Riverside has helped thousands of individuals over the last 35 years, with widely varying needs.

Philippa (not her real name) is indebted to Riverside for the counselling she received following postnatal depression. You can read her story below:

Philippa first reached out to Riverside Counselling Service several years ago after getting post-natal depression after the birth of her second child.

Philippa said, “I had been in therapy in the past but had stopped due to the costs and also I didn’t feel I wanted to continue with it. I had post-natal depression after both my children were born. I found out about Riverside after a doctor friend told me about them. I hadn’t heard about them before then. After having my second child, I became a compulsive spender and got seriously into debt. I bought lots of clothes, spent money on online courses and other things, I can’t even remember what I spent the money on, and I don’t now have anything of any value to show for it. I had a feeling of not being good enough and I thought if I just bought this next thing, it would fix me.”

Riverside offered Philippa counselling once a week for a year, unlike the NHS which offers just six weeks. Philippa commented, “You can go to the doctors who can offer medication and/or six weeks of counselling or CBT. Medication can be helpful, it has helped me, however talking therapies actually do more, and create more rounded human beings. I think that so many physical illnesses could be avoided if mental health was addressed first. Six weeks of counselling is OK if you’re dealing with something that is temporary. If you are dealing with life-long patterns, childhood trauma or are emotionally wounded, six weeks of counselling is just like blowing on a cut – pointless almost. It’s not helpful and doesn’t do much. It’s been great having longer term counselling with Riverside as there is not the pressure of it ending after six weeks, there is time to build a relationship with a counsellor. The person I saw was a counsellor and psychotherapist who really understood patterns, how our past experiences link to how we are now, which was amazing.”

After starting her weekly sessions at Riverside, Philippa started to build a relationship with her counsellor. Philippa said, “My Counsellor is really professional, and she actively listens. She’s nothing like me, we’re different ages, I don’t know much about her, but she knows me better than anyone else. She was a stranger when I first met. I made the choice to tell her everything, I learnt to trust her, and I made the choice to continue seeing her. She is a big part of my life. The best part of having counselling is having somebody, one hour per week, that you can take all your stuff to, in a safe space, knowing that you are not going to be judged, and to be able to express fears that you might have about yourself.”

Talking therapy needs commitment and that was the hardest part for Philippa. She explains “The hardest part was carving out the time to give to yourself. We’re taught that we should be able to cope and that we shouldn’t need to get help, even asking for help can be seen by others as a sign of weakness, but it isn’t. Committing to being in therapy can feel a lot and giving yourself that gift can sometimes be really hard.”

After completing the Riverside course of sessions, Philippa said she had gained a massive amount of self- knowledge. She comments, “The counselling improved my relationship with my husband, improved my parenting ability and my ability to help my children emotionally regulate. I am calmer with the children now whereas before, when there was problem with their behaviour, it triggered me, and my childhood memories. I realised that I was repeating patterns from my childhood, recognising this, that I was putting my issues onto my children has made a massive difference to the whole family, especially my children. They are the most important little humans in my world, and I shouldn’t pass on the bad stuff I experienced when I was young. I am able to do things differently now and that has made a big difference to the whole family. It has also given me an understanding of my own parents and improved my relationship with them.”

From making contact with Riverside and the counselling she received, Philippa said “The service was very swift. From making contact to getting my first appointment was really quick and easy. I would
100% recommend it to anyone struggling with life and mental health. It’s an amazing resource, I don’t know of any other service like it.” What would Philippa say to others considering counselling? “I would say go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose by going and you have so much to gain if you can let yourself. The longer you keep putting it off the harder it will be when you finally do it. You’re just wasting your time on this earth.” As Philippa has shown life can be so much better. As she says, “People make time to watch their favourite programme or make time to do their online shopping, I found time to overspend! Making time to attend counselling can be a real-life changer.”