Counselling for confidence issues (Chiswick Practice)
This case study has been written with express permission from the client
MD was a 35 year old man who came to our Chiswick practice for counselling for help with confidence issues. He reported that he had always lacked in confidence for as long as he could remember and believed that it was now holding him back both in his work life, in friendships and romantic relationships. MD was also quite overweight and suffered from a rare condition of the brain which affected his balance. On a scale of 1 to 10, to 1 being no confident and 10 being supremely confident, MD placed himself between 3 and 4.
MD reported that he had very little memory before the age of 10 and so it was very hard for him to identify any early experiences which may have affected his confidence. This lack of early memory could indicate some deeply traumatic experiences had occurred in his childhood or it may simply be a result of his medical condition.
As the sessions progressed, MD focused on his secondary school days. Until his medical condition was diagnosed a few years ago, MD had always believed himself to just be clumsy and uncoordinated. This led to him feeling shamed and inadequate. Bullying was common place and added to his low sense of self-esteem. In our counselling sessions, MD came to realise how powerful those negative thoughts, beliefs and actions were and how they impacted on him during adolescence. He also realised that he received very little support or encouragement at home during this time, especially when compared to his older "favoured" sister. MD felt safe enough in our therapy sessions to explore his feelings and thought processes in depth, allowing him to begin to accept what had happened in the past and to begin to feel compassion for himself, rather than shame and blame which had been a big part of his past.
We explored the concept of being an introvert. MD had always associated being introverted with being shy and had encountered many situations where people told him he needed to "come out of his shell". MD slowly began to realise that being introverted had many advantages and was actually just as good (albeit different) to being an extrovert. He began to notice that many of the people who wanted him to "come out of his shell" appeared to be having difficulties reconciling what they wanted with what society expected which was leading them to experience their own forms of anxiety. He realised that they were then projecting their own anxieties onto him. The awareness that other peoples behaviours were a result of their own issues rather than anything he had done helped him to develop coping mechanisms for dealing with these people.
In the later sessions, we began to focus on his experiences at work, which appeared to be reinforcing old beliefs of being inadequate and having no value. We introduced some behavioural techniques which allowed him to learn from any mistakes and treat them as a positive experience rather than things for which he had to pile blame and shame upon himself. We also focused on why other people at work reacted the way they did, so he could allow himself to feel understanding and compassion towards them, rather than believing everything was his fault as he had done in the past.
By the end of our 14 counselling sessions, MD rated his confidence levels now between 6 and 7 out of 10, which was a huge improvement. He believed he had the ability and skills to increase his confidence even further if he wished, but currently he was happy where he was. MD was delighted at the outcome of his therapy sessions and was looking forward to new and positive possibilities in the future.
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