Letters from the dorm: talking to a counsellor can help you know yourself better

Cyril Ip
Cyril Ip |

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People can change a lot in three years.

I looked at my new student photo that was taken a few days ago, and I was left in complete awe. Not because I finally have a decent-looking picture for my profile, but because I look so different from just over three years ago, when I first came to this school.

Three years ago, I was an innocent newcomer, almost without purpose. Just a gust of wind later and I am now in my final year, facing A-levels.

I clearly remember the days of Year 10 when I didn’t worry about tests or exams, because everything was in my hands, and the key subject matter that occupied my thoughts was how to be even more relaxed. Fast forward to today, and I can casually list a hundred things that are on my mind all the time: A-level predicted grades, UCAS application, university courses, catch-up sessions, friendships, relationships, my bank account, how I can get to the party without a car, and so on. From big things to little things, the more I think about them, the more irritated and aggravated I become.

So I decided to see a therapist, who is available at my school. Most importantly, it is a 30-second walk from the boarding house to her office – I don’t have to think about how to get there.

There are tons of inaccurate ideas about seeing a therapist, and so people are terrified to discuss it. “Oh my God, are you okay?” is usually the first response when I tell people that I am seeing the school counsellor. It is not always the case that one has to be unstable, dispirited or depressed to talk to a therapist. Although I go through hurdles in life, I was always convinced that I am more than capable of doing everything and anything myself. But I have realised lately that I want to talk to someone who does not necessarily respond with their own life experiences. I want to talk to someone who will just listen and give me compassionate yet realistic advice – and that is exactly what a professional therapist does.

In a 60-minute session with the school counsellor, I can talk about everything that is bothering me, which is almost everything in my life, but naturally I talk about what truly affects me on an emotional level, such as social injustice, ignorance or problems at home. I find it difficult to have adult conversations with most of my friends, and talking to the counsellor was exactly what I needed – no judgments, no preconceptions, just a listening ear with the intellect to respond usefully.

There are negative connotations to seeing a therapist, which was one of the reasons I avoided doing so when I was first advised to. Through experience, I have found that it is simply about having meaningful conversations and ultimately getting to know yourself better. Who and what you are will become increasingly clear, and you may find it enjoyable to talk to a counsellor, because it helps.

I am speaking from my experience. I hope that you will find a way to deal with your problems. If things don’t seem to be working, try seeing a therapist, get some serenity into your system, and try working it out again – it may be better this time.

Edited by Pete Spurrier