Why your counsellor has counselling
Yes, you did read that properly - your counsellor has had, and may even still be having, counselling!
You may already be aware that a part of most counsellors' training is that they must have counselling themselves and, if it isn’t mandatory, it is highly encouraged. This serves two main purposes.
The first being that, especially if you’re training to be a counsellor and have never had counselling before, you need to experience what it’s like to be in the other chair. To know what it is to go through the processes, feelings, emotions that everyone you work with will go through in their own way.
The second reason is that we’ve all got ‘stuff’ hovering in the background and, to work to our best ability, we need to make sure we’re OK with all that ‘stuff’.
Once your counsellor is qualified, it doesn’t stop there. We’re our best friend and worst enemy at times. Best friend because we can generally see what we need to do to look after ourselves and also when we need support beyond that of friends or family. Worst enemy because of the same reason - we are more likely to notice things within ourselves and, therefore, can see when something is wrong. We’re more likely to give ourselves a good talking to and send ourselves to counselling.
It’s this awareness that keeps counsellors going back to counselling themselves and it’s not just for our own benefit but for you, our clients, as well. I often say to people that if we don’t look after ourselves then how can we look after anyone else? That goes for me and all fellow counsellors as well!
We have counselling to help sort out the tangled ball of wool that is our mind. If my mind is still a tangled ball that I haven’t even started to unravel, how can I help you unravel yours? How can I help you to confront your difficulties, acknowledge your emotions and pay attention to how you’re behaving, if I don’t do the same for myself?
Having counselling whenever we start seeing signs that we’re not quite ourselves, or when we’re going through something we feel is going to be difficult, means that we’re better able to help clients with whatever they are going through.
It makes sure that, if you talk about something in your counselling session that is similar to our own experiences, we’re more able to put our own to one side and fully focus on you.
Everyone manages things differently. Get two identical people going through exactly the same thing and they will still navigate it differently. That’s why, as a counsellor, I need to manage my own navigations within my own counselling sessions to be sure that, if I have been through something similar, I am able to put my own reactions aside and focus just on you.
So, you see, your counsellor may well be having counselling as well as counselling you. But this is to look after themselves and make sure that what you get is someone counselling you, focused on you, your needs, your experience and reactions with a clear mind that is in no way being niggled by their own ‘stuff’.
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