Loneliness is a very common human experience and different people experience different levels of it, with differing causes and effects. Loneliness can eventually lead to anxiety and depression and cause low self-esteem, lowered self-confidence, stress, and social issues. But it does not have to be a permanent negative state and should not be viewed as a defect. With the help of a counsellor, a client can explore and understand their loneliness and other related issues, then identify and take steps needed to address it.
A counsellor can advise clients on how to better their self-esteem and help them learn to accept themselves. To build and maintain self-confidence and overcome the fear of being alone or rejected, it is crucial for a client to learn how to independently create their own happiness. If the client does not have the belief that they can create their own happiness, then they will remain lacking in confidence and too reliant on others.
Loneliness can create a self-perpetuating cycle. The lonelier a client feels, the harder it is to get them commit to change and break out of their loneliness. It can require real effort and commitment to start moving from their feelings of loneliness, as it does with changing any pattern of behaviour. A counsellor helps break the cycle of loneliness by helping the client find its cause, then identifies any dysfunctional habits used to deal with it, such as hiding away and alcohol. Some things counsellors should consider when dealing with lonely clients:
- Impress on the client something that may seem obvious but needs to be understood, and that is that everyone becomes lonely at some points in their life. It should always be remembered by clients that loneliness is common especially in times of change and transition.
- Encourage them to get together with people they know and anyone they assess as genuine. Trusting and acting on their instincts about people is important.
- Teach the client how to view their detachment and recognise the difference between loneliness and solitude.
It can also be worthwhile to recommend small group counselling so that clients can see first-hand how others suffer similar difficulties to them. This can also offer them a support network and provide more knowledge and insight.