My Experience: Why Counselling Was The Best Decision I Ever Made

I've written a lot of articles and pieces on mental health and my own personal experiences in the past but if I'm being completely honest here (which of course I will be), writing about such a heavy topic on College Times is quite scary. Most people wouldn't expect to read this kind of stuff here, but mental health is an area we feel needs to be discussed more openly and frequently. So, here I am, about to tell you all my story. My story of how counselling saved my life and why I believe it could save yours too...

A lot of people treat counselling as a taboo subject; they don't want to acknowledge that it's a reality for so many people in this country. Many others are embarrassed to admit they attend counselling or even that it's a service they may need to avail of. In my opinion, it's a fucking joke that mental health is so stigmatised and that a person can't even talk about the fact that they're getting help for their problems.


Although there's been a massive increase in people discussing their own mental health problems in recent times, a majority of those people never actually reference counselling. They talk about their symptoms and the effects it had on their lives, but it's seldom that they discuss how they overcame their problem.


When I was fourteen I spent nine months seeing counsellors. Three different counsellors, to be exact. All at the same time. Most of you probably immediately assumed my parents made the decision to send me there, or even a concerned teacher trying to look out for me. Well, you're sadly mistaken. On my first day back at school in third year, we were introduced to a counsellor who was going to be working full-time in the school that year. NOT a guidance counsellor, btw because I could never have divulged my inner thoughts to a person that was going to be giving me career advice in class two hours later.



By lunchtime that very first day, I knew I had to go speak to her. I could recognise that I needed her help in any shape or form. That's why I believe the decision to go for counselling has to come from the person themselves. Someone instructing you or forcing you into it won't help because you won't open up fully to the counsellor. Unless you know yourself that you need their help, you're going to be wasting precious time that they could be spending with other people in need.

I know what you're thinking. If I was seeing a counsellor in school, how the hell did I end up going to three at the same time? Am I super needy or something? Well, yes I am but not in this scenario. Apparently my school were so concerned about my well-being that they gave me an ultimatum - see a second counsellor outside of school hours or get the fuck out of the school. No seriously, that was the choice I was given.


As you can imagine, that didn't go down too well with me because I felt like I was being forced into the extra counselling. Well, I was being forced. So as I mentioned above, I didn't open up to either of the other two counsellors outside of school. I stuck to the one in school that I had gone to of my own accord and that I felt most comfortable with. If it wasn't for meeting her, God knows where I'd be right now.


That's why taking that massive step (because it is a massive fucking difficult step to take) was the best decision I've made in my life so far. I'm nineteen now and I still think that. If it was up to me, every school across the country would employ a full-time counsellor as well as having a guidance counsellor because, at least in my opinion, they're two very different people.


My time in counselling taught me a lot of things about myself which I wouldn't have known otherwise. It taught me that relying on someone isn't the worst thing in the world and that's it's okay not to have your shit together all of the time. Asking someone to listen to how you're feeling isn't a crime against the universe and we shouldn't be afraid to reach out to someone we trust if we're not feeling 100%. It's the natural thing to do.


After my last counselling session, I felt like I knew myself better than I ever had in my entire life. I felt like a new person with a whole new outlook on life. My confidence and self-esteem were replenished and I had a new lease of life. *Cue "Eye Of The Tiger" soundtrack*


If you have a problem that you just can't shake off no matter how many times you listen to Taylor Swift, talk to someone; preferably a professional. You might think that no-one could ever understand or help the way you're feeling and hey, you might be absolutely right, but talking to someone who specialises in mental health may just be your saving grace. I know it was mine.

Olivia Dawson
Article written by
Olivia is a Journalism and New Media student at the University of Limerick. As well as writing for College Times, she is also a contributor with and After college Olivia hopes to write feature articles and/or opinion pieces for a New York magazine, from a penthouse suite in Manhattan, earning a six-figure annual salary. She's also known for being slightly over-ambitious.

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