One of the themes to emerge from this busy day of connections, achievements and insights has been the choice of practitioners to become compassionate in what they do. In several discussions today it became clear that most people experience the practitioners they encounter as somewhat detached, even non-involved, in the outcomes of their work with people. Having trained as a person-centred counsellor many years before my spiritual journey became the focus of my life I understood that the relationship between counsellor and client was a major part of the therapy. Working at a relational depth that allows the counsellor access to the client’s inner world seemed to me to be an obvious way of starting from where the client was. It was a bit of a surprise to explore other modalities as a professional counsellor and realise that starting with the client’s inner world didn’t always apply. Although I met many compassionate people working as counsellors it seemed that when they stepped into their professional role they unhooked or bypassed that loving feeling.
As a counsellor I used to believe that I could counsel anyone about anything so long as I had had the ‘right’ training. I studied specialisms & specific ‘illnesses’. I researched abnormal psychology. Armed with this knowledge – whether I really understood or not – I launched myself into work with clients confident that I could relate to them no matter what the issue. After all, knowledge plus a listening ear would help me enter their world once we had formed a relational bond. As I learned more and more about relationships, positive and negative, as a therapist, my experiences steered me to think deeply about compassion. How could someone describe their inner world in a space that felt safe enough to do so unless there was some show of empathy? Perhaps understanding wasn’t actually enough. I feel that this was the point when I began to look for the spiritual aspects of counselling and began the journey into my own mediumship.
Compassion is a word that is thrown around a lot nowadays. It’s a buzz word, a short cut for some kind of loving kindness that we can all express. One dictionary definition is ‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.’ Not sure I would want sympathy and pity when I was experiencing life’s challenges. Another definition is ‘the response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help.’ The second definition is certainly more to my liking. But here is a definition I really love – ‘Compassion is passion with a heart’. When I work I am following my passion. I put all of my heart into what I do and hope that the relationships that are formed will enable others to change whatever they wish to in their lives. I can’t think of a better reason to run a spiritual business.
It’s often said that you get the clients you need. Clients are mirrors for the practitioner to see their own reflection in too. If we offer positive relationships, based on honesty, tough love and compassion, both the practitioner and the client can practice relating in a deeper and more meaningful way. I am surrounded by some wonderful practitioners who also have a passion for thier work that demonstrates compassion combined with professionalism. We love that we can support people from whatever their starting point is. Making relationships that listen to the inner person, validates their experiences and offers choices is a very empowering experience for both parties in the relationship.
I feel that this is a new model of working which gives a greater choice to all. Too many professionals work from a knowledge base that insists on a detachment from the warmer emotions that we might naturally feel when seeing someone’s struggles. Teaching, medicine, law, government, care & support systems all present an opportunity for services to be delivered with compassion. Too often the ‘system’ takes over and the users become numbers, nameless & faceless, sent away with a quick fix solution. The people who have the passion for service in these professions are eventually driven away by the frustration of not being able to start their work from the heart of the client’s issues. For many people the service they receive becomes a ‘one size fits all’ sheep dip process.
I am fortunate that I can run my Centre in whatever way I feel is best. We will continue to offer compassionate professionalism in whatever we do. If you are passionate about helping, can start from where the other person needs you to start and want to make a difference to they way services are organised please share this blog. The more we discuss compassion as a natural part of our working lives the faster we can really make a significant change in the lives of those who we feel compassionate towards.
Day 136 of my blogging challenge.