Getting to the root...
I was thinking of a couple of examples where roots take a role in everyday life. Gardeners will know that if they are preparing a plot of land which once housed a tree or bush, just how deep roots can travel underground. Tree roots are the anchor point of the tree itself; it's the source of life as it absorbs water from the ground. They provide the nutrients and chemicals from the earth to enable and sustain growth.
Roots can be deep-seated and generate goodness (if you're a tree/bush). But what of the other roots - those nerve endings that lead to extreme pain in a tooth?
My guess is that most of us have experienced a toothache or worse. The pain can be excruciating and brings discomfort to the sufferer. That is until a visit to the dentist gets to the root of the problem. I remember having such pain in a tooth which I asked to be extracted. The pain leading up to that extraction was just about bearable. Once that tooth was removed, the pain was gone. The sense of relief was evident when the culprit was taken out.
Just as gardeners have problems removing deep roots underground and dentists relieve pain by getting to the root of the problem, so can be said for the therapist who is listening to a troubled individual pouring their heart out.
Counsellors who stand by their clients as they explore the root of their problems will have the same effect as the gardener or dentist. They are allowing the client to delve deeper into their situation. In doing so, they may be digging into real pain or suffering. Most of the time, when we get to the root of the problem, there will be hurt, and pain at the revisitation of something that has been so deeply suppressed that the individual has been able to cope without confronting it.
Once that area has been explored again, there will be feelings connected with an initial trauma. Suddenly, all those emotions and feelings will arise again as we begin to extract.
The anaesthetic that the therapist will be using is to show congruence and empathy, and to listen intently, affirming and not dismissing those feelings/emotions. That is the basic requirement for counselling.
Deep-seated roots will take some time to dislodge and remove, and a degree of patience may be required as our client enters this long journey to recovery. Walking that journey with them is a real privilege and you begin to see the root cause being weakened and the client showing signs of healing and recovery.
It can take a long time for the client to unravel and process the long-term pain and struggles. Allowing space for that unravelling and allowing your client to embrace the therapy (giving ownership to them) can be a reassurance that the therapy is progressing and that the client is healing.
Trust will build between the client and counsellor as they work closer together; when the counsellor walks the valley with the client.
It takes a brave person to confront something that may have been suppressed and subconsciously forgotten for many years. Often, scratching the surface of a person's issue won't be enough and encouragement for the client to dig deeper will be a massive step to their recovery and healing.
I would like to encourage readers to explore the root issues with their clients and walk beside them on their journey.
If you are someone who needs to confront an issue that has been long suppressed, take courage. Someone is there for you to walk with you. You're not alone... seek that help.