Life advice with Louis Byrne: therapy

by | 16 Jan 2023

Speaking candidly to Creative HEAD, Louis Byrne discusses the importance of therapy and professional guidance to help with mental health

Louis Byrne

“Before I start, I want to say that it took me many years to understand the necessity of therapy. I believe we’ve also seen a huge cultural change in how we view these services and how we talk about them.

“Prior to that, I was on a journey of self-destruction and self-abuse, with such a negative internal dialog. I couldn’t understand the  prospect of baring my soul, until the options were truly running out. I have accessed the services of many different fellowships, including AA NA and sex addiction, because I would abuse myself any way I could rather than truly understanding  myself.  All of theses services have had huge benefit on me and my wellbeing – the hardest part is walking through the door.

 To start 2023 off in a positive way, I want to talk to you about therapy and my experience with it. I’ve teamed up with my therapist, Karen Doherty of Reframe, to offer some professional guidance in the process and selection.

My therapy journey started in the midst of a personal and professional breakdown. A good friend recommend I see their therapist, who had also been recommended to them after facing their own personal battles. Karen had come from a long line of solid recommendations. To reach out for help, you do need to be incredibly honest and admit that there is a problem. It can feel very scary, but without it life can feel even more difficult. 

My journey began with  weekly sessions – I committed to the process, to myself and to my truth. Karen guided me through the process of identifying my behaviour cycles and where things would go wrong. It was an important part of understanding my trauma and letting it go. Perception was also a huge lesson; we all have very different realities going on at the same time but are made to believe we are all the same.

Using therapy helped me clear negative thoughts and give me space to create my own empowerment business, taking all of the positive beneficial tools for growth. This in part gave me the vision for the I Can I Am and I Will Reset plan and wellbeing journal.

Louis Byrne with journal stock

Karen Doherty

Having someone impartial that you can talk with – in a safe space that is just yours – is so valuable. Feeling seen and feeling heard are two of the most important things for a human. Like most things that are beneficial for growth, you will feel fear. I see fear as the body reacting to something it doesn’t know to hold you in a place that feels familiar, even if it is negative and destructive. It’s hard to break cycles but we need to embrace the fear in order to flip the fear.

We need to grow. With growth comes fresh vision, which breeds fresh opportunities and energy. I started the portrait project of the I Can I Am and I Will movement as a way to reconnect, as I had become very isolated. It taught me the power of honest community and connection.

Karen’s advice

“Without a word of mouth recommendation, choosing a counsellor can feel totally overwhelming, so here are a few tips for you.

Most people choose a ‘talking’ therapy first time with either a counsellor or a therapist. The sessions usually start discussing the present,  as most people go to counselling because they are in crisis of some sort: depression, addiction relationship issues. Soon though, the talking will move to a more ‘psychodynamic’ basis. 

What is this?

It is where the counsellor and client start looking to the past. The family, parental relationships and extended family experiences that shape and mould our psyches and personalities are explored together. This is really useful for most people at some point in their lives. So the question is  ‘how do you find someone that can help you?’ 

1. Governing Bodies
Good therapists are usually members of governing bodies like BACP. Always check the training and membership of any possible counsellors that you are interested in. It’s vital that the training is complete and that the counsellor is working within a code of ethics.

All of these organisations have a ‘find a therapist’ section on their websites, so with a bit of looking through it’s usually quite easy to find a couple of therapists that may work. Another source of information is Counselling Directory ,which is a database that counsellors themselves sign up to.

2. In person or remotely
The first thing to decide is how you want to see a counsellor – is it via Zoom, chatting over the phone or in person?

Since the pandemic all of these options have opened up. You can try them all and decide which one suits you. Most counsellors are offering a mix of face-to-face and remote sessions, and the key is to find sessions that can fit in with your diary so that consistency of attendance is assured.

3. Availability 
Once you have made contact with possible counsellors check their availability and how they work. Is it short term or long term, weekly, or bi-weekly sessions? It’s vital that you know so that you can work out your own ability to attend sessions.

4. Cost & Frequency 
It’s important to know this so financial planning can be done. The more relaxed one is about their finances the better they can commit to the sessions.  There are lots of therapists offering short term therapies that can help a lot, even if it’s not ideal. Don’t be afraid to ask and bargain for what you think is going to help you.

5. Type
Is the therapy the right type for you at the time? Sometimes CBT or specific coaching is more appropriate for the presenting issue.

6. Meeting the counsellor

Some offer a short call to discuss whether they have availability or they can help. Others may offer initial assessments. These are usually longer, more thorough and generally more helpful as they give you and the therapist time to see if you have a good fit. 

Try a few different people if you can. Once you feel comfortable with someone, make sure that you ask all your questions before you commit to working with them.

Once you have settled on a counsellor relax into the process. While it can be painful at times, it can be a life-changing experience and one that you will remember for years to come.

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