Here is my best attempt to put the ART OF COUNSELLING into words........
I facilitate your self-awareness and I leverage differentiation with developmental assists. I do this in many ways:
- I ask questions designed to deepen your process and ability to explore your own experience.
- I point out “blind” spots; the hidden “ghosts” which you cannot clearly see.
- I contribute my wisdom, insight, and understanding of human behaviour.
- I watch for patterns of behavior, helping you see how apparently different things may be connected
- I listen for coping styles that come with a hidden cost, and explore alternative thriving coping.
- I observe your body language, tone, eye contact. This gives me additional clues to your unconscious, and to your feelings.
- I listen for the content of what you’re saying, and for the underlying, symbolic meaning of the issues/events to you. I listen for your strengths and resiliencies, and assist you to build on them.
- Using various lenses (medical, psychological, spiritual, developmental, and physical) I interpret what you’re saying and feed back what I’m hearing.
- I gently and respectfully confront beliefs, values, behaviour, or thought processes that I feel may be holding your progress back. I nurture those which support you in growth.
- I point out discrepancies in what you say and what you do so that you’re able to begin acting in ways that are congruent with your stated beliefs and values.
- I offer alternative explanations/theories to help you gain more perspective.
I provide relevant information
- Knowledge is power; the power to make choices and changes. I provide you with a wealth of theory of human development and support you while you learn what fits for you.
- I observe your needs for support and make relevant referrals to community agencies, supply reading materials, and suggest books, or A/V materials.
I strive to build and maintain a therapeutic alliance
- I provide a safe and caring emotional environment, giving you unconditional positive regard no matter what you reveal, and responding with compassion rather than judgment. This allows you to begin building self-compassion; an essential ingredient in health.
- As appropriate, I temporarily enact the role of the parent/guardian/guide you may not have had in order to provide you with a “corrective emotional experience”, or an opportunity to connect, bond and attach in a safe and healthy way, thus healing old wounds and allowing you to build confidence in your interpersonal abilities.
- Your patterns will likely be enacted in therapy. I witness and make these patterns visible, while remaining caring and supportive—I do not abandon you, but rather set limits.
- I observe transference and counter transference patterns and bring them into the sessions.
- I model good boundaries, assertive communication, respect, appreciation, and compassion.
I coach you in experiential exercises
As appropriate and relevant, I propose various skill-building, knowledge- enhancement, and body-awareness exercises designed to aid your learning process. This may take the form of visualizations, role plays, behavioural rehearsal, enactments, writing or art exercises, or monitoring your body’s messages.
YOU CAN EXPECT ME NOT TO ENGAGE IN THESE BEHAVIOURS:
Giving you advice. People often come into counselling for the first time expecting to be told how to fix whatever problem they have come in with. They want the pain to go away and they want to be told how to make it go away. However, if you were told what to do this could potentially cause you to rely on that person instead of yourself. Alternatively, you may be given a well-intentioned but faulty solution. Or, you may resist another’s “answer”. Counselling is therefore primarily a self-discovery process that enables you to become more effective in your life. Advice can give you the message that you are inadequate, rather than bolstering your self-belief.
Mistaking the therapeutic alliance for a friendship. A strong, compassionate and respectful connection with your counsellor is critical, and feelings of caring may develop, but I understand that this is a privileged relationship designed to give you one-way attention. It is a service designed to meet your needs. It can never replace the need to develop relationships that are mutual and fulfilling.
Touching without permission. You control all access to your body. There may be moments where I feel that a gesture of comfort or support would be appropriate, but I will not initiate contact without your spoken permission.