Hi, my name is Becci, and I am a Mind Detox Practitioner and a Meditation & Development Group leader. I help people going through mild depression, anxiety, stress related illnesses and tough life experiences to turn their life around so they can be at peace with what is happening and move forwards to fulfil their potential.
One of the challenges I know people face when life gets difficult is knowing what kind of support they need. They might be going through things like a divorce, a stressful work experience, postnatal depression, a deep feeling of dissatisfaction, a health crisis or they find themselves blocked an unable to move forwards, sometimes even too afraid to leave the house.
When we get into one of these situations, the last thing we need to do is have to work out what can help us, so it’s good to know a bit about what sort of support and help is out there so you know who to go to for help, when.
Mental health, it’s worth paying attention to
According to Mind, one in four people will experience some kind of mental health illness
According to the UK Mental Health Charity Mind, one in four people will experience some kind of mental health illness in their lifetime such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder. I would argue, taking into account short periods of mental health issues such as exam stress or bereavement, that this figure is far more like four in four people will experience some kind of significant mental illness or mental health stress at some point in their life.
Once a poor distant relative of physical health, it is my view that mental health is worthy of a place in any healthcare system as much as physical health (and spiritual health). To me as a Mind Body expert, I feel this even more strongly as I know that the body is a manifestation of the mind, and the number one cause of all illness in this world is “stress”.
Our mind is a powerful tool that influences our behaviour, relationships and ultimately our wellbeing – so in my view it is an essential part of any healthcare and wellbeing programme. Our mind, quite literally, has the capacity to shut us down, or drive us to do things we wouldn’t normally do – so it is important we have a healthy relationship with it.
So what does each technique do?
I’m going to start with counselling, as this is the oldest recognised profession by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. The word “Counsel” means to give advice, yet ironically, a counsellor’s job is to support an individual experiencing personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties, without giving advice. A counsellor will provide a safe and confidential place, so people can explore their difficulties, free of judgement and opinion. A counsellor might use skills such as active listening, clarification, reflection and effective questioning skills to help the client to see things more clearly in a way that is perhaps not possible with family and friends. Counselling tends to remain in the domain of the present moment, looking at ways of expressing the emotions of and ways of dealing with current challenges. Counselling is not designed to help you change the way you behave, it designed to help you to cope better with the resources you already have.
Psychotherapy is literally therapy for our psyche (the conscious and unconscious mind) and looks at how our thoughts influence our present behaviour. This may mean exploring past experiences, as a way resolving our present life challenges. This is appropriate when we still carry trauma from difficult experiences that cause us to behave differently now. Psychotherapy may ask us to reprocess old experiences so that we can release them from our consciousness. There are many different styles of psychotherapy that work with us and influence us in different ways. Some look at your experiences from an analytical perspective, some from a behavioural and others from the sensations and experiences you experience in your body. The goal of psychotherapy is to resolve current challenges that are mental in origin so we can lead a healthy and fulfilling life.
Coaching is way of developing people’s skills and abilities, and of boosting performance so that they can reach their full potential. This may be done when an individual has a problem, or done proactively to get the best out of a person. A coach and their client will set a defined intention or goal for a session or number of sessions such as change career and then take a number of steps to reach that goal. Like counselling, coaching believes the individual has all the resources within to complete their desired outcome, but unlike counselling, a coach may instruct, train and actively aim to develop skills within an individual to help them achieve that outcome. Coaching doesn’t focus on the past. Instead, if issues from the past surface as a reason for someone not being able to move forwards in life, a coach would refer this person on to get help specifically for that, before coming back to the coaching programme to move forwards through focused action and skills development to reach their goal.
Mind Detox, like counselling, psychotherapy and coaching, is talking based. Taking the positive goal setting elements from coaching, in Mind Detox you start by getting clear on what it is you want to let go of, or gain giving the mind a positive final destination to aim for. In a Mind Detox session, we work with the Unconscious Mind, the seat of all our behaviours, memories and healing. The aim of the session is to clear a historic reason why a problem or issue is currently showing up in your life. Mind Detox is very direct and efficient and discovering and resolving the cause of your problems. A Mind Detox session can be used to clear difficult feelings and emotions around a past experience so you can move on and be at peace, or to resolve a current life challenge such as a fear of heights, inexplicable weight gain or health conditions that may have an emotional origin.
Meditation helps us to let go of overthinking and become aware of our true nature.
Meditation, unlike the other three is something that can be done whether we have challenges in our life or not. Part of a healthy self care programme, meditation helps us to let go of overthinking and become more aware of our true nature. Done through a number of techniques, true meditation has the ability to put space between our thinking and the true essence of who we are. It is a path of self-exploration and a way of being better able to let go of thinking when it is not needed. Meditation is useful for everyone, but those that want a deeper connection to Self or find they are unable to let go of thoughts and/or feelings tend to find it most helpful of all. In meditation we learn to appreciate that we have a mind, but it is not who we are. Unlike Mind Detox or coaching, we are not looking to change our mind, simply our relationship to it. And unlike counselling, we are not looking to talk out our problems, instead letting them go knowing we do not need to hold on to the content. By doing so, our mind has far less influence over us and we become more connected to the wisdom of our whole body. Many find the benefits of meditation is an increased awareness of life and clarity of body, mind and soul.
Which one when?
It can be tricky to know which technique you need when, so here’s a little breakdown to help.
Counselling is great when you just want to talk and have someone listen and help you problem solve your challenge yourself. A counsellor will be a strong and supportive person that see’s you as whole and capable, and will believe in your abilities and skills to create your own solutions.
Psychotherapy is great when you want to talk about your problems and find out where they are coming from. Psychotherapy mixes counselling skills with the ability to look at how the past shapes your present and can help you to develop strategies to cope. This is useful when you want to learn new ways to deal with a problem and let go of difficult feelings from the past.
Coaching is great when you want to achieve a goal. Coaches will help you to create a goal/goals and a framework to complete them within, so you can achieve, even when they seem a bit scary. It is a positive, forward focusing activity that draws on your existing skills and talents and facilitates you learning new ones.
Mind Detox is great when you know or suspect something in your past is responsible for the problem you are experiencing in the present. A Mind Detox practitioner will help you discover and resolve the thought process and emotion behind your behavioural or health problem, without having to go into the whole story. Those that like Mind Detox do so because it is very quick to get to the core of the issue, has a positive forward focus of getting well, and goes back only to remove the issues that hold you back. A counsellor, coach, health professional or meditation teacher may refer someone to a Mind Detox practitioner to remove a psychological block that is preventing them from moving forwards.
Meditation is something I would recommend people do at least once a day on a daily basis as part of a positive health care programme. It is a choice to purposefully rest the mind, (which reduces stress levels) and helps us to develop a strong sense of our true self. Different types of meditation have different benefits, with some being stronger at bringing mental clarity and letting go of old beliefs, whilst others help us become loving and accepting of our current circumstances and others develop a stronger connection to our spiritual side. A balanced meditation practice will do all three as well as allow us to pause and make choices from a place of love before we respond to stimulus. Meditation may help us clear old trauma simply through us becoming unattached from and letting go of thoughts and beliefs that no longer support us. Meditation does not however, help us to change our thoughts, which is the domain of psychotherapy, coaching and Mind Detox.
I hope the above goes some way to explaining the differences, which can be confusing to those first starting out exploring mental health. It may also throw light on where a different approach to the one you are currently taking may be helpful – for example, learning to meditate to help with anxious thoughts, rather than trying to change every anxious thought we have – or moving from counselling to coaching to achieve a particular outcome. The most important thing to do is to discuss what you want to get out of a session or sessions with your potential counsellor, therapist or coach. You need to make sure you are confident they understand your challenges, what you want to accomplish and they have the necessary skills and experience for the challenge you bring. In my experience, it is important to find someone you can trust and with whom you have a good relationship, so you can relax into the process and know you are taken care of.