Counselling usually works better if you seek it out yourself. You may not get the best out of it if you don’t really want to be there.
When counselling may help
You may prefer to talk things over with someone when you are first diagnosed with cancer. This can help you to sort out your feelings during treatment.
Or the full emotional impact of having cancer may not hit you until treatment is over and counselling might help you better then.
Some of the problems where counselling can help
As a general rule, if your cancer causes you any of these problems for any length of time, then counselling may help you to get back on track:
- feeling very anxious, depressed, sad, tired or angry
- difficulties coping with everyday issues such as work or socialising
- problems with sleeping and concentrating
- relationship, sexual or financial problems
Remember though that many of these symptoms can be side effects from your cancer and its treatment. They are likely to go away once your treatment has finished, though it may take a while.
Always let your doctor or nurse know about any symptoms that you have.
Worries about having counselling
You might be put off counselling because you feel it’s a sign of weakness, that you are going mad, or that you’ve failed to cope with things on your own.
Admitting you need counselling is a strength, not a weakness
The important things to remember about going to see a counsellor are that:
- it is not a sign of weakness
- it doesn’t mean that you can't cope
- it doesn't mean you are going mad
- it can help you to cope and to feel better about things
Not everyone who has cancer needs counselling. People handle stress in different ways. It all depends on the type of person you are, your genetic make up, how much support you have, and your life experiences.
So if you feel that counselling could help, don’t feel it’s a weakness to ask for it. In fact, it takes a lot of courage to seek help with a counsellor. It shows that you’re taking control of things.
Choosing counselling means that you recognise that, at this point in your life, you need someone to talk to. You need help to sort out your thoughts and feelings.
In the long run it may make you a much stronger person and help lessen the struggle you’re going through.
Counselling is time for just you
An hour a week devoted to just you can be of real benefit during or after your treatment.
It is time to think about how yor feel, what you want and what’s happening in your life right now. You can say whatever you like and it will stay between you and your counsellor.
The emotional pressures of a cancer diagnosis can be immense, both during treatment and afterwards. Talking to a counsellor gives you a chance to talk about what it really feels like, and to share and let go of some of your feelings.
Talking to family or friends
Not everyone who has cancer needs to get professional counselling. Of course, many of us have people who regularly listen to our worries and problems.
You may have family members, friends, a religious adviser or a caring neighbour who will be all that you want and need.
It may be easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know you
Family and friends aren’t always enough. Sometimes, it’s easier to talk to someone who doesn’t know you quite as well.
Some of the advantages of talking to a professional counsellor can mean that:
- you don't have to worry about upsetting or worrying them
- they will not judge you or what you have done
- you may find it easier to sort out and talk about your deepest feelings
- they won’t say something just because it is what they think you want to hear