Business owners ‘turning to counsellors’: Belfast Telegraph

Posted on January 20, 2010 · Posted in Belfast Telegraph

 Owners of struggling businesses and badly performing investments have turned to stress counselling to get them through the recession. Londonderry stress management counsellor Gerry McCanny reports an increase of 60% to 70% in business people seeking his help.

It’s people who might not want to see themselves as vulnerable,” explains McCanny. “They need a special environment to begin to talk about their feelings, for example if their business is about to go bust. A lot of them are men who are not very good talking about their feelings – which gets in the way of planning their next steps, which blocks the problem-solving process.

A lot are feeling increased stress. Perhaps they are laying-off a lot of staff, or there are difficulties in a business relationship.” Many others, says McCanny, are feeling the pinch from failed property investments, leading to difficulties in personal relationships, with some turning to drink.

The biggest increase is from people coming from the business sector, perhaps a rise of 60% to 70%,” adds McCanny. As well as helping tough skinned businessmen from getting in touch with their inner emotions, McCanny can also help them adopt a more rational approach to working their way out of their crisis. “They can then work their way through their situation by maybe restructuring or downsizing or taking a more realistic approach,” he says.

McCanny, who is accredited by the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, also helps by teaching his clients anger management and breathing techniques to help them cope with stress. Another approach is to encourage clients to describe their situations in writing, to help them see more objectively their problems, strengths and weaknesses.

For those who need practical assistance, professional business support is available through Invest NI, which can be accessed by using its advice helpline on 0800 027 0639. Invest NI said that it did not hold figures for the numbers of firms seeking crisis support, but that there had been greater than expected interest from the public in starting new businesses during the recession.