When someone asks of counselling, ‘Will it work?’, I’m struck by both the richness and impossibility of the question. Investing in time, courage, commitment to counselling is a big step. Understandably, we want to have some certainty that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that change is possible if we are going to bare our soul.
Many counsellors go through extensive training over many years to be able to work with clients. Depending on the approach, they will have learnt different techniques and tools to work with their clients to help them through their difficulties. The basics remain pretty much universal, however, whether the approach is humanistic or not: empathy, unconditional positive regard, congruence are all the foundations on which effective counselling is built.
At the core of the healing is the therapeutic relationship. Humans are social animals and the quality of our lives is often determined by the quality of our relationships from our formative years through to adulthood.
The basis of a good enough counselling relationship is just the same: a safe, healthy, adult relationship which allows the pain and hurt to be expressed, witnessed, held non-judgmentally in order to support a healing process within.
In Psychosynthesis counselling our underlying assumption is that expressing pain is also a call to feel better. We ask, why is this pain being expressed now? What is trying to emerge from it? What part of this person is calling out to be healed? Holding the potential for change, for healthiness as well as being engaged with and present for our clients’ pain is at the core of how we work. In essence, we support the possibility of change by trusting our clients have the inner resources and potential to heal themselves, a kind of inner wisdom and knowing.
In that sense, counselling is not an activity that is ‘done to’ you. It’s an act of commitment to oneself, in which our appetite for that work and ability to feel safe in it, is one of the biggest indicators of how long it will take and whether it will be successful. Taking the first step requires a lot of courage, and often happens when the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of change.
If you’ve got to that point and would like a safe space to explore what’s difficult in your life, why not get in touch?
By Matt Fox – www.mattfoxcounselling.co.uk – Counselling in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott
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