Why telling your story matters in therapy
Often in counselling, you may find you begin the therapeutic work by telling stories to your counsellor, often about things that may have happened to you and that have been causing you concern or frustration. For some people, this can be both useful and distressing, as you may end up reliving the emotions attached to the experience.
Often in counselling, we may become masterful storytellers, embellishing them with clear beginnings, middles and endings, and attaching lessons learnt that we take forward into the future so we don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Stories are important as they enable us to make sense of who we are, and how we operate within the worlds we find ourselves in. There is also something therapeutic in the ‘telling’. Speaking a story out aloud can enable us to process the experience, and may, with the help of a counsellor, allow you to get in touch with the feelings that came up during the time of the event.
Some people argue that stories can feel cathartic, allowing you to purge yourself of the emotions you were presented with, and maybe with some distance, allow you to question why you felt something or behaved in a certain way.
For a counsellor they are also ‘telling’ as they are revealing something about you, what things cause you concern, what triggers emotions, and hopefully what and why these things matter to you. Through reflections and observations, and an attempt to make sense of these stories, hopefully you can process those emotions and understand why you may have those emotional responses, and ultimately work towards a self-awareness that can facilitate future change.
Therefore don’t be afraid to keep telling your stories, or feel that they are not worth your counsellors time, they are the starting point for the therapeutic process to begin and allow you to question, challenge and make sense of those events.
About the author
Warren is a person-centred counsellor who works with adults and young people from a wide range of backgrounds. He enables people to explore their experiences and feelings, in order to understand and gain some clarity with regards to their mental health, and how they might manage and cope with it in the future. He is based in Norwich, Norfolk.
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