Example Case Studies
In order to maintain confidentiality these are fictitious clients but are based on past clients real experiences. I hope to give an idea of how the counselling journey might go rather than individual life stories.
Johanna, Reading (age 30)
Johanna came to a counselling because she was experiencing very difficult feelings after loosing a baby. There was something wrong and she felt she couldn't cope with life. Nobody seemed to understand. She was struggling to focus at work and loosing her temper with those close to her. She was deeply upset for the baby she wanted and lost and felt a mixture of sorrow, guilt and anger. She recognised that she was dealing with the feelings associated with grief and wanted help to move through them.
I worked with Johanna by listening to her story in her own words, what had happened to her, what this did to her and how horrible it was. I encouraged her in a number of ways to explore the medical aspects and how they affected her important relationships, emotions and thoughts as she felt that she had been rushed and ignored during her time in hospital. Her experiences also impacted her faith, which was distressing because she usually found this to be a positive support in her life.
She felt isolated when initial compassion and support from others had stopped and she felt that she was being forced to "move on" faster than was possible. Having a space with a trained counsellor provided the time she needed to remember and think about her baby and decide how she wanted to move forward in her own time. She was also able to express some thoughts and emotions that she did not understand and had hidden from others.
She explored her anger and feelings of rage towards life and the sense of unfairness.. This helped her arrive in a place where she had more acceptance of the fact that we can't control certain aspects of life, she came to terms with feelings of helplessness and could more clearly see a way forward.
Importantly, Johanna had a place to explore without judgement or pressure. By working with her grief she was able to be more open with her partner and they experienced more closeness together in their pain and with less conflict.
She was able to admit her deep angry thoughts towards God and begin to see that forgiveness and release was a option for her if she chose to take it, that somehow God was with her in the pain and not against her. This made her feel more peaceful.
Lucia, Woodley (age 14)
Lucia was struggling with school and getting into trouble with some of her teachers. She felt no one understood her and she complained of bullying from other girls. She didn't want to discuss home life but needed help to stop cutting herself. She was nervous and angry but felt that counselling might help her feel better.
At first we got to know each other a bit. We used pictures, drawings and toy animals to map out her ideas of herself and the girls at school who she talked with. Over time she began to see that she had lots of important qualities such as loyalty, kindness and fun but that she often spent unhelpful time in conversations with others that made her feel low and angry.
We explored this new self-understanding and how she might connect well with others her age using self-assertive techniques. She began to see her own bullying behaviour and how this impacted on others. New ways of relating were practised.
As time went on she decided to talk about her family life and how she experienced this. She began to be more open and explore a variety of relationships at school that were more positive which also increased her self esteem.
Her cutting stopped and we discussed coping techniques and practices she could use when stress was high. By practising deep breathing and learning to relax. By working with a counsellor she came to learn that there were ways of taking some control over her life.