What Is Counselling?
It is very difficult to answer "what is counselling?" in brief.
if I told you that there are four main theoretical approaches within Counselling and Psychotherapy: Humanistic, Psychodynamic, Cognitive behavioural and Transpersonal and that there are now over 400 variations of these 4 main schools, you will realise just how difficult it is to explain in brief.
It will be simpler and perhaps more understandable to answer:
'What will Counselling be like with me?'
'What is my approach?' 'How do I work?'
My initial training was in 'Humanistic' therapies, with 'Person Centred Therapy' as the core model. Since then I have attended and completed many other training courses and would now say that I have become 'Existential-Humanistic' and very 'Relational.'
That probably sounds really complicated?
In brief the terms Humanistic, Person Centred and Relational mean that:
I'm genuine, real, approachable, easy going, . People I work with always comment that they find me "down-to-earth" that I "put them at ease quickly" , that they "feel safe" they "trust" and "never judged" in any way.
This IS NOT a mask or façade, but my way-of-being. I believe that masks in this work can be seen straight through and there will therefore be no connection due to the lack of genuineness and therefore no real relationship upon which 'success' depends. I have experienced these masks and facades a few times myself (as a client) prior to becoming a therapist and therapy was pointless, so I was determined during my training to NOT be this way! So you'll hopefully experience me as just another human being, my being 'relational' can be summarised as:
"you'll be having therapy in a relationship with a real person."
The relationship between the client and therapist has been shown (through research) to be the key factor to any success in therapy and I aim to make it feel as equal as possible, but the fact that you come to me for 'help' immediately puts me in the position of power or 'expert.'
However YOU are the expert on you not ME!
My job is 'basically' to work collaboratively with you; to help you discover or re-discover your potential to live your life well, to help you 'back on the path; to help you explore and find meaning and solutions to your life issues. To enable me to do this, I may integrate aspects of the theories and approaches noted above:
Humanistic, Psychodynamic, Cognitive behavioural and Transpersonal.
BUT, this doesn't mean that it's a haphazard 'throwing together' of different theories but a cohesive 'integrative' approach which can often offer greater scope for exploration of thoughts, feelings and behaviours giving the best outcome for you.
The approach is also non-diagnostic: I won't tell you what is wrong with you!
BUT I will help you to identify feelings, thought or behaviours that may be causing you difficulty and help you find ways to deal with them more effectively.
and non-directive: I won't tell you what you should or shouldn't be doing!
BUT I will help you develop existing or discover new resources for coping and living your life effectively.
The Existential 'bit'
The fluidity of life and the constant change and transition that we experience can often feel confusing. You may feel stressed, pressured, 'hemmed in' or overwhelmed by life events; feeling that your freedom and ability to make choices is limited. These events are often not only related to the present, but can be linked to the past or the future. This can leads to upset in many areas of our lives, relationship difficulties, work issues, lack of self esteem, self worth, anger, anxiety, the list could include almost anything.
I'll aim to help you find meaning, sense and understanding in your experiences, and help you discover the freedom you actually have to make choices, so that you can move forward confidently and successfully into future life experiences.
From my own experience and my experience of working (therapeutically) with hundreds of people over the years, I believe that as people we strive and struggle to obtain and maintain 3 main areas within our life:
Control, Certainty and Safety.
At times of struggle within my own life and clients that I have worked with, it seems that all troubles, struggles and dilemmas we experience are a combination of a lack of the above. For instance; a lack of control leaves us feeling uncertain which in turn leaves us feeling unsafe or vulnerable.
Some life events bring us quickly (and others slowly) to the sobering realisation that in reality there is very little that we can actually control, that life is (in reality) very uncertain.
Does this mean that we should therefore feel forever vulnerable, 'unsafe'? Well no; of course not! Perhaps 'successful' living is about coming to terms with our lack of control and uncertainty and coming to the realisation that despite the limitations and constraints this may bring we still have an abundance of freedom and choice in how we live our lives, even though it often doesn't feel this way.
One of my roles as your therapist is to help you discover the freedom and choice that you actually have to make decisions that may make your life more enjoyable.