But you talk, how can you be a counsellor?
I am a talker, so how then have I become a counsellor you ask? Aren’t counsellors meant to sit and look gloomily at you, not responding. Just sitting quietly and listening. To a point yes -perhaps not gloomily though, just passively. I have learnt to listen. It was probably the hardest thing for me to do. I talk when excited, when nervous, when scared, when happy, in fact almost any time, except when I am in a new situation. Then the shyness creeps back in.
My own in initial experience of counselling was just as I described above. A cold, clinical room, and a cold clinical gloomy looking counsellor! It is sad to say, but they frustrated me more. The stony silence made me feel I was more alone. More of a failure because even the counsellor wouldn’t talk to me. I remember one day I looked at her for half an hour in silence then shrugged my shoulders. Still no response. I have to say I never went back. Now I understand what they were trying to do – get me to find my own way to actualise. A person-centred term for a client’s way forward, to become fully functioning. However, that was not the way for me. I needed to feel I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t being rejected yet again, but this time by a professional.
Since then I have had a different experience and have become my own version of a counsellor. Having spent years training and qualifying, gaining experience, practising and listening, I have moulded my own counselling skills and practise to one which I feel supports clients. I don’t tell clients what to do, that is not a counsellor’s job, the client needs to find out their own answers, BUT I do interact, I do give feedback on their issues and what they say. I feel through this interaction the person feels less lonely or abandoned and that someone is listening. I am also silent though when the need is there. The sessions are after all for and about the client.
I work with clients on a person to person basis. Some clients do need that silence, that peace and that works for them as their sounding board. They can work through their issues that way and feel supported. Others do need a bit more interaction from me. To hear me talk, empathise and challenge. They can push back, they can think, they can respond in a two-way interaction. This is why each session is individual. Either way I work I am not there to do the work for the client, to find or give them the answers. That is their job and that is the only way forward for a person. It is how they regain their strength and direction in life again. How they resolve those past traumas or present ones. How to manage the anxiety and stress they may feel each day. To grow, blossom and strengthen once more.
I may be a counsellor and I may talk BUT you have the answers. I help you to find them. So that is how I can counsel, I do it my way.