If you had someone to really listen to you, what would you say?
When I originally made this slide for my Instagram I intended it to be a question for people who might be considering trying counselling. It was meant as an invitation and a chance for others to reflect about what they might get out of therapy. I hoped that people would read it and realise that there was a space where they could share a secret, a question, a confusion, or a difficult feeling. Maybe a chance to share something that had been niggling at them from the back of their mind and causing them discomfort, or maybe something that's simply refusing to go away.
But just now when I was looking through my posts wondering which one to write about, I realise this one still applies to me.
I had 100 hours of counselling as a part of my training, and I still dip in sometimes to make sure I'm ready for my clients. However, I still often wonder what to talk about. I know I really value the space, otherwise I wouldn't be there - but where to start? Is there something I should be talking about? Often I’m not sure as I start the session.
So, I've just realised that I'm not sure that I know the answer to my own question!
I'll often take a couple of minutes on my own before I talk to my counsellor to just get a sense of where I am and what's on my mind. Sometimes there's something I'm burning to offload but often it feels a bit blank. So that’s where I start, with the feeling of not quite knowing where to start and how that feels. Does it make me anxious, self-conscious, embarrassed, like a 'bad' client etc. then just let the session unfold. I guess that’s an answer to the question in some way. What I’ll say is what I’m experiencing in that moment. It certainly isn’t a plan beyond that though and it’s definitely not a scripted list of items.
One of the things I love about Person-Centred Experiential counselling is that the sessions just flow wherever the client wants to go. There's no agenda set by the counsellor. I can just follow my thoughts and feelings and see where I end up. It can often be surprising and I love the way it unfolds. Often those sessions with the blank start end up being the most fruitful as they're the ones with the space for things to untangle. That’s what I’ve learned I suppose, to trust the process of following what comes up in the moment for me and share that with someone else and see where we both go with it together.
Anyway, going back to my original question... I wonder now if it's the asking of the question that's the important thing for me here, rather than any particular answer. I mean it as an invitation and a welcome to potential clients. An indication that I'm here to listen to you, whatever you might bring. I will try my best to accept you fully, to listen as fully as I'm able to and to understand as much as I can about what it's like to be you. What you choose to tell me and where you choose to go after that start is entirely led by you. There's no wrong answer to the question I've asked. That's just as well really, when I can't always answer it myself!