Clients come to counselling stuck and immobilised, unable to create something new in their lives. Their repetition of stuck and unsatisfactory behaviours, thoughts and feelings is what leads most clients through my door. My task, as their therapist is to provide an environment that disrupts clients’ current levels of functioning, to move them toward change and renewed progression.
Many people have been indoctrinated to want and expect instantaneous relief from their discomfort at the pop of a pill. But what clients don’t know when they start taking meds is the unacknowledged cost of relying solely on pills. Without deeper self-enquiry and some basic methods that can control or eliminate their symptoms without meds. They never develop the tools for managing unwanted feelings such as anxiety or depression that, in all likelihood, will turn up again whenever they feel undue stress or go through significant life changes.
I utilize theoretical and practical interventions, through the observation of the client’s discrepancies, mixed messages, conflict, and incongruity in the client’s statements and behaviours. These inconsistencies are an important part of the client’s difficulties and concerns. The resolution of these discrepancies is central to the counselling process.
Our culture tends to think of change and development as positive processes, which indeed they are. Yet, we have given insufficient attention to the need to support those who seek change. The above-mentioned skills and interventions utilized within the counselling setting are not enough. The greatest importance is to be there with my client and support them through their process.
Research has confirmed, time and time again through the Society of Clinical Psychology, that the therapeutic relationship plays an extremely important role in the change process. The therapeutic alliance refers to the quality and strength of the collaborative relationship between client and therapist, often measured with therapeutic goals and treatment tasks, and a relationship bond. Along with empathy and genuineness, this alliance underpins the integral part of the therapeutic relationship
As a therapist I am always reminded that my clients have bodies as well as minds- I routinely inquire about ongoing self-care, including sleep and exercise. This is why I love working in an integrative health clinic where each person is treated holistically. When I see someone start to break free from some of the limitations imposed on them by their own past or the pain of their early relationships and experiences, to find their way, uncover their goals, and start to reveal who they really are, it is genuinely the most rewarding part of therapy.
Words: Sarah Beetham || Psychotherapist