Why is my relationship with my counsellor so important?
I only know one thing about all counselling clients before I meet them: they are human. As humans, we are ‘social beings’. This means that relationships, our social groups and our ability to get on with others, are vitally important to all of us. They make us who we are, even if – or perhaps especially if – we appear to have none. For all of us, sometimes relationships with others can seem to be problematic. We can be surrounded by people, and yet still feel isolated; lonely. When that is so, an open and honest relationship with a counsellor can be invaluable in beginning to appreciate some of what may be happening in those other important relationships, with friends, family members, colleagues and loved ones. The relationship between you and your counsellor, acts as a microcosm of your relationships with others.
We all only see ourselves from the inside; we have always lived here inside ourselves, and know it so well that it can feel like the only way of being; “this is how I am, take it or leave it”. The counsellor, without the baggage of history, without any self-serving motivation (other than to help the client) can be honest and genuine in a way that family and friends possibly cannot. He or she is in a great position to be able to mirror back to clients, what others may see and hear on the outside. Often, these two perspectives – our intentions from the inside, and what others perceive on the outside – do not entirely match. We can feel that we are saying something from a position of kindness, but it may ‘come out wrong’, or be misinterpreted, and be heard as something else altogether.
A chance to learn how those words may have been heard by others, together with the opportunity and space to explain how they were meant, can help us to see and hear a little more of what others see and hear from outside of ourselves. This can give a greater, fuller understanding of ourselves, and can also start to help us to recognise how those relationship problems can sometimes become so fraught with misunderstanding.
Equipped with this new insight (perhaps that should be ‘outsight’?), we now have choice where before we had none. This does not mean that you need to ‘become someone else’; it actually gives you the opportunity to become more the real person that you are. Those words, intended from a position of kindness, can with new understanding be reconsidered, and altered so that they are more in tune with what was really meant. New relationships can then begin from this position of ‘congruence’ (words and actions being in tune with thoughts and feelings), existing relationships can ease, and sometimes, even the relationships that have been battered and wounded with misunderstandings, resentment and hurt, can be revisited and renewed.
It is mutual trust, openness and honesty that enables these vital changes to occur. This is one reason why your relationship with your counsellor is so important.