Anna Fowke Counselling
What type of mental health practitioner do I need?
When things are proving tricky, we may reach out for support. The GP may be our first natural port of call. This generally means they will suggest a mental health assessment, usually consisting of a questionnaire that seeks to identify anxiety or depression. This is useful if this is the problem. You may be sent to a psychologist under a mental health plan, receive a series of Medicare-subsidized sessions, and receive a diagnosis and treatment. This is beneficial, but let's stop and think about the myriad of other situations that may trouble us throughout our lives.
We are relational beings, and we all seek to connect with others, we have expectations, and sometimes these may not be met. We may have lost a loved one, lost a job, lost a valued and loved pet, been having marriage difficulties or struggling with our study load at school. We may find it hard to adjust to a change in our life, becoming a parent, retiring, moving into aged care, or starting our working life. Many times, we might benefit from some support to manage our way through a challenging time. This doesn't mean we need a diagnosis or that there is anything wrong with us. Grief counselling, marriage counselling, and counselling adolescents or people of all ages in any transition or change process is essential work that should be done with skill, gentleness, and a counselling lens by all mental health practitioners.
Now I am not for a moment suggesting mental health diagnoses are not helpful and crucial for many people. Many of us need a little support in our lives, and this can be a time to reach out to a counsellor. As a counsellor, I work with many people who have anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions, and that is vital work. When a counsellor works with you, they are generally working to strengthen and build on what is working and to work with you to find strategies and ways of thinking which will help with whatever is causing your difficulty. This way of working beside you is an essential part of my practice. I do not see clients as defective or in need of fixing. I see my clients as wonderful resilient human beings who have reached out to me for assistance navigating a moment in their lives. I am always struck by what an honour this is and how rich and varied everyone's lives are. We all have things to learn from each other and each client I work with teaches me a little something. I am also struck by how alone we can sometimes feel in our difficulties, yet we all deal with the same human difficulties. If I can be a trusted ear for my clients, then I am here for that.
So in summary, it is important that we consider all the different people we can turn to for emotional and mental health support. This list includes the GP, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, mental health nurses and of course, counsellors. Consider how they each work and what your needs are. Are you looking for a medical diagnosis or medication or are you looking for someone to support you as you work through some of life’s stressors? The professionals I mentioned are helpful in different situations and can collaborate brilliantly to support you.
A counsellor will work with you, helping you work out your therapy goals and how you might achieve them. They will work with any existing diagnoses but not make new ones unless they refer you to a psychologist because you decide you need that. We are here to support and validate your strengths and lessen the effects of stressors. This is my particular take on my work and not necessarily indicative of every counsellor. Please feel free to contact me to discuss how I can support you.