Who? Me?

I hope this article gives any of you who are wavering and are unsure about whether to take the plunge and enter into counselling some support and encouragement.

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Sitting here on a Sunday, I am contemplating the week ahead. Not an unusual Sunday for this counsellor. Call it being mindful or any other way of describing the process of contemplating, I find it very useful. So useful that to think of it as indispensable would be very close to how I experience it.

So, having had breakfast, drunk my coffee and played solitaire, I am following a pattern that I know can lead me into peaceful contemplation. A part of this is about considering the week that was, the events in the week, and how they have impacted me, and how I have dealt with the events and (hopefully) grown. Thinking about the week ahead and how I will deal with it.

So in the week to come, I am about to start personal counselling. Yes – a counsellor being counselled. What at first may sound odd says a lot about counselling. In counselling, a common misconception is that counsellors are "OK", "have got it together" and are able to "deal with life". To the same extent, people who are not counsellors have these attributes, so do counsellors. Yes, we have a bit more knowledge than others and perhaps a bit more self-awareness but they matter little if we cannot recognise them and use them for our own well-being.

To me, the idea that a counsellor would not seek help, to practise what they preach, feels very inauthentic. Dishonest even! How can I see clients and offer the benefits of counselling and not accept the need and benefits for myself?

As counsellors, we learn about the power imbalance in sessions, authenticity, transparency and being congruent. All of which feel relevant here. An example of this is why I try never to refer to clients as 'patients'. It feels odd even using that word here. For me, a patient implies someone who is unwell. Not talking about being counselled feels inauthentic. Transparency is easily spotted by a client when it is not practised and congruence is all about talking the talk and walking the walk.

To use an example, if I have a slow puncture, I have a choice. The choice is to carry on pumping up the tyre at regular intervals or to fix the puncture. Inflating the punctured tyre is inconvenient but effective. For some time it is easier than fixing the puncture, then the inconvenience becomes great enough to cause me to fix the puncture. The other choice is to fix the puncture as soon as possible.

For counsellors, the inconvenience of not fixing the puncture is similar to the idea that when the pain is great enough a solution will be sought. The immediate fixing of the puncture speaks of a knowledge that the puncture will not fix itself – I need to take action to carry on in a way that is functional and acceptable.

Carl Rogers puts it very well when he says a person will move towards what is better naturally (paraphrased).

So back to going into counselling as a counsellor. I have clients who are counsellors so that seems to imply me not being unique. Does it mean I am broken and of no use to myself or others? No, it means, like the punctured tyre, I know something could be better/needs attention. Personal experience allows me to see that issues are better dealt with sooner rather than later. If left, the impact is only bigger, more intractable and requires more effort to deal with.

To sum up, will I not offer counselling while I am having counselling? If I feel the issue affects my practice as a counsellor, I will cease counselling. This time it is not affecting my client work adversely. Does it mean I am broken and not good enough? No, it means that I am fortunate enough to realise I have a need and I need to address it. 

This counsellor feels that by being congruent I am honouring my clients. What is good for clients is also good for me. I will learn, repair and grow, which is beneficial to me. The benefits for the clients may not be noticed by them but will mean I am being the best for clients that I can be. Which is what they are entitled to and deserve.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Chelmsford CM1
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Written by Steve Fayers, Counsellor / Therapist | Certified Trauma Therapist
Chelmsford CM1

I am a person, a counsellor, a parent, a flawed human being who has struggled with life. Struggled with addiction.
I would rather struggle than give in and accept a life that does not meet my needs and wants.
I am trying to be the best person I can be.
"I will not go quietly into that goodnight " (paraphrased Dylan Thomas)

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