Addictions and compulsive behaviours can manifest in many ways; for example, through the use of alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking and sex. There are also compulsive behaviours relating to cleaning, ‘checking’ activities and physical compulsions such as picking skin or hair, nail-biting and self-harm, for example, by cutting or scratching.
Sometimes people believe they don’t need or ‘deserve’ help, because they feel like they are managing their issues and are still able to lead a ‘normal’ life. But if these behaviours are making you unhappy or are preventing you from fully leading the life you want to lead, then counselling can help. The aim of counselling is to provide a safe space where you can really explore what lies underneath these issues and begin to understand the behaviours. Issues can be ‘well-managed’ and a person can seem happy and fulfilled, but all the while their private habits, compulsions and addictions are having a major impact on their happiness and fulfilment.
Specialised clinical settings are needed in order to manage the most severe effects of drug and alcohol use. But where people have already taken the first steps towards recovery, ongoing support and regular therapy can help them to maintain their physical and mental health and continue to improve their lives. It can feel very difficult to manage the challenges and strains of everyday life whilst avoiding recourse to old and familiar methods of escape and comfort, and this can be a life-long challenge. Therapy can provide the emotional strength to meet this challenge.