Why a mindfulness approach to counselling is so 'current'
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Julie Shaw REGISTERED MBACP. Amber Valley. Mindfulness Therapy and SUPERVISION
25th April, 2014
So many of my clients say they have something missing in their lives, and coming to mindfulness therapy has opened up new possibilities about how they can approach either difficult people in their environment or events and memories that cause suffering and internal stress.
A mindfulness approach is something clients 'get' quickly and swiftly.Their mind 'gets' it, and their body 'gets' it - it includes what is happening in the body 'right now'.
This approach is not all formulated around 'thinking' processes alone. The therapist also includes what he/she is experiencing in his/her body too. There are potent and powerful clues to what is happening for the client, via, the therapist. As soon as a client walks into a counselling room, the therapist can 'see' where they hold their suffering and pain in their body. By sharing what is happening 'right now' to them, the therapist provides the client with reassurance that the therapist 'gets' the client too.
For instance, a therapist may say - "I am feeling rather anxious at the moment, I can feel a tightness in my throat". This very often mirrors exactly what the client is feeling and they can relax a little into the therapeutic encounter. It is an opening then for the therapist to say something like: "Do you need to go inside and connect with anything?", or "Is there something really clear you wish to bring into the room right now?". Very often, the therapist stays with two very simple words - "Whats needed?".
Client's report that therapy based around compassion is a "revelation" - especially if they have had counselling before and it has left them feeling guarded and unsatisfied, even mystified! Sometimes clients do have to visit a couple of counsellors before you find the one for you.
Clients are encouraged to speak from their inner selves and in the present moment, usually starting with: "Right now I am feeling.........". This way, the balance of power between the therapist and the client is maintained. The client is sharing something very real for him/her - in the present moment - which is different to responding to questions that force him/her into their head and maybe to a place that isn't useful for them.
Compassion and spaciousness is offered and sustained by the therapist who gently teaches the client to come out of his/her head space and more into what he/she is feeling - the 'felt sense'. The counsellor stays aware of what is being activated within himself/herself and shows he/she is willing to stay with whatever difficulties the client puts into the room. It is important for the therapist to show they are not afraid to sit with helplessness. They must be with the client, so they don't feel alone in it.
The mindfulness way of working with clients is current, as it seems to be providing a spiritual aspect to therapy - the "something" that has been missing perhaps in the client's life. It does not force a religious view, but rather opens up an unused space within the client - a resource that holds them when the trauma feels overwhelming.
A new level of awareness is gained. Clients 'see' problems and solutions more clearly. They 'see' behaviour from others with more insight and objectivity. Of course, all therapeutic approaches aim to leave the client in this place - more informed and more able to 'see' their problems and how these problems are caused.
The mindfulness approach, however, is more than problem solving. The client brings ALL of their self to the therapy. They have to engage fully and be 'present' with the therapist and the therapist has to know what it feels like to be the client.
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