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
Sometimes people arrive at counselling not entirely out of their own choice. They don’t quite say “My mum made me come” but there may certainly have been an element of persuasion, from parents, loved ones, friends, even from the children.
So clients may arrive with messages ringing in their ears – “You’re a problem” – “You need to sort yourself out” – “You two are always arguing and are driving me nuts” – “You’re always moaning at me but doing nothing about it”. Sometimes clients will agree with the messages they’ve heard about themselves. Sometimes they will not – sometimes they have come to counselling partly, or even wholly, to appease other people.
If appeasement is one of the main reasons for coming to counselling, it can be useful to talk about the messages that other people are giving you. Do you agree that you are the problem? Do you want or need to change things that other people are telling you to change? Do you perhaps resent the fact that others don’t accept you for who you are? Does it feel as if others are making their love conditional on you changing?
This is about trying to set an agenda, to decide what your objectives (as opposed to other people’s objectives) are. You may reject some of the messages outright. Others you may accept, either wholly or partially. Yes, I would like to deal with my anger better, to drink less, to be more positive in my thinking, to recover from the loss of my job.
So there are some changes you’d like to make, and they will please whoever has encouraged you to come to counselling. On the other hand, there may be other changes that others would like you to make, which you are not happy with. You may assert your right to make your own lifestyle choices, even if others disapprove. Your choice of partner, or of job, for instance, may be right for you, though your parents may not approve. You may assert your right to smoke, to drink or to take drugs, even though your partner dislikes it.
In these and similar situations, the work you can do in counselling may be about how to assert yourself regarding the choices you make. To put it brutally, you may want to say to your parents “I know you don’t approve of my choice of husband but I love him – live with it”. Or to your partner “I know you don’t like me smoking but it’s something I enjoy doing. Accept that and stop nagging.”
Delivering messages like this may be very difficult. We may fear losing or hurting people who are close to us. Counselling may help you to think about how best to deliver the messages – and to deal with the consequences of the messages – guilt, perhaps, or betrayal, or damage to an important relationship – and how to move forward from that.