Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work as a counsellor. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links above.
What do counsellors actually do? We spend a lot of time listening to our clients, encouraging them to talk, sometimes giving small signs of encouragement with our facial expressions, or with a few words. We spend a lot of time in silence, not actually doing or saying anything.
In adopting this really quite passive position, we hope to be providing a space where you, the client can talk in a free way – free of distraction, interruption, advice, judgment – free of all the things that would probably take place in a conversation with a friend. And the idea of this, of course, is that it gives you time to expand your thoughts, express your feelings and think in a different way about the issues you might be facing.
So, can you do this without a counsellor? If you go and sit in a quiet place on your own and ruminate, can you achieve the same result without having to pay £50 an hour for the privilege?
To a certain extent, I think you can, or at least, you can learn to. I worked with a client recently, who at the end of counselling said that he found himself thinking about himself in a different way in between sessions. In counselling we had spent quite a lot of time understanding how his past experiences linked to his behaviours today, and we had looked at alternative ways of behaving.
For example, you might be annoyed if your kids leave their dirty shoes in the hall, and your instinct might be to shout at them about it. But that is not the only way to deal with your annoyance. You might instead choose to stay calm but deduct an amount from their pocket money. Or you might choose to ignore it, not to make an issue out of it. None of these choices is right or wrong, but some may be more helpful than others, and your instinctive reaction may be more about how your parents treated you, than about how you might choose to treat your children.
I digress : to return to my client, he had developed the ability to stop and ask himself why he was feeling the way he was, why he was behaving as he was. He was looking at himself in a different way, understanding himself better, and also looking after himself better – thinking about his needs and how best to meet them.
In doing this, I would say that he was counselling himself – and that this is something we can all learn to do to a greater or lesser extent.
However, I also think that there are limits to this process – we cannot deal with all situations in this way. Sometimes our emotions are perhaps too strong, or the difficulties we face are too complex. Or perhaps we might run out of ideas : “I want to stop shouting at the kids but I just can’t seem to stop myself”. There are times when, however good our own DIY skills might be, it is time to call in an expert….