Counselling can help if life is too much – Fiona Cook

Relationships are important to everyone
Relationships are important to everyone
Share this article
Have your say

Our current world is ­confusing, stressful and uncertain, with people generally concerned for their future. We find both our mental wellbeing and physical health can be affected. There is a need in this turmoil to care for ourselves and seek a balanced body and mind connection.

Easier said than done, but we know that secure and compassionate ­relationships help this. A vast amount of research from the world of neuroscience proves it to be so.

Imagine relationships like the ­ripples from a pebble dropped in water. They start with a ­person understanding and caring for ­themselves, then ripple out to care for our partners, family, friends, work colleagues, community and onwards nationally and globally. To look after our mental as well as our physical health is not ‘selfish’ but essential to be able to connect in a positive way with others.

I ask you to take a few minutes from reading this to consider if you look after yourself. How would you describe your own relationships? Are some good, some not so good and some in between?

For those not so good, consider if you can why this might be. Is there ‘history’ that has negatively affected you? Is stress a major part of your life, getting in the way of connection with others? How would you like it to be?

There are thousands of self-help books encouraging us to be ­positive all the time and strive for ­happiness. However, this can ­actually do the opposite and set us up to fail. ­Additionally there are an equal number of resources telling us how to achieve the perfect body or engage in the latest diet.

I sense a world of extremes, but in reality, we are sometimes ­happy, sometimes sad, sometimes irritated and angry. All are normal and part of being human. Often we feel in ­turmoil and then take it out on those closest to us. Again, this is natural but can be difficult for others and create more problems.

Sometimes when our feelings ­overwhelm us and we feel we ­cannot manage them, we might turn to ­something that makes us feel ­better in the short term. The danger is this can develop into something we ­cannot let go of and it can easily ­spiral out of control.

Again, more problems might start. It is a ‘Catch 22’ and often in these ­situations, we drive away those ­closest to us but whom we need the most. This is where counselling helps to get us back on track. The counsellors at Relationships Scotland work with both individuals and couples to explore all aspects of relationships and they endeavour to help our ­clients to find a way through their troubles.

Counsellors will never ‘prescribe’ a solution, a diet or regime – ­however they might explore with clients how their lifestyles affect them individually, and in their ­relationships.

We take into account the immediate situation as well as looking back at the early days of life and explore the families which clients come from and how these worked. As humans, we sometimes repeat patterns created in our families, even those we know are not helpful. In counselling we explore what is ‘healthy’ and what is not so.

An awareness of how feelings and behaviours are managed is the core of our work as we rebuild ­understanding, communication, intimacy and, yes, sex!

Our clients therefore not only grow to understand their partner but, most importantly, themselves. We know, as ­science proves, that nurturing and supportive relationships in whatever form these take, lead to healthier lives.

This, in turn, is positive for children, the wider family, work and social ­circles. In Relationships Scotland, statistics from last year show that 98 per cent of clients said their relationship and family situation had improved because of counselling.

We work from a pro-active, grassroots basis, enabling our clients to understand themselves, and repair, build and maintain better relationships for the rest of their lives. This can only be good in our topsy-turvy world. To find out more about the work of Relationships Scotland, visit or call 0345 119 2020.

Fiona Cook, head of practice for counselling, Relationships Scotland.