Counselling and its Goals
What is Counselling?
Counselling is a meaningful, challenging and rewarding journey. It is a way of connecting to ourselves to find out what we need, and who we are. There is something about this contact that makes life meaningful. Counselling is a way of working through pain, suffering and fear. It is a way of liberating ourselves.
I like to think of counselling as self-exploration that is embraced without judgement and with generosity and acceptance towards oneself. It is a creative process of self-discovery that places your well-being at the forefront. What you speak about in counselling remains confidential.
The two of us commit to reserving an hour each week in order to sit together and find out who you are, what you yearn for, what keeps you stuck, and what makes your life a painful experience. It's funny that many people attach stigma to counselling, assuming that if you are in therapy there is something 'wrong' with you. In actual fact, this journey requires substantial courage because it asks you to face yourself and your fears with honesty.
Essentially counselling is a form of personal development and liberation. Its aim is to increase your freedom to live more fully, and with a greater sense of meaning and empathy. This is achieved through becoming aware of and learning to embrace the many different aspects of yourself.
I use talk and art therapy with adults. When we work together we see which approaches work best for you.
It is helpful to bear in mind that counselling does not involve advice giving. It is a context where you work your choices out through reflection and self-understanding.
The goals of counselling
"My aim is to bring about a psychic state in which my patient begins to experiment with his own nature - a state of fluidity, change and growth where nothing is eternally fixed and hopelessly petrified" - Jung: The Aims of Psychotherapy, 1929
An important part of the work of counselling is to learn self-appreciation; to develop an empathic and generous sense of curiosity about who you are and why you respond and act the way you do. Why is this important? Because the more you are able to accept yourself, the less energy you need to devote to denying parts of yourself that you feel are unacceptable, and the more freedom you have to make different choices about your life.
Another important important goal of counselling is to expand self-awareness. When you are unaware of yourself your unconscious tends to drive your responses and behaviour. You feel like you are not in control of yourself, and destructive patterns hound your life.
So for instance, a child who has been abandoned by a parent grows up to struggle with trust in relationships. The trauma they have experienced leads to unconsciously assuming that their partner will abandon them at some point. Often the result of this is suspicion that actually leads to a break up. Only when this person becomes aware that it is their parent's abandonment of them that is still causing distrust, can the pattern change and happier relationships ensue.
Awareness of ourselves brings greater freedom and a feeling of being in charge of our lives. It enables us to get in touch with how experiences really affect us as opposed to how we think we should be affected. This honest self recognition is valuable because through it we can recognise our needs and meet them. When we can meet our needs we don't have to live with so much dissatisfaction, resentment and so on. Awareness clarifies what is going on for us – the conflicts we experience, what prevents us from doing the things we want, what makes us ambivalent, fearful and so on. In this way it enables us to make satisfying choices for our lives.
How do you become aware? You embark on a process of learning to notice yourself with honesty and appreciation. That's a short sentence but not an easy journey!