I don’t know about you, but I’m abit tired of hearing myself talk about the neuroscience of sleep and I’ve got abit of a writer’s block. So the solution to that? Repost something from the past. Haha. Sorry…abit of a lazy woman’s way to keeping a blog going. You know what they say…an oldie is a goodie. Or something to that effect. I have wanted to write something related to this topic anyways. But until I’m able to move past my writer’s block, here’s something for you to read. It’s related to this article that came out in the Straits Times eons ago and I think the link to the article is no longer working cos it was eons ago BUT I’ve quoted from it so you might still be able to catch the drift. 🙂 And my response is of course evergreen…because the issue surrounding getting help (whether in person or through a helpline) is evergreen….here goes….
“eh counsellor, didn’t you read the Straits Times article that youths don’t like to call helplines? That it’s wimpy if not somewhat strange to be asking for advice from a total stranger?” (see link below to refer to article). Well, the short answer is that I did read the article and I don’t agree with some of the stuff the youths interviewed were saying. In fact I’m a little irritated (which probably comes through as you read this article) so perhaps this was an act of rebellion on my part to have an opportunity to state where I come from when it comes to helplines and counselling for that matter.
In the article (see link below) one of the youths said and I quote,
“seeking help from a stranger through helplines would be the last thing I would do, as I am not prepared to accept advice from people who do not understand my personality”
I think it’s an erroneous view of how helplines work and in that sense how counselling works for that matter. It’s true that there are some counsellors who go into counselling because they think they’re real good at dishing out advice to an advice-hungry world. But the fact is that counselling is really not about giving advice or telling you what you should or should not do. It’s true that sometimes I do state my opinion because students asked for it directly. To me though, it’s really about empathic presence and space, unconditional acceptance and positive regard. Perhaps I hold lofty beliefs that people can and do find answers for themselves if they are given a space in which they are facilitated to do so.
Another youth said and again I quote,
“I do not see the need for an outsider to manage my life and emotions. I also have an impression that counsellors tend to act too righteous and ‘neutral’. I am sure we have heard enough advice from parents and adults throughout our lives. At the age of 20, am I not mature enough to deal with my own life?”
To me, seeking help through helplines or counselling is not about maturity or immaturity when it comes to dealing with one’s own life. And it’s also not about relinquishing control or management of your life to someone else either.
Of course it would be ideal if we all have family and friends who can listen to us, support us and accept us no matter what issues we go to them with. We would all like that. But sometimes there is too much pain and confusion in our lives and it is sad when one is in such a position that he/she is unable to confide in anyone else in their lives. That is when helplines and counsellors come in. I had a student who walked in a couple of weeks ago and said, “I am in so much pain but when I ran over in my mind who I could go to who would listen to me, I could only think of you”. And I’ve never even met that student before. When I hear things like that, it’s not an ego-boost to me as much as it re-affirms why I’m doing what I’m doing. And I think it’s the same thing for the helplines.
I guess I’m being rather emphatic here with the usual humour sorely missing because I think of how I was a screwed-up teenager once and I badly needed to talk to someone; anyone. Not family because they wouldn’t listen without criticism. Not friends because they would laugh it off or they would at best look at me with a pained expression and I loathed sympathy. But I didn’t know who I could call. Helplines were not as readily available then and I couldn’t google for a solution (internet didn’t even exist in a big way then!). The only number I knew was 999 which incidentally I did dial once but put down rather quickly.
Today, it’s different. So go on, reach out for help if you need to. Afterall, isn’t learning to reach out for help one of the ways in managing stress?