Coping with Time away from Counselling at Christmas
For many people and for various reasons, Christmas can be an unexpectedly lonely time of year. For those who have been seeing a counsellor, taking a break from counselling over Christmas can be the cause of feelings of loneliness.
How do you react when your counsellor announces that for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year they won’t be available for you at your regular appointments?
Reactions can vary for a number of reasons of course. Yet noticing and becoming aware of your reactions to this break in your counselling may actually be helpful once you return to it after Christmas, and for your life. These reactions may be familiar, you may see a pattern or theme in the reactions you have, or indeed they may be totally unexpected and come as something of a shock to you.
To help with this awareness, highlighted below are some common reactions to this interruption to your counselling as well suggestions of some possible meanings to these reactions and ways to reflect on them:
For some people, counselling can feel like hard work. Painful feelings can emerge and talking about difficult situations can feel hard. So the prospect of a break from weekly, or regular, counselling sessions can feel like a relief. If it does feel this way, it might be useful to think more deeply about how counselling is going for you. Is the pace of it helping or would you like that to change? What about your relationship with your counsellor? Is that OK? Is there anything you feel you need to talk to them about?
Perhaps it doesn’t really matter to you one way or the other if you have a break from counselling over the Christmas and New Year period. Having this reaction may be an indication that counselling isn’t making a difference to you. In such a case it may be useful to reflect on why you sought counselling in the first place, or, perhaps, whether you feel your counsellor is understanding why you came? If this is the case, how do you feel about your counsellor? Have your feelings about the counselling or your counsellor prevented you from talking about something important?
You feel angry about the disruption to the working through of issues in counselling. In this case, it might be useful to reflect on how you generally cope with disappointments, and perhaps what it is that you feel you will be missing during the festive break.
Perhaps being unable to meet with your counsellor during the break feels traumatic. Perhaps the relationship and regular meetings with your counsellor have become an important part of your week. You rely on your counsellor for support. It is perhaps the most significant relationship you have, and even if not, it helps you cope with difficult feelings or situations. A familiar sense of abandonment may surface. You might feel rejected or not important to your counsellor. You may fear that your counsellor is permanently ending your counselling, that they won’t want you to come back.
Having this break can perhaps be an opportunity to work on some of the things you have been exploring in counselling and it can also help you look beyond the relationship with your counsellor (as it will be necessary one day to do) and to look at other tools, resources and relationships which can feel supportive for you.
In essence, the questions here are about how you can soothe yourself during this time and how can you take something from this break which you can be useful for your counselling when you return in the new year.
Essentially, whether welcome or unwelcome, a break from counselling at this time of year can offer space to reflect on how the counselling is going and what might be useful and important to address in the next phase.
In addition, while the Christmas break may feel like being left alone, it also may provide opportunities to work through issues such as disappointment, frustration, separation and abandonment. Yet comfort can be taken from the fact that the break is only temporary.
Counselling can resume again in the new year and may feel even more helpful than it was previously with the experience of this temporary break to draw on.
Sally Edwards Counselling
I am a fully qualified counsellor based in Orpington, Kent
I work with clients with problems including: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, stress, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, identity issues, relationship problems, self-destructive behaviours, self-harm, childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence, domestic violence, domestic abuse, trauma, PTSD, eating disorders and body image problems.
I am easily accessible from local areas near me including Orpington, Bromley, Chislehurst, Petts Wood, Sidcup, Beckenham, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Knockholt, West Wickham, Chelsfield, Swanley and Bexley
Face-to-face in person or online counselling