Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
Some people come to counselling with enthusiasm, eager to explore a particular issue, keen to find out more about themselves. Most people, particularly if they are attending counselling for the first time, arrive feeling rather nervous, wondering what will happen, not knowing what I will be like to work with. A few people attend unwillingly, “sent” by a friend or family member, or “dragged along” by a partner who sees couple therapy as the only way forward.
Sometimes people enter counselling with a feeling that talking about things can make it worse – that some things are best left unsaid. This can apply equally in relationship counselling or in individual work…”let’s draw a line under the past and move on”….”I don’t what to think about what happened in the past, I want to concentrate on the future”.
The danger of taking this line is that the past lurks. It sits there, in the background, and then comes back and hits you when you are not expecting it to. All our experiences – happy or unhappy – as an adult or a child – influence who we are today and how we might behave in certain situations – and sometimes this can be unhelpful, both to us and to those close to us.
We cannot simply ignore the past or pretend that it never happened. Every single experience we have shapes us in some small way. We learn from our past – not in a conscious way, necessarily, but unconsciously. We learn from observing others, from interacting with others, from books, from TV. It’s not a logical process or a controlled one, but largely a matter of trial and error, I think. We absorb stuff and then mash it around into some sort of coherent structure – our beliefs, our values, our feelings.
I remember talking to a client who didn’t normally show his emotions, but who would find himself dissolving into tears if he saw a distressed animal on TV. There are reasons why people experience road rage, or are scared of spiders, or hate silences. All these things are connected in some way to our past experiences, although it may not be obvious how or why.
Our brains are incredibly complex things, full of connections that we don’t fully understand, like a spider’s web. If we ignore the past, the connections remain static –they retain their power to kick in unexpectedly and cause us to react in inappropriate ways. Exploring the past is not about changing what has happened but about changing the connections in our brains, so that we can choose how we react to situations, rather than having the secret spider’s web of connections choose for us.
We never stop learning and counselling can be part of that process. Understanding the links between our past and our present gives us more power to do things differently.