Whilst it is good news that more people believe it is better to talk to someone about their problems than take medication (‘Good news for therapists’ p28, The Independent Practitioner, winter 2010), perhaps we, as therapists, should do more to promote the life-changing effects that the increase in self-awareness and personal development through counselling can bring. Surely there is a greater need for counselling and psychotherapy to be seen not just for those with ‘problematical issues’.
This false perception, presumably by those who have not experienced counselling, was emphasised for me when I released details relating to the counselling element in a workshop to be run in March (see www. psychosound.org.uk/), exploring the motivation and inhibitions to creativity.
Some of the comments I received back suggested that the counselling part of the workshop had been perceived as being there to deal with a presumed discomfort that participants might experience, and not as a way of gaining greater understanding of the process the participants experienced in the latter, in fact, being the main objective of the workshop.
I came across this quotation in an article by Howard Jacobson in his column in The Independent on Saturday 13th November 2010 – ‘How happiness can inspire great art’.
“Such is the common process of marriage. A youth and maiden meeting by chance, or brought together by artifice, exchange glances, reciprocate civilities, go home, and dream of one another. Having little to divert attention, or diversify thought, they find themselves uneasy when they are apart, and therefore conclude that they shall be happy together. They marry, and discover what nothing but voluntary blindness had before concealed; they wear out life in altercations, and charge nature with cruelty.”
The reason the language may appear a little ‘old fashioned’ is because the message is ‘old fashioned’ it was written in 1759. However it is as true today as it was when it was written. These are the words of Rasselas from Samuel Johnson’s novella ‘The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (ISBN: 014043108X / 0-14-043108-X)
Two and a half centuries have passed and with them millions of marriages have taken place and yet it would seem the same misconceptions, or hopes, of that institution prevail. Lovers choose to share their lives together perhaps dreaming of a future filled with endless love and happiness but as Rasselas recognises the dreams remain just that – dreams. He perceives inevitable unhappiness and debates the advantages and disadvantages of late marriages which are, however, themselves fraught with problems.
Doesn’t this indicate that the vast majority of those of us choosing to share our lives with someone else is ill prepared to do so? Why do we expect to succeed where so many have failed? (See my earlier post – Do you have a ‘back seat driver’ on board?). How can we expect to relate well to others if we do not fully understand ourself?
Isn’t there a need to begin the preparation for entering into relationships? Given that a majority of parents (two out of three marriages end in divorce) would appear incapable of passing on advice gianed through success. Isn’t there something lacking in the education curriculum? Perhaps amongst the plethora of questionable degree courses that exist today there could be one for ‘Self-awareness’ – given that so little time is available for this within schools beavering away to get the correct boxes ticked in order to succeed in the league tables where to be ‘below average’ is to be seen to fail – a status which is inevitable for fifty per cent of them.
I came across the following in Dorothy Rowe’s Why We Lie (p7):
What determines our behaviour is not what happens to us but how we interpret what happens to us