Counselling for the Corporate World

How Counselling Can Help Workplace Stress

Have you ever fallen victim to your own ambition? Where you strive so hard to achieve your ambitious personal goals, that you end up destroying everything else in the path on the way? Relationships, friendships, family, hobbies, time for self-care. If we use all of our energy on our jobs and have none left for these other important parts of life, can we really be happy, or fulfilled?

Having had a career in the corporate world for 10 years, I personally know what it's like to lose sense of what your priorities are in life. As I climbed the ladder, further and further up, I had tunnel vision and only one thing mattered to me - promotions i.e. Money. Along with promotions came a strong sense of pride and achievement which became almost as important to me as the money. I thought I had everything I could ever want. 

From the outside looking in, I was successful so that must mean I was happy, right? Even I had convinced myself that was the case. How wrong I was. I was miserable. Stressed. Anxious. Burnt out. And I had no energy left to enjoy anything outside of work. I would spend every Sunday dreading the impending Monday morning and could never be fully present in my weekend activities as a result. But it only took me going completely cold turkey and leaving that whole world behind (due to having a baby), to realise the impact my job was truly having on me.

I'm not saying don't be ambitious (I definitely still am!). I'm not saying don't work hard for your goals. But there has to be a limit, doesn't there? It's about assessing your priorities, regularly. And I think 'regularly' is the key word here, because it's easy to get swept up working towards what you think your priorities are, but we are human. We change. Our priorities change, sometimes without us even realising.

It can be easy to think we have failed, if we suddenly change course and decide to go for something different, which might mean missing that promotion or taking a pay cut to do something else. But if that 'something else' ignites a spark and passion within us, or stops us from experiencing burnout, or just simply makes us happy.... surely that's what it's all about, isn't it!?

You might be thinking, "What on earth has this got to do with counselling?" Well, counselling can certainly be a direct help for dealing with workplace stress! Counselling is for corporates too! In the counselling room, you are given a safe space to share whatever you're feeling, without your boss breathing down your neck or making the (probably incorrect) judgement that you aren't coping with the workload they are putting on you. You can be listened to - truly, actively listened to. 

Not by someone who is just listening to respond and wants to butt in with their corporate agenda at the earliest opportunity. Not by someone who will think 'Ok, I can tick that off my to do list now I've listened to my staff member, and now it's back to business as usual' with the expectation that you bottle all your feelings up again for a while and just crack on with your work. In the counselling room, you will be listened to, and more importantly, you will be heard. Without judgement, or other agendas.


I remember working with a client who was a Teacher. They spent our sessions talking about work, every single week. I remember wondering if they wanted to talk about something 'deeper', and questioned, 'What are they really here for?' because I felt like I couldn't possibly be helping them, and ethically I didn't want their time or money to be wasted! But then it dawned on me that this was it! 

Their workplace stress was affecting every single aspect of their life - their anxiety, relationships and work-life balance. It was causing insomnia, and they felt physically sick each night at the thought of going to work again the next day. This teacher's stress also manifested itself physically, being constantly ill (a sign of burnout). They told me that talking about it in our sessions really helped; that it lifted a weight from their shoulders and equipped them with a more positive mindset to go back and do it all again tomorrow.

More importantly though, our sessions enabled a reflection on priorities. If they were feeling like this every day, were they working in the right school or should they look for somewhere new? Were they even in the right career if it was making them this unhappy? Prior to our sessions, there was no headspace or time to reflect on these questions, but by being given the space to do so, slowly but surely, some assertive decisions began to be made, and big life choices. 

Counselling changed everything for them. And it could for you, too! Whether you are a senior manager trying to cope with the demands and pressures of being at the top, or an employee who is feeling unhappy in your workplace, then talking about your feelings in the counselling room may just help you to decide what your priorities are, and help you on the way to finding happiness in your workplace. 

Of course, a successful career and a high level of responsibility, is bound to be accompanied by some level of stress. And of course, sometimes there is a place for stress and pressure, as it can help to motivate you to get things done efficiently and to your best ability. However, we only get one life and I truly believe there is no point spending it feeling unhappy, or continuously stressed at work. You won't get that precious time back.

Counselling can help you to process and cope with feelings of anxiety and stress caused within the workplace. But more importantly, it can help you to reflect, prioritise and move forward in your life, in a direction that feels right for you. 


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