The Talking Therapy

carlrogersOne of the things I really enjoy is working as a counsellor. For 17 years (sometimes it seems like much longer) I have been working with people who find that it’s good to talk. Having accessed counselling for myself I found that I wanted to learn more about why & how it might work. I certainly found the opportunity to talk had made a difference in my life. So it was a short step, once I started to ask about how and why, into training and then working as a counsellor myself.

We are so busy. We expect to be able to cope with anything life throws at us. There are some secrets we feel we can never tell. We believe that we are ‘bad’, ‘weak’, victims of others or our circumstances. We think that the patterns we have got into are the only way to live our lives. We decide we are unworthy of anything better. We are overwhelmed. We are desperate. We have no hope. We are in pain and don’t know how to stop the hurt. Who would want to listen to me?

Often people find a counsellor when they are at the end of their tether. It seems as if thoughts and feelings are doing battle inside them yet there is no way to win. We do get stuck at times – all of us. If we are fortunate we have supportive and compassionate people around us who are prepared to listen whilst we explore those thoughts and feelings. Not to offer us practical solutions or make plans for us or even to tell us what to do. All we need is one person prepared to join us in exploring the world as we experience it. One other who will ‘hold’ us rather than judge us. A relationship that works at helping the person who is. perhaps, lost inside themselves, find a direction and way of living a more positive life.

Often we have exhausted all the people around us. We have spoken (or not spoken) for so long that their ears have become used to what we are saying. They are no longer actively listening. I know when I reached that point I had to go outside of family and friends to find a fresh pair of ears. I wanted to speak & be heard by someone who had no connection with me so that what I choose to talk about wouldn’t be judged by knowledge of the me I showed to the world. I needed to find a confidential, safe space to explore all of my thoughts and feelings. I was afraid that some of my thoughts and feelings would be hurtful to the people I lived my life with. I was afraid that I wouldn’t like who I was when I gave my feelings & thoughts some fresh air. I wasn’t convinced I wanted to look at my ‘self’ in  the mirror. The pressure of what I felt was hard to contain. I wasn’t sure I was thinking straight (if there was such a thing). Containing all sorts of ‘stuff’ was exhausting. Finally I engaged in a course of therapy – the talking kind.

Coming out the other side of therapy one of the benefits was the relationship I had developed with my counsellor. She provided a safe space for exploration. She was authentic, detached and actively listened to everything that gushed out from my rambling conversations. Her ability to make the right observation at the right time got me to notice where I was contradicting myself, where I was unsure about something and, most importantly those ‘ah-ha’ moments when I discovered something about myself that I liked or loved. The talking therapy worked somehow!

There are less and less opportunities to sit and talk. To explore what you feel or think, especially when life is challenging. Our traditional ways of communicating are fading away, replaced by electronic devices, social media and impersonal support systems. Where and how do we get chances to validate our experiences? To explain why life is feeling like it’s up-side-down? As a counsellor I try to provide in one to one sessions what I was given so long ago – space, a listening ear and a positive, professional relationship.

I also try to provide that space in my Down 2 Earth Heart Centre. I recognise that one aspect of support that has faded fast is that of pastoral counselling. We seem to be less religiously minded but more spiritually questioning. When life is difficult we look for the meaning – the why is this happening to me question comes to the surface. Providing a place where people can drop in and talk about the journey of life is important to me. There is an opportunity for people to be truthful about their thoughts and feelings in a space that has no particular religious connection. So I’m happy to be a part of the talking therapy & to offer my services & my ears. We can all be a part of talking therapy – qualifications don’t count – so long as we are prepared to listen carefully to what is said, what is left unsaid and to comment with true empathy to the person speaking. Helping another person to work it out for themselves is a great gift to give. Will you make time for giving?

Day 48 of my blogging challenge.