When people ask me what I do and I tell them I’m a counsellor, they often say things like “what’s the point of talking about all that stuff? Why rehash the past? How does that help anybody move forward?”
Important questions, and often raised by those who’ve never had counselling. On the other hand, when someone has had counselling and made positive changes, they have faith that talking helps, because it did.
So what is counseling anyway? There are different styles but the core piece is listening. When I listen to someone, it means I pay close attention to what they say, draw them out and offer my care, skill and 35 years’ experience. But the simplest as well as most profound thing offered is presence. It is this which allows me to intuitively join my client’s world, see things as they do, while we work together on what is important to them.
What motivates most people to seek out counseling is when they hit a crisis or crossroads and are at their wit’s end. Perhaps their relationship is in difficulty, or they’ve had a breakup; a health scare has reminded them that life is short; perhaps they’ve just moved to a new city and feel lost and lonely; or a loved one passed away unexpectedly and they are left with feelings of grief, regret or even anger.
Unexpected and traumatic things can happen to anyone, and they do. And when they happen, it’s scary. The person’s life may be turned upside down, and they don’t know what to do. They feel panicked. What is going to happen and are they going to be OK? The person naturally longs for relief, reassurance, a solution that makes everything OK again, and who can blame them? Nobody wants to suffer if they can avoid it.
But when hard things do happen, wouldn’t it be a comfort to talk to someone who understands, who you click with, who gets you? How reassuring would it be to have someone who is familiar with what you are going through, who can make sense of it and offer reassurance, insights and strategies to help you cope? This is what a good counsellor can offer.
My clients often share with me that the work we do together is what’s made all the difference, whether its helping them to find the right partner, end a relationship, get a promotion, ask for a raise, resolve a conflict, or lose weight for example. But I also know this from my own experience of getting counselling, that it helped me create a happier life for myself. In fact, it is the gratitude I feel for that help that motivates me to reach out to help others.
I have learned many things as a counsellor over the years. One thing I learned is that a crisis can be a blessing in disguise, although the blessing may only be revealed after the storm is over. But while the crisis is going on, you may be buffeted and battered by emotions, and feel frightened, vulnerable or powerless as you face what’s happened.
But heartbreak opens us up like nothing else does. It is like a fierce storm that clears out the old patterns of seeing and doing, freeing up a space for something new to happen.
So when someone asks the question “what’s the point of talking about it”, my answer is this: having a chance to tell your story to a skillful listener who really understands is actually a great gift, and there are at least four surprises about the value of that:
- Expressing pain can make you feel better: The first surprise is that talking about painful experiences can bring enormous relief to the mind and heart. I hear it expressed from my clients on a daily basis at the end of their counselling hour: “I feel so much better already”, or “I feel lighter”. As the old saying goes “a trouble shared is a trouble halved”.
- A crisis can be shortened with counselling: A second surprise for most people is that a crisis will pass more quickly, when worked through with a competent counsellor. There are a number of reasons for this, but the simplest is that when you get help from a counsellor who is familiar with what you are going through, it saves you time having to figure it all out by yourself.
- Past experiences can be triggered by a current crisis: Another surprise is that the difficulties you are facing often trigger past experiences that were similar, unresolved and painful, such as losses that were not grieved. So a crisis offers an opportunity to understand and free yourself from unresolved past experiences, as well as find better solutions in the present.
- Talking can drain the emotional charge out of past experiences: A fourth surprise for many is how much emotion is still stored up in past experiences, which releases when they are talked about. The reason is that most of us carry painful past experiences that were never processed, so they are still full of hidden emotions. With the help of a skillful counsellor, these emotions provide wonderful opportunities to access the healing that is needed in order to ‘move on’ for good.
But this is not a job to do alone. It is so much easier to solve problems with someone who understands what you are going through, and what needs to happen.
I invite you to contact me today to set up a complimentary, no obligation 15 minute call to talk about whatever is on your mind, so you can get help right away.
And if you have a friend or family member going through a lot right now, I am grateful if you please pass along my contact information, so they can set up a complimentary call too. Remember counselling can bring immediate relief, generate new solutions and shorten a crisis. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250.370-2254.
Email Grace today at email@example.com for your free 15 minute phone consultation!