Thursday, 12 April 2018

Why see a Counsellor or Therapist?

Why would someone go to the expense, time and commitment to train as a counsellor if it were easy to guide someone through change or the relief of symptoms?

In 1989, it cost approximately £10,000 to train as a counsellor. I studied for a Diploma in Higher Education which involved extensive group work and I also took a Diploma in Counselling. For the Diploma in Counselling, I understudied with an experienced therapist for almost two years and I read forty books during this time as well as writing a dissertation, keeping a personal journal and being a client myself so I have more than adequate knowledge about the process and how it can affect someone on many levels. As a qualified and experienced counsellor, if I see a client with a major problem, such as self-harm or feelings of suicide, I pay to see a supervisor, which can be extremely costly. I have insurance and maintain a comfortable venue to see clients, all this costs money and that is why it is necessary for me to charge for my time and expertise.

The reason I trained as a counsellor was so that I could give people the very best attention that is possible, not just saying what comes to mind at the time but using methods and techniques that have been properly researched and are effective and safe. I would want this for myself and my loved ones, so why not give others the best too? Yes, I know what it means to be distraught, worried, depressed, exhausted and frustrated. However, I must remain unrestimulated when my client tells me about their over whelming and painful experiences, for this person is different to me, and though I can empathise, I must remain separate and be able to think clearly, rationally and analytically. If I get confused over what is me and what is them, I am involved in an over-identification, which confuses everyone about who is the client and who is the counsellor!  They are seeking counselling from me, not me from them. The client must know they can lean on me because I am strong and though I can understand, I can still bear the weight of their troubles. I must be truthful, honest and transparent at all times, have no judgments about their character or past actions and must be able to place myself in their shoes - how do I know how I would behave if I were in their position!

My projections, transferences, and so on, must be within my awareness. Take for instance a client with a messy relationship; the husband and wife are arguing and cannot reach a compromise. An untrained counsellor gave the following advice to the wife, “You should leave him!” However, this might mean a protracted house sale, children moving home and school, and might not be the best or desired course of action, but was only suggested because the counsellor was thinking about her own issues. A trained counsellor would help the client to reach their own conclusions by way of insight, awareness and greater understanding, exploring all avenues and not jumping to conclusions. The client should be empowered to make decisions and not the counsellor seeking power over their client. The client should also be allowed to gain some insight which is arrived at without prompting by the counsellor. 

Many people seek assistance from people who are not trained or qualified, sometimes paying them as much as they would to see a person who has earned some credentials through study and perseverance, considerable cost and time commitment. If you feel you are struggling with emotional conflicts, relationship problems or addictions, avoid discussing them with your next door neighbour or internet chat lines as what people can say can be hurtful, stupid, misleading or destructive. Seek out someone who is qualified to guide you through the process of recovery through tried and tested means.

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