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Why going to counselling in my teens worked wonders for my mental health

Generation Tribe co-founder Bex Bastable shares her experience with counselling in her teens.

I started counselling when I was 17. I was studying at sixth form and it was about a year after my parents split up.

At the time, I also had quite low self-esteem and suffered with anxiety and panic attacks.

I can’t remember how I came to start counselling sessions but I know it wasn’t what I expected at all.

Digging deeper

Sometimes I’d sit in silence for the first five or ten minutes, but eventually, my counsellor would draw me out.

As well as talking (a lot), I had to draw pictures to express my feelings and also use a sandpit – which did feel a bit strange.

But it was things like this that sparked my creativity. It made me start digging a bit deeper about how I was feeling and why I was feeling it.

Low self-esteem

One thing that really stands out for me is when I was trying to explain my self-esteem issues. I’d always felt a bit ‘less than’ at school. Not as pretty, or clever or as funny as some of my peers.

I explained it in the form of cars. I said I feel like an old banger, but others are like sports cars.

We explored my feelings around my self-esteem in the form of cars, and it was such a bizarre metaphor that I remember laughing a lot about it, and really exploring what that meant.

In the end, I realised that it didn’t really matter how others saw me – if they saw the old banger or the sports car – but it was my own perception that mattered the most.

My counsellor actually bought a model of an old banger on our last session and I still have it to this day.

I spent about three months in counselling and it really helped me to straighten out my feelings on my parents’ divorce, my self-esteem, anxiety and general teenage angst.

There’s a lot of shame around going to counselling and I know that some people feel like they aren’t ready to open up. But if you are struggling it really is a great way to understand the way you are feeling and even come to terms with why you feel that way.

Useful links

Find out more about counselling at the YoungMinds website.

Check out Fearne Cotton’s podcast The Happy Place if you need a lift.

Read more on Generation Tribe on coping with panic attacks, dealing with grief and why it’s ok not to be ok.

Bex Bastable
Bex Bastablehttp://bexbastable.co.uk
Bex is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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