Counselling Issues / Distress


In the majority of relationships one individual is more forceful or dominant, however if this gets to the point where one persons needs are not considered the relationship can become abusive. Often the abusive behaviour comes from a strong need for affection or love and therefore to begin with may be misconstrued as positive or excused under the guise of insecurity or jealousy. The abuse can develop slowly and will usually be seen through behavioural patterns of lack of respect for the other person and attempting to control them. There are three types of abuse emotional, physical and sexual and an abusive relationship is one where there may be threats of violence to the victim or by the abuser to themselves, the abuser attempts to restrict or control the victim, criticism and belittling are the norm and the victims needs are not considered.


Individuals can use addictions as a temporary escape from daily life and its problems. These addictions can be to obvious substances such as drugs, alcohol or food, but also can be to activities such as shopping, exercise, sex or using the internet. Addiction literally means being unable to stop, even though harm is occurring, a repetitive action. It is used by many to bring relief from life and to try and deal with anxiety or depression. However the relief is short lived and brings with it additional shame or guilt and therefore creates further destruction and more anxiety than was already felt. The brain uses chemicals to motivate (dopamine) and to reward behaviour (endorphins), but when we are at a low, and these chemicals are not naturally been produced, the need for addiction can increase. The use of substance or participation in certain activities can produce the highs we are missing but they need to continually be repeated as the lows that follow increase the feeling of hopelessness leading to bigger and bigger highs been required to feel good.


Problems can arise both from expressing anger and from not been able to. Like all emotions anger invokes chemical and physical changes in the body. When we are angry our adrenaline level increases as does our heart beat and these rushes can become addictive. The signs that someone has a problem with rage are things such as domestic violence, uncontrolled volatile eruptions, fury when driving or at work and controlling behaviour. However it is also worth noting that anxiety and depression can point towards internal anger and that substance abuse may be masking an anger problem. Anger that is left unexpressed at the other end of the spectrum can lead to physical and emotional problems itself. There is a fine balance when it comes to this emotion.


We all have points in life when we feel upset or troubled and this is perfectly healthy, however if these worries starts to stop us from enjoying life it may be that we are suffering from anxiety. Anxiety can for many be a worry that is not substantiated, a fear of nothing in particular but something that takes over everyday life, all one can think about. Anxiety can continue to build until the sufferer gets to the point where they are anxious about their anxiety and this is a destructive path to head down. Signs that an individual is anxious are both mental and physical and can include declining energy levels, a lack of concentration, changing eating habits and insomnia. An individual suffering from anxiety may also be in pain and suffer from a loss of control resulting in trembling or shaking. Mental the individual is likely to withdraw from social interaction as the anxiety takes over more and more of their thoughts.


How we experience loss and grief is different for each individual; however it is normal to feel depressed and even annoyed when someone close to us leaves or dies. Following the loss of someone we go through a "cycle" of mourning which is usually understood to be made up of six stages. That is shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and finally acceptance. Greif is different for everyone which means some people move through the process of mourning with ease whereas others may get trapped at one point. The process of mourning should help the individual accept the loss and adept their life accordingly and to work through the grief and pain. If this does not happen naturally then counselling can help, talking about the loss of someone can be very therapeutic whereas ignoring feelings or denying them is likely to only prolong the pain. If the relationship with the person who has been lost was a difficult or emotionally draining one often the loss can be even harder to bear as a result of feelings of guilt and competing feelings, in which case talking this through can be of great help in the process of moving on.


Professor Dan Olweus defines bullying as "Repeated intimidation of a victim that is intentionally carried out by a more powerful person or group in order to cause physical and/or emotional hurt." Bullying does not only happen to children and is in fact something that occurs in all sections of society regardless of age. It can come in many different forms not just the physical. There is also verbal, emotional, sexual and racial bullying and can even occur virtually by using technology in the case of cyber bullying. A victim of bullying may display some of the following characteristics: an unwillingness to attend an institution whether it is educational or work, being passive and powerless when confronted, being more withdrawn and less outgoing, being secretive and in extreme cases experiencing bad dreams and panic attacks.


This is a very common problem to the extent that the statistics suggest that 1 in 3 people will be affected by it at some point in their life. The first signs that someone is suffering from depression are usually devastating feelings of misery along with changes in sleeping and eating behaviours. Other symptoms can include head and stomach aches as well as constant contemplation of death and suicide. Depression is not age related but most commonly attacks when people hit middle age. Depression can occur as a result of many things such as psychological reasons of loss or failure, physical reasons such as childbirth, menopause or other chemical imbalances or social changes such as losing a job. We all have low times but it is worth bearing in mind that if one of these periods last longer than a fortnight or starts to affect other areas of your life it may be time to seek help.

Eating Disorders

There are three types of eating disorder: Bulimia, Anorexia and Binge-eating, although research shows the first two to e mainly a female problem, binge-eating seems to be a problem for men almost as much as women. An eating disorder comes from obsession with body image. The individual will obsess over what they weigh and these can lead to serious problems. People suffering from an eating disorder are likely to display some if not all of the following symptoms; excessive change in weight quickly, fixation on calories and fat, strange food habits and food hiding, mood swings and feeling down and even suicidal.

Low Self-Confidence

If you are suffering from low self confidence you may be feeling very negative about yourself. It is likely that you are unsure of your own abilities, who you are and your own needs. You may feel uneasy or shy in certain circumstances and may even feel worthless. Heightening your level of self confidence can bring many benefits in life from your career to your social life and also help improve your general state of mind. Self Confidence is in fact a skill which can be acquired and although there is no "quick fix" altering ones level of self confidence can be a highly beneficial experience. It may be that you only suffer low self confidence in certain aspects of your life and becoming more confident in this areas could make changes in your life or you may simply need to raise your confidence in yourself as a whole.

Low Self Esteem

Many people imagine that self esteem is the same as self confidence which is in fact not the case. Self confident people can actually suffer from low self esteem. The Latin word esteem translates into English as "to estimate" and therefore self esteem is considered to be how we estimate ourselves. Someone in the public eye, for example may be completely self confident whilst in the limelight but behind close doors could suffer from low self esteem. Most people suffer with low self esteem at particularly low points in life such as losing a relationship or job but they will revert back to normal levels of self worth and experience high levels of self esteem at high points such as the beginning of a relationship or a new job or promotion. Those who never revert back to feeling good about there selves are said to be suffering from chronic low self esteem. There are number of signs that may indicate someone is suffering from low self esteem and these include: low motivation, lethargy, boredom with their life, constant wishing life was improved, negative attitude toward them self, depression. An individual suffering from this condition may also be prone to alcohol or drug abuse as a method of coping.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is normally made up of both compulsions and obsessions. Compulsions are the need to repeatedly perform certain actions such as checking locks or washing hands for example, obsessions are the intrusive thoughts or impulses that come with these needs. As a rule the repeated action does not bring the sufferer of OCD any pleasure and they tend to feel it is irrational themselves as such it is often a secret process and can be a highly destructive way of managing a fear. The compulsion is used to stop the obsession coming true for example repeated hand wash could be because the obsession is that of dirt or illness. OCD is an anxiety disorder which has other symptoms not just the compulsion which may be done in secret. Depression and guilt accompany the repetition as can thoughts of harm.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Following dreadful events such as natural disasters, accidents and war we all react differently and handle the aftermath in different ways. One of the ways this type of incident can affect an individual is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which has the following symptoms: been unable to stop thinking about the event, overwhelming fear and vivid memories with images, smells and colours, some individuals may avoid talking about the episode at all but this can lead to seclusion from others, been very jumpy or easily spooked, irritableness, insomnia. It is recommended that a period of a month is waited until professional help is sought. These responses are all normal fight or flight responses that are bodies use particular to handle traumatic events. However after a month if symptoms remain some help maybe needed in order to move on.


Any relationship that reduces an individual's self esteem needs to be looked at. Our sense of self rests heavily on the quality of our relationships. As a child we learn how to interact with others and we can become trapped in unhealthy relationship habits from then. Symptoms that a relationship is in difficulty can be the feeling that you are repeating a familiar pattern, feeling pressurised or bullied, feeling held back or limiting activities outside of the relationship for fear of reprisals and also anxiety and depression. If the problems you are experiencing or in the relationship with your partner it may be worth considering Couples Counselling where instead of the individuals being the client the relationship is.

Sexual Difficulties

Problems in an intimate relationship can occur due to sexual difficulties but problems in this department can in fact indicate that there are bigger issues in the relationship. Sexual problems can indicate other issues such as alcohol or drug problems, loss of self esteem, stress and betrayal of trust amongst others.


The daily strains and pressures we are put under are collectively known as Stress. This can be a positive experience which gives you the extra push to complete a piece of work but it can also be a negative thing. Too much stress can leave people functioning poorly and even be a risk to their health such as increased blood pressure or a damaged immune system. Also depression and anxiety are often a result of too much stress. Stress is very individual, what drives one person to succeed can result in another person becoming ill. It is often caused by the pressures we imagine are being exerted on us rather than the reality of what actually is. There are two types of stress, the everyday strains of deadlines, outstanding bills and other concerns and the life changing pressure of death, divorce, marriage etc. The symptoms of stress are both emotional and physical. Emotional symptoms include short temperedness, extreme emotional responses and anxiety or depression. The physical include insomnia, nail biting, increased smoking or alcohol, bowel problems, sweating, chest pains etc.


The average person spends nearly 25% of their adult life at work. Work gives us financial stability and often a sense of purpose but it can also be a source of stress, frustration, lowered self esteem and even poor health. Work related problems do not remain in the workplace and can go on to cause problems in our other relationships. We can get to a point where we fear going to work, suffer from a poor work life balance, have headaches or other physical problems and eventually suffer from anxiety or depression. The time to seek help is if sleep is being lost about attending work and the fear is constant as well as if we start drinking excessively or begin to notice patterns in our behaviour that are problematic.