Loneliness is the theme of this years mental health awareness week. As a counsellor I hear how my
clients experience of loneliness can affect their mental health. Sometimes clients are aware of this
and sometimes not and can attribute their feelings to anxiety.
This of course makes sense as when our very being is threatened because we are disconnected from
others, on a primal level our bodies will communicate a powerful message about threat and survival
and being on our own.
I often explore the roots of client’s loneliness and how they have coped with this. Taking time to
become more aware has been the gateway for change enabling clients to feel more connected.
Becoming more aware of how we experience loneliness can help us understand our actions and
behaviours when we interact with others.
On my journey with clients I have learned from them how defensiveness can play out, anger and
aggression, unhelpful obsessive behaviours and addiction are some of the ways in which they learn
to respond to loneliness, enabling their survival.
It’s important to know though that being alone and loneliness are very different things. Being on
your own, alone time can be very powerful and create a healing space, in contrast to loneliness
which can be experienced as, fear, anxiousness, depression, isolation and a sense of emptiness and
being lost and confused.
It is well researched that loneliness can be experienced by clients even when they are in a room full
of people and in families which are seemingly very happy and stable. This is how we know that there
is more than the societal view of what loneliness looks like. The stigma attached to loneliness
prevents people talking about it, which leaves them further isolated.
The good news is with the support of a counsellor clients can learn to understand more about what
is happening and why. At North Birmingham Counselling Service, we offer a safe space for clients to
explore thoughts and feelings along with patterns of behaviour which can threaten relationships and
connection. We take our time to explore inner dialogue and how this can shape our view of who we
are and how this contributes to feeling lonely. For further help and support get in touch with our
counsellors at nbcs.uk.