ill.
Anxiety is one of the most distressing emotions that people feel. It is sometimes called fear or nervousness. Important events in our lives can contribute to anxiety, for example, trauma, illness or deaths, things we are taught ("If you get dirty, you'll get sick"), things we observe (watching planes crashing on the television news), and experiences that seem hard to handle (publicly speaking in front of a large crowd).
The symptoms we experience when we are anxious are part of the anxiety response called "fight, flight, or freeze". These three anxiety responses are crucial human reactions to danger or a life-threatening situation. Unfortunately, we also experience these reactions when watching a movie about a robbery or when standing in front of a group of people to give a speech. I'll be able to teach you ways of reducing your anxiety when danger is not present, when the danger is not as serious as you might think, or when too much anxiety interferes with your ability to adequately cope.
Symptoms of Anxiety:-
• Excessive worry and apprehension,
• Overestimation of danger,
• Underestimation of your ability to cope,
• Underestimation of help available,
• Catastrophic thoughts,
• Avoiding anxious situations,
• Leaving situations suddenly when feeling anxious,
• Trying to be perfect or trying to control events to prevent danger,
• Restlessness and irritability,
• Feeling nervous,
• Feeling panicky,
• Muscular tension,
• Sweaty palms,
• Racing heart,
• Flushed cheeks,
• Dizziness or light-headedness.