To really be or not to really be.

Judging by the number of training courses for counsellors and the number of counsellors there now are, it would seem that more and more people are turning to counselling to resolve disturbing issues. The Government has also accepted that ‘talking therapies’ can be effective and advises doctors to encourage patients to engage with a therapist. However, the downside of the Government’s policy is that it appears to favour only one of the many theoretical approaches to counselling above all others, i.e. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. CBT is proscribed by the Government as it believes it to be the ‘most effective’ since it considers that a) improvements are possible in the short term and b) the process is measurable. In some instances, that may be possible, but generally the counselling process is unpredictable. Often the ‘presenting problem’ is not the underlying issue causing emotional disturbance and possible physical symptoms.

Counselling is not an easy process. Reflecting on past experiences and conditioning which may be the cause of current feelings can be painful. It can become very difficult when we are faced with challenges we may have been avoiding all of our life. When we enter into counselling we may not realise it at first but we are putting ourself into a challenging position. We are caused to reflect on our thought processes and our way of being, those aspects of our self with which we have become so comfortable. We become protective of them as we consider them to be the ‘real me’. To move on we may need to change them but it is often extremely difficult to do so. We fear the future without our ‘comfort zone’ as without it there is unexplored and consequently scary new territory to confront.

There is one solution to obviate this, we could try out the ‘new me’ and if we don’t like it we could choose to go back. However, in the experience of my own journey and that which I have experienced with clients we don’t do this. The rewards of making even relatively small changes are generally highly significant and we feel so different and so much better. A burden is lifted from our shoulders. Another benefit of making such changes is that new challenges appear less frightening. Having experienced the benefits and rewards of making change we are encouraged to do more. Life becomes more exciting as we discover new aspects of our self. The value is exponential. We have a greater sense of our ability to control our life and consequently can choose to stop the process. We are in control and are not merely ‘going with the flow’ without a paddle. We can ‘go with the flow’ but we have a greater sense of the direction in which we would like to go. We become aware that we have choice.

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