Why are you where you're at?
People usually enter into counselling because they have an issue (or issues) of some kind in their life which is causing discomfort and which they would like to resolve. As a result, they are, perhaps unwittingly, seeking change. However, for some, this creates a dilemma. On the one hand, they would like to feel better but, on the other, they may be afraid of what they might 'turn into'. They fear they may regret some of the changes; "I won't be my old self", or "I may not like what I become". I sense these may be very serious fears for some who prefer to think 'better the devil I know' and, consequently, choose not to enter into the process.
Given that a client enters into counselling wishing to make changes, how likely is it that any of the fears felt by some will happen? In all the years I've been counselling, not one of my clients has ever expressed regret about what they have become. Quite the opposite. I strongly believe that's because the person-centred approach is non-directive, and is trusting in the innate tendency (known as the actualising tendency) of human beings to find the fulfilment of their potentials.
I don't 'do' person-centred counselling; I try to live, and 'be', person-centred. It is my 'way of being', and it is a never-ending process. There are things which crop up that, previously, had been out of my awareness. Such a realisation comes as a shock. However, once in my awareness, I have a choice. I can choose to address it or I can choose to ignore it. The former can be challenging. It may be a thought or behaviour that I have had all my life. As 'old habits die hard', making the change may take several attempts, as it can be so easy to fall back into the 'default' position. However, I don't beat myself up but accept I've been doing the best I could knowing what I knew. Change is an option when such a choice is recognised. Which of the options to take will depend upon the question "what's in my best interest?". So, as with clients, any change is being made through choice, and it's the client who chooses what changes, if any, to make.
There is no 'quick fix' in counselling, nor are clients going to be told what to do, which can be disappointing for some. Coping or management strategies may be sought which could be successful to a degree. But, the surest way of dealing with an issue is to discover what is/are the underlying issue(s) and resolve it/them, and that may take time. A large proportion of these often begin in childhood. Parenting manuals don't arrive with each child. New parents may rely on books or the internet for guidance, and/or on the parenting they experienced, which is understandable since this was the only parenting they knew. Their parents, in turn, may have done the same (see Philip Larkin's poem 'This be the Verse'). So, it could be a case of 'the blind leading the blind'.
However well-intentioned, or good, they may appear, no parent can get it 100% 'correct', whatever it is, especially as each child is unique and each child doesn't arrive with her, or his, own user manual. Much also depends upon how a child interprets what is said, or done, to them, and what feelings are evoked and/or experienced. These are powerful, unconscious messages that become our inner voice. It is in the early years of our life that our sense of self-worth and self-esteem is established... or not. Is it any wonder why most, if not all of us, are 'messed up' in some way in our childhood?
Even when we become physically mature adults, we may not have grown up emotionally, especially if we have experienced uncaring parents or significant life events, such as;
- parents getting divorced
- the death of one or both of them
- the death of other significant adults
- physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- life-changing accidents
- other traumatic experiences
- unpleasant treatment by peers or elders
On top of all that, modern life is full of distractions, temptations, and pressure from the media, advertisers, video games, and the like. Some may go along with the crowd, the current trends, or allow themselves to be influenced by celebrities, pop idols, soap opera characters, bloggers, social media personalities, etc, and completely ignore, or be unaware of, what is in their best interest. As children, we may have been told not to be selfish, but sometimes this is the very thing we need to be. Not in a greedy, egotistical manner, but one in which we look after our 'self'. If we don't, no one else will!
So, is there any wonder why more and more people are seeking counselling for help? Thank goodness there isn't the stigma there once was about seeing a 'shrink'. It is good to talk to someone who, in a secure and confidential environment, offers unconditional positive support, and is non-judgemental and non-directive. Yes, friends and family can be helpful and supportive, but they, perhaps for selfish (albeit unconscious) reasons, may tell you what you want to hear, not necessarily what you need to hear.
Counselling is challenging. There is a need for being honest and open with your 'self', to take responsibility for your words and actions, and to acknowledge your feelings. This leads to greater self-awareness and understanding of your 'self'. It helps enormously if we know and have an understanding of 'why I am where I'm at'. The better we relate to our 'self', the better we relate to others, and this sense will permeate all aspects of your life.
What greater gift can you give to yourself than a few sessions of counselling to assist you in discovering your true self?
"An unexamined life is not worth living" - Socrates