Mental Health and Therapeutic Support (Counselling / Psychotherapy)
What is Mental Health?
The definition of mental health is a state of well-being where you can:
Having good mental health is as important as good physical health.
We all belong on the mental health spectrum, where we can slide from one end of the spectrum of good mental health towards the other end of the spectrum of having a diagnosable mental health condition. Being on the mental health spectrum means that our state of well-being is not fixed and our mental health state can change over time, through different stages of life or due to difficult experiences or situations.
Mental health issues can occur through everyday experiences, such as stress, anxiety or depression through to long-term diagnosed mental health conditions.
Having a mental health issue is very common.
1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem every year.
20% of young people experience a mental health problem every year.
Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental health problem in the UK.
4-10% of people in England will experience depression during their lifetime.
Muslim Mental Health
The stigma surrounding mental health can stop people from speaking up or getting the help or support they need. This can be due to a fear or worry of other people’s reactions if they disclose they are suffering a mental health issue or even if they express how they are feeling. A lot of work is being done by mental health professionals, charities and campaigns to end the stigma of mental health.
Here at the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network (MCAPN) we aim to help end the stigma by talking openly about mental health. To acknowledge and recognise that we all have mental health and anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or religion can suffer from a mental health problem.
By uniting the Muslim therapeutic community of Muslim counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and psychologists, we aim to illustrate that mental health does occur within Muslim communities and to break down the barriers of mental health and in accessing therapeutic support (counselling/ therapy) for people to get the help they need.
What is Counselling?
Counselling and psychotherapy is a process by which a client and counsellor meet in a safe, private and confidential space, to explore any difficulty or distress the client may be going through. The process will help you to explore, understand and find insight into your difficulty, feelings and/or sense of self. Through this exploration it can help you to make choices or decisions for yourself with greater knowledge and understanding of you and your situation.
Issues, which bring clients to counselling (also known as presenting problems) can include anxiety, abuse, bereavement, depression, domestic violence, eating disorders, family conflicts, loss, relationship/ marriage problems, personal development, PTSD, redundancy, self-esteem, self-harm, stress, trauma and many more.
A counsellor/ therapist is a professional who is trained to support and listen to you, to be by your side, as you together explore and process your issue.
Counselling is not about:
How do I find or choose a counsellor/therapist?
When it comes to accessing counselling, it is important to find the right counsellor for you. This is a very individual choice, as what may suit you may not be suitable for another client.
The other reason that finding the right match of counsellor is important is because research has shown that the most effective factor in counselling is the therapeutic relationship (i.e. having a good rapport between client and counsellor and where the client feels safe).
You can find a Muslim counsellor / therapist or Islamic Counselling service on our Counselling Directory.
This includes both face to face counselling in the UK and online counselling for clients based in the UK and internationally.
1. Qualifications/ Training – Any professional and qualified counsellor/ psychotherapist will be able to show you their qualifications and explain what training they have had. If you are unsure of their training (if not listed on their website or directory listing), you can ask them directly upon enquiry.
2. Registration with a professional body – It is not a legal requirement, however many qualified counsellors/ therapists are registered with a counselling professional such as the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy) or NCS (National Counselling Society). A counsellor will be able to show you their registration or direct you to their professional body’s online therapist register.
3. Modality of counselling – counsellors/ therapists train in a particular modality (theory) of counselling. Some you may have heard of ones such as CBT, Psychodynamic or Person-centred. It may be important to you which modality you might want to work with but it’s equally ok if you don’t know. It may be a question you might want to ask on enquiry (i.e. what modality do you work with/ how do you work with clients?)
4. Islamic Counselling – this is a particular modality of counselling, which is becoming more widely available. Some Muslim clients look for a counsellor who offers Islamic Counselling, as they feel it is a more applicable therapeutic method of working through their concerns, as it holistically works with the client’s whole ‘self’ including their spiritual/religious well-being and works with a model of ‘self’ which is based upon the Quran and traditional Islamic writing. Islamic Counselling therefore may be a factor which you consider when choosing a counsellor.
5. Therapeutic Relationship – regardless of modality, it is more important that you can build a good therapeutic relationship with your counsellor/ therapist, where you feel safe and comfortable with your counsellor/therapist to talk about your concerns or difficulties, where you feel heard and understood.
6. The first session – this is an opportunity for you to check out your counsellor and to feel if you would be able to build a good therapeutic relationship with them. You have no obligation after the first session to stay with this counsellor. It is a chance for you to see how you feel working with them in a therapeutic setting – do you feel safe and comfortable? Do you feel they are really listening and trying to understand you? Go with your gut instinct or feeling – if you feel the match is not right then don’t feel you have to stay with this particular counsellor. You are welcome to find one where you do feel it is a good match.
7. Confidentiality – counselling takes place within a confidential space and everything discussed between you and your counsellor is kept confidential (except where the counsellor feels there is a risk of harm to you or a minor and even in these circumstances this is always discussed first between counsellor and client as to how to manage the situation). Counsellors understand that a client may have some concern around confidentiality, particularly when they are seeing a counselling within their local area or community. However, as a trained professional, your counsellor will not break that confidentiality or acknowledge that you are seeing them outside of your sessions. This can include times such as if you unexpectedly bump into your counsellor at the local supermarket, mosque or school gates, your counsellor will not acknowledge you or initiate a ‘hello’ and therefore will not identity you as their client.
8. Online counselling – online counselling can be a more practical option for you, if work irregular hours or unable to access a counsellor locally (due to travel limitations, physical limitations/ disabilities, choice of counsellor). It is important that if you do choose online counselling that you find a counsellor who is trained in online counselling, as it is an additional specialist skill requiring training. You can always verify with a professional counsellor, who offers online counsellor, what their online counselling training/ qualification is. Online counselling can be offered via email, Skype (video/audio/instant messaging) or telephone. For a qualified online counsellor, they will be able to explain how they work with these different online methods and what the steps are to access online counselling.
9. Specialist training/experience – it may be that you are looking to access counselling to work through a particular issue. You may wish to find a counsellor who has experience of working with or specialist/additional training in that particular issue. This is sometime listed on a counsellor’s website/ directory listing or you can ask of their experience/training upon enquiry.
10. Individual Preferences – you may want to think about your preferences in choice of counsellor. Would you like a male or female counsellor? Do you want a counsellor of a particular race, ethnicity, culture and/or religion? These choices may have an impact upon how you feel in the therapeutic relationship and as mentioned above, it is important for you to feel you have a good match with your counsellor.
11. Finding a Counsellor/ Therapist: Finding a counsellor can seem overwhelming. Hopefully the above points will help you to identify what to look for in a counsellor’s profile/website to let you know if you would like to arrange an initial session with them. At the Muslim Counsellor and Psychotherapist Network we have our own Counselling Directory. All practitioners listed are qualified and registered with a professional body. Each counsellor profile lists their location, qualifications/ training, therapeutic modalities, client groups they work with, the issues they work with, alongside working hours and fees.
You can search the Counselling Directory to find the right counsellor for you. Choose from Muslim Counsellors and Islamic Counselling Services across the UK, including London, Leicester, Birmingham and Manchester and online counselling services.