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Let me ask you, this time next year, do you want your life to be the same? Most of us would answer no. It is inherently within us all to push forward, to strive for something better.

I strongly believe self-development plays a crucial role in improving our lives. Counselling is the ultimate voyage of self-discovery, where things suddenly start to make sense. It’s wonderful to be alongside people when they have those “light bulb” moments and I would be a rich woman if I had a pound for every time a client has said, “Do you know what, I wish I’d done this years ago”.

A journey of discovery 

For those of you who have been to counselling with me or watched a video, you will notice a piano sits in my counselling room.

I played the piano from the age of 8 to 18 years old but after going to University, I stopped playing. Mainly because I no longer met with a piano teacher and my parents got rid of the family piano. Playing the piano was a huge part of my childhood. It gave me a place of peace and joy during difficult times.

Ten years ago I picked up a piano on freecycle with the view to get it tuned and start some lessons. And I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear , that up until September last year, that still had not happened.

Why? Here are the reasons which I am sure you will agree, they are pretty much universal objections.

  • I don’t have time.
  • We can’t afford it.
  • It feels indulgent to spend money on a hobby.
  • It’s going to be too much like hard work.
  • Will a piano teacher judge me?

It turns out I do have time and we have been able to afford it. And I can say with absolute authority, nothing about it feels indulgent. I have had the most wonderful journey of re-discovery and I honestly cannot believe I ever allowed myself to be without the piano for the last 23 years. I have fallen in love with playing music all over again. It is so very calming and there are moments where I get lost, transported to another place. For me it is the ultimate meditative experience.

Gemma Antcliffe sitting in front of the piano

And yes, you have guessed it, I have found myself saying “I wish I had started playing again years ago”.

Now, I will level with you, it does sometimes feel like hard work. I have forgotten so many things and sometimes working out note patterns makes my brain hurt. But it’s like anything, if you put the work in you will make progress. It is amazing how suddenly, a tricky section will click.

As for my piano teacher, I have found the most understanding, gentle, encouraging, and patient man. I genuinely feel he is cheering me on every step of the way. I can be vulnerable, make mistakes in front of him and ask what might sound like stupid questions. I never feel judged.

Starting counselling and the objections that get in the way.

Reflecting upon my journey of re-discovering the piano, I find myself drawing many comparisons with someone coming for counselling. Many of the objections or barriers to starting are the same:

  • I don’t have the money/ I should be spending the money on other things.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • It feels like a self-indulgent thing to do.
  • My problems are small fry compared to others.
  • I don’t want to burden someone else with my problems.
  • I’m worried about “lifting the lid” on painful experiences.
  • The counsellor will judge me if I share my secrets or show who I really am.
  • There is no hope for me.

I have so much to say in answer to these objectives but instead I will summarise.

You have a choice.

We all deserve to be happy. Many of us walk around carrying pain from trauma; trauma which has often been done to us. It is not your fault, but you have a choice as to whether you choose to continue carrying the trauma with you.

There are no “top trumps” when it comes to pain

Whilst it can be a real leveller to know we are not the only one with problems, you cannot compare. Yes, there is always someone out there who has it worse than you, but that does not mean your experiences are any less painful or valid.

Being a burden

So many people say they value being able to tell me things without worrying about my feelings. They often say this in a sheepish manner but whenever I hear this, my heart leaps with joy. It tells me they have truly engaged in the process and let themselves go. For many people this is quite a unique experience, especially if you are a people pleaser and feel responsible for other peoples feelings.

Feeling judged.

As a counsellor it is my job to give you the opportunity to open up in a way which makes you feel safe. People often come to counselling because they have experienced judgement in some way which may have impacted on their ability to trust others.

As someone who has also experienced judgement in my life, I understand how damaging it can be and it is my hope that no one would ever feel judged by me in the counselling room.

There is always hope.

Even in the most difficult or challenging of times, things will get better. And I can assure you I will be with you every step of the way.

2 trainers with the message "There is always hope"

It is never too late.

Most importantly remember, it is never too late. Just like my experience re-connecting with the piano, you will probably come to counselling and wish you had done it years ago.  But perhaps like me with the piano, the timing just was not quite right.

If now is the time and you are ready, I am here for you. I offer morning and evening appointments in person and online. You are welcome to contact me via my website for more information about how you can get started.