When people ask “so what is counselling?” I say, for me, counselling is about creating the conditions where a client feels safe and supported enough to bravely turn and interact with their emotions from a position of curiosity rather than a position of fear or dread, and thereby gain understanding, rather than trying to outrun them, hide from them or deny them.
What do I mean by this? Well, if a friend was angry rather than ignore it or leg it we’d probably make them a cuppa, sit them down and say “okay, okay, what’s got you so worked up and angry, what’s this all about, what is going on?” Clients and I work to get to the point where they feel safe to do the same with their anger or fear or procrastination or anxiety or defensiveness or insecurity or whatever it is.
Take Procrastination for example. When Procrastination comes and plonks themself down next to me and starts suggesting I go and put the kettle on or do the ironing ( I would rather have root canal work without anesthetic than do my ironing) or a thousand other things rather than start that email, write that letter or fill in that application form I metaphorically turn to look at my Procrastination and say “OK my friend, you’ve got my attention now, go on, what is this all about, what is going on here please, what are you trying to protect me from? what are you worried will happen if I do this thing?”
Once I have some insight into that I can disperse, mitigate or allow myself to accept I am worried that it won’t be goodenough or x or y or z or whatever, reassure myself it WON’T be goodenough because the first draft of anything is always terrible (that’s why we have first drafts), that the only thing worse than doing this thing now is doing it later as by then I’ll be up against the pressure of a deadline (and my student days taught me I’m NOT at my best at 23:59, tearful and snotty) plus, hey hey mate, I always get there in the end.
Now, if you were to come to me as a client please rest assured we build up slowly to conversing with the emotions we find have us shying away when they turn up. We don’t just going charging in like a bull into a china shop because those defences of numbing, denial and repressing emotion were put up by a younger you for what you considered to be a very good reason at that time. We don’t want to be going over the top of these defences when we don’t fully know what they were put up to keep out……or keep in…….however enough for now, bite size chunks “graduation” is a subject for another blog entry.
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