Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – email@example.com
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
Quite a few of my clients arrive for their first session uncertain about what to expect of counselling, and of me as a counsellor. What is counselling? What does a counsellor actually do?
It is worth starting off by saying what counselling is not. It is not psychoanalysis – there is no lying on couches, I do not speak with a strange Austrian accent, and I will not come out with psychobabble or weird theories about you wanting to kill your father and marry your mother – or the other way round. Nor will I tell you that you’re crazy and have you locked up – not that I could – but I do not make such judgments; people are all different, they all have their quirks, but are all sane and normal in different ways. And finally, I will not tell you what to do; counselling is not an advice service.
So counselling is not about telling you what’s wrong with you, or telling you what to do – it’s more about helping you explore your situation, helping you decide what changes, if any, you want to make, and perhaps helping you make those changes.
I think an important point here is that counselling aims to leave you (or put you) in control of your own destiny. You will not be told what to do, or what not to do, but will be helped to decide those things for yourself. And my personal experience is that I am a lot more committed to a course of action if I’ve decided on it myself, rather than have someone else decide it for me.
Having said all this, counselling is quite a practical sort of help, focussing on what you want to talk about in a way that makes sense to you. That can involve talking about your history, including your childhood, because experiences we have as kids can influence how we are today. But it may be that you want to talk much more about what is happening in the present, or what you want to happen in the future. The counselling process is flexible and the focus can therefore be on whatever is most important for you. Counselling aims to give you control of your life, so it makes sense that you have control of the counselling process.
So as a counsellor, what do I actually do, if I don’t give advice or tell you what’s wrong with you? There are two really important things. The first is that I provide an environment where you can explore yourself and your situation. If you talk to friends or family they will have their own agenda, their own stories, their own opinions of you, which are not always helpful. In a counselling environment the focus is 100% on you, and what you need, and there is no judgment about what you’ve done or what you think or feel.
The second important thing is that I will help you to look at things in different ways, from other points of view. I think of this as nudging, stirring or poking you to try to get you thinking about things differently. So I might offer different ideas : “I wonder if….” or “what do you think might happen if…” or “is there a connection between….”, and so on. None of this is about telling you the answers (because I don’t know them), but helping you explore possibilities, some of which might be dead ends, but some of which will, hopefully, be more helpful.