The Spark counsellor Cathie lifts the lid in this blog on what counselling is like from her perspective as a counsellor. Many people may avoid counselling because of a lack of understanding and information on what it is and what it can help them achieve. In this blog Cathie looks at some common misconceptions about counselling and the good that can be achieved by it.
Always interesting, never boring
Counselling is a role that offers a genuine sense of no two days ever being the same. By its very nature counselling – dealing with people (we call them clients), their experiences, beliefs and views – is extremely varied and therefore always interesting. There are often common issues and underlying problems, but every individual deals with issues and works through counselling sessions differently. This means you can never predict what a counselling session will bring. Counsellors therefore need to be prepared for clients to dictate what they want to discuss and to move around the issues they face.
Counsellor: a privileged position
It is a unique privilege to be trusted by an individual, couple or a family to discuss in confidence the problems and issues they are facing. In society it is highly unusual for a stranger to be given such an insight in to the lives of others. Counsellors therefore need to be experts in helping clients feel at ease and building trust with them swiftly. The key to this is the binding confidentiality that is central to the counselling profession and the simple fact counsellors are there to listen, without judgement. This is something the friends and family of clients are often unable to do, despite their best intentions. And the neutrality and independence of the counsellor from the situations or issues discussed place them in a special position to help clients move forward.
Understanding the process
A common misconception is that a counsellor will ‘fix’ a client’s issue or problem. Counselling is about facilitating a process for the client to work through their issue, learning and changing as they work with you. Unlike the clichéd doctor’s response of ‘take two of these and call me in the morning’ counselling is a process of self-development.
Another common misconception is that counsellors are just paid to sit and listen to people ‘moan’ about their problems. This could not be further from the truth. The issues presented to counsellors are often complex and reach back to problems that began many years before. It is difficult for some clients to open up to a counsellor and this in itself presents a significant challenge. This is especially the case where a client wants to deal with their issues but those issues are bound up in difficult past experiences with trust and openness.
Couples counselling (or couples therapy and marriage counselling as it can also be known) presents its own challenges for the counsellor. When a couple has reached crisis point it can initially be hard for them to even listen to their partner’s opinion or viewpoint. Equally if one partner is, unlike their spouse, unwilling or reluctant to open up and share their feelings it takes a skilled counsellor to accommodate such scenarios.
But these challenges are often what make the counselling experience, from my perspective, the most rewarding aspect of the profession. Helping an individual to open up and start to work through their problems, or getting a warring couple to begin working peacefully and positively towards a better future make the many years of training and self-development so worthwhile.
If you would like to arrange to speak to a counsellor like Cathie, freephone our Counselling enquiry line on 0808 802 0050 or e-mail The Spark. Alternatively, search for a local The Spark Counselling centre near you.
Counselling and support
The Spark Counselling provides individual counselling, couples counselling, marriage counselling and family counselling across Scotland. Talk to us about counselling options free on 0808 802 0050 or e-mail The Spark.
The Spark Counselling offers face-to-face appointments, telephone appointments and online chat services.
You can find out more about The Spark Counselling here or search for your nearest counselling centre.
We also provide a free Relationship Helpline for immediate support by freephone 0808 802 2088 and online chat by clicking on the link in the top left corner of this page. Open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am – 2pm.