The kindness of strangers
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Johanna Sartori MBACP Accred.
23rd November, 20110 Comments
Imagine a woman, who, on the way to work one day, receives the call we all dread; the one that says her dearest relative is gravely ill and lying in a hospital ward, 100 miles away. As the ground shifts beneath her, she knows that her expectations for that day no longer apply; instead she must find a way to get to her loved one. As the news sinks in she experiences fear, worry, and anxiety. Noticing the tears beginning to roll down her face, a complete stranger in the midst of the rush hour turmoil stops and touches her arm - “whatever it is, I hope it gets better”.
That’s it. One apparently simple act of kindness by a stranger, but actually, it is so much more. Consider what that act of kindness expresses;
- The stranger was paying enough attention to the world, to see that the woman was in pain.
- The stranger cared enough about the unhappiness of others to want to connect.
- She conveyed to the woman that she saw her pain, she understood it, and at some level, in recognising it, she shared it.
- The stranger knew she did not have a solution and did not pretend that she could make it better.
- Instead the stranger offered hope; at a time when the woman despaired, the stranger held the hope for her.
I like this story because very simply, it illustrates the counselling process. When life throws a curve ball, it can knock us off balance, and our usual ways of coping don’t work anymore. But whilst we struggle internally, it can seem as if no-one notices our distress. A counsellor or therapist is the stranger who stops. When we work with you as a client our focus is on you entirely, we are looking for the emotions you feel, so that we can try to walk, if not in your shoes, then alongside you. We don’t have answers, we don’t advise and we don’t offer solutions. We are just people who want to travel with you on that journey, providing support, safety and exploration. All we can do is listen, to really hear what you say and what you can’t say, to try to understand, and as with the stranger, to hold the hope for you. We have faith that one day, you will have that hope again.
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