Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Lee Allen Registered Member MBACP
4th June, 20110 Comments
The most difficult aspect of working with any relationship breakdown are the client’s feelings of love lost, whether it is denied, spurned, or just taken away, as a Counsellor working with such raw emotion it is important that the client feels that the Counsellor is with them in their pain.
What I’m wanting to consider when working with relationship breakdown is the attitudinal quality Unconditional Positive Regard in the Person Centred Approach, and what really is this quality and how does it help a client with feelings of love lost live with these feelings and heal themselves from having their love denied. I want to consider that the real quality Unconditional Positive Regard is in fact Unconditional Love, and that love is the quality that helps a client heal themselves.
Okay this seems simplistic, yet the quality of love I am describing isn’t a love that judges, wanting to be reciprocated, it’s a pure love, that is about touching psychologically another human being that enables them to have a different view of themselves in their world, and in a sense enables them to hope that they can love again and be loved. As humans we are driven to give love and this drive to give is what is broken when love is denied, therefore it is the disappointment of love not being realised is what a client is struggling with when they enter the counselling room, and it’s the quality of Unconditional Love that they receive from their Counsellor that helps them accept their disappointment and to dare to love again, thus be self actualising (David Brazier, Love and it’s disappointment, 2009).
To consider this further, to feel whole as a human being we need to have love, and that what we strive to do is love to have love, and what can stop this fundamental human need is having this need blocked. At anytime during our lives we can have this need blocked, we then have to live with the feelings that we experience from having our love needs blocked. We strive to love, think of the greatest love stories, think of how we look for a love, and how when it is realised we can feel whole. Now when this love is not realised for whatever reasons we have to live with the disappointment of our love not being received and in how our self belief and hope can feel lost, and thus we become confused and unsure whether we dare risk striving to love again.
Person Centred Counsellors as a rule of thumb will probably not describe Unconditional Positive Regard as Unconditional Love, it may not be easy in the field of Counselling to describe an attitudinal quality as Love, this is probably to do with how some people may attach meanings to love that it is a touchy feely quality and doesn’t fit in with the world of psychological assessments and evidence based Counselling outcomes, yet maybe it is this very defence that says much about the society we live in than the Counsellor you see , and while your counsellor may not describe what they do as Unconditional Love , if they are sure of their Counselling Approach and are practising as a Person Centred Counsellor there is a good change you will experience Unconditional Love .
Thinking about this further ,while I can be sure and certain of my Unconditional Love , as regards others I cannot be sure , and this is what love is , it’s never certain , its forever delicate and in need of acceptance and nurturing for it to grow , and with any growth possibility love can grow with you or away from you .What we as humans have to risk is that our love needs will be received , with any risk there is always the possibility we might have to face it failing and with that failure we do not give into it, and again dare to strive for love to be whole .
Working with love denied and its disappointment, it is really the quality of Unconditional Love that you receive as a client from your Person Centred Counsellor that will determine how easy it is to heal yourself from love lost. Dare the counsellor offer Unconditional Love and how easy will it be for you to receive that love, in a sense this process could be described ‘as the dance of psychotherapy’ (Dave Mearns, Person Centred Practice : The BAPCA Reader,2000) through this dance your Counsellor endeavours to connect psychologically with you ,and it’s through the depth of this connection that you will experience Unconditional Love, with this experience helping you to reconnect with the possibility that you can not only receive love yet love again, therefore hope can spring eternally , if you can feel that striving for love will bring love .
It sounds easy doesn’t it, yet thinking more about the quality that is Unconditional love, how can it really help heal a broken heart? It’s a love that asks nothing of you other than to accept your pain, it does not want or need to be loved in return, in other words it’s a non possessive love, and in a sense it’s a pure love almost like that a parent feels for a child, and through experiencing this love it can enable you to feel that you can love again and be loved. Such a love is a precious gift a Person Centred Counsellor can give you, in the face of such love you could be able to face the world of relationships with the certainty that you can love again and are lovable.
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