The Hospital Experience - Control versus letting go
There is nothing like requiring hospital intervention and a stay overnight to really awaken our awareness about the amount of control that we really have. There is, I believe a fine balance between controlling and letting go of the outcome of our care - be it mental or physical health.
It is evident how much control we give to doctors who play an almost Godly role in the process. Without questioning or understanding fully what is required from us, we accept their diagnosis and follow their recommendations, however far fetched they might seem. From the moment we are admitted into their care, we feel safe, often letting go and blindly trust where we are being taken.
When exploring this further in relation to our work as counsellors it is important to be aware that from the moment a client steps into the counselling room for a session they often develop an immediate trust with the professional standing in front of them. They want advice on how they should lead their lives and what decisions they should make, how they should conduct their relationships and in doing so they are letting go and trusting.
There needs to be a healthy balance between being involved in our own care and letting go when we need to. Our clients as well as patients find it difficult to understand that both doctors and therapists do not have all the answers. They are not perfect, sorted human beings and their role is not to play God but to support the client or patient. The answer ultimately has to come from them not from us. We purely facilitate a process of change.
The doctor might advise certain courses of action after a diagnosis but it is up to the patient to take a step further and decide what is best for them. This might take the form of conducting an appointment with another doctor or specialist for a second opinion. As well as this, asking the doctor why certain tests have been conducted. Although there is a certain amount that we have to ‘let go’, we also need to make informed decisions and be part of the process of our own physical care, not simply being led.
In the same token, whilst in Therapy a client is not there to be led by their counsellor. They are there to be part of the process of their own mental health. The client can question, explore, and change counsellor if they are not content with how the sessions are being conducted. It is all about behaving as autonomous clients and patients. It is easy to blame a doctor or counselor for getting it wrong, but we have to ask what part we played, a passive one following blindly in the direction we are given, or behaving as an independent person who is involved in the process. Ultimately it is all about balancing the control– Asking when we don’t understand and taking the steps to inform ourselves further, and letting go –Once we have made a decision or been fully part of the process, letting go of the outcome.
As clients and patients we need to understand that both sides are important – controlling and letting go, the key is not to slide to only one direction or the other, but achieving a healthy balance and taking responsibility for the outcome of our mental as well as physical care.
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