Annabel Giles Counselling Blog

holding annabel which I say it how I see it, in blog form.

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    Radical, I know. 

    But think about it. Say you hit a big problem, like whether to leave your partner or not. Who do you talk to about it? Your parents will be upset, because they just want you to be happy. Your best friend will only tell you what they want you to hear, because that’s why they’re your best friend. A work colleague may not have met your partner so they’ll have no idea what to say, and you can’t talk to your partner because that’s the problem. 

    Or you’re just bumbling along but you keep making the same mistakes and you don’t know why. Or you want to work out the next step in your career, although you’re not sure you even want to do it any more. Or you’ve lost someone very dear to you, or a much-loved pet and you feel people just don’t want to hear about it any more. 

    Sometimes counselling is good for just checking in with yourself once a week, as at no other time do you get to talk about yourself for an hour without listening to the other person’s stuff too. And a good counsellor will call you on your shit, if you want them to. (I am anti just nodding whilst listening to a client sabotage themselves and others.) I see all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons, and I always say that if something’s bothering them, then it’s important, even if they think it isn’t. 

    I strongly believe that if people were made to stop and think once a week for an hour, toxic marriages and unnecessary wars and farcical Brexits might have been avoided. And better friendships and fulfilling lives and healthier thinking might have been achieved. It’s especially important these days, as many ‘opinions are my own’ have been taken from people shouting on social media, without stopping to think if you really agree, and then having the courage to say you don’t. These days you’ve either got to think like me or don’t think at all. 

    We all need an impartial ear and a sounding board and a look at our personality at some point in our lives, and counsellors/therapists offer just that. It’s not a sign of weakness to go for therapy, it shows strength and courage. 

    I just wish everyone would take a long hard look at themselves before inflicting their best thinking on others. Think what you could have avoided if only you’d talked to someone first... go on, give it a go, I dare you xxx 

    PS I realise that not everyone can afford a private counsellor, and yet so many people need to see one. More about this later. 




    WHY I BECAME A COUNSELLOR by Annabel Giles age 59 and 2/3rds 

    A few years ago, I made the mistake of getting older. I had enjoyed various glamorous careers over the past 30 years: model (dull but lucrative), tv presenter (fun but for the young) and novellist (interesting but lonely) but it wasn’t until I hit my 50s that I realised I still had to keep earning money for quite a few years to come. 

    Not only had the government raised the age I get my huge state pension (currently around £8,000 a year - don’t knock it but don’t rely on it) to 66, but I’d made the critical error of being single too, so had no-one to share the bills with. Now I’m no mathematician, but as the current life expectancy in the UK is around 81, that’s an awfully long time to be paying for gas and electricity and so I decided to train for a Proper Job. 

    I have no ‘A’ levels, no University degree and a very short attention span. I find a lot of people who aren’t the same as me very annoying, I am a hardass who doesn’t cry at animal charity appeals and I abhor selfish parking. I was just as surprised as everyone else, therefore, when I chose to train as a counsellor/psychotherapist. 

    Well, it’s a job you can do sitting down, and nobody can force you to retire. And joy of joys, the older you look the wiser people think you are, and even if you only qualified last week you still look good at your job. 

    (I should add here that having had an erm interesting life, I’ve had masses of therapy over the last 30 years and reader, it works.) 

    I loved college, I bloody loved it. Not necessarily the group bits, like listening back to other’s tactless opinions of you and having to write a journal about who you’d like to stab this week, but oh, the knowledge!!! Suddenly the whys and wherefores of human behaviour began to fall into place and I began to understand what makes us who we are.* 

    So I’m now fully qualified, and I have my own private practice in Brighton and London and I even have clients on Skype, who I’ve never met but know intimately. I’m not exactly your flowing linens and big wooden jewellery type of therapist, and I’ve never sat with my head on one side sighing empathically either. I’m very basic and make it very clear that I’m a human being rather than a guru. With my knowledge and their courage we find the truth, talk about it, cry about it until we can laugh about it, and then come up with a better plan. 

    It’s an infuriating job and an inspiring one. It can be draining and frustrating, and compassion fatigue (“look, just bloody leave him”) is kept at bay by having proper breaks, long baths and special treats. But it’s also a privilege to watch someone get better, and I get to witness the determination and resilience of the human spirit on a daily basis. 

    So now that I’m older and not necessarily wiser but armed with a few more facts, I’ve decided that it’s OK to write about what I see and know here, from time to time. It’s your turn to listen while I talk! 

    *it’s all your parents fault, and if you really want to do the best thing for your kids, don’t have any. Just kidding xxx