Why have counselling? - by Genevieve Morrissey, Holistic Counsellor
There is still a perception dearly held by many people that to seek out counselling is to somehow be giving in or admitting to some sort of weakness or character flaw of not being able to cope, and they hold up being able to cope as the Holy Grail of life. It’s the pinnacle of being in control and having some mastery of this thing called life. The bitter irony is, of course, that most of the masters would say control is the last thing you want. In fact, the very notion that you’re ever in control of anything other than your own mind is one of the grandest illusions of all.
There is also another strongly held perception that still lingers which says you need to feel really stuck or even broken before you should put your hand up for help, that your everyday trials and tribulations don’t rate highly enough to warrant outside help, that your worries and concerns are trivial compared to others and you should be able to push though, live with or get past whatever it is and if you just did A, B or C you’d be okay. Well, that’s what so many books and friends and movies tell us, isn’t it?
As I reflect on the nature of counselling and the clients I see I am left wondering how I can change an outsider’s view of what counselling is. How can I undo the perception that it’s only for certain people with “real issues”, or that if you have counselling you will be hauled into a world of analytical mumbo jumbo where the counsellor will question your take on life, blame your parents for everything and dredge up every unhappy or clumsy moment since you were born? And what about that fear that you could lose what bit of sanity you have left?
There is no magic involved. Most people have a deep slow-burning desire to be authentic, and the older we become, the further we deviate from our true selves. Yet, the more we are exposed to the harshness of life, the more pressure we feel from within to find the essence of who it is we really are. We know when we are lying to ourselves about being okay, but we have become so expert at it that we can kid ourselves that just this one time, oh and then the next, won’t matter in the bigger scheme of things. It will all even out, won’t it? But the authenticity meter running silently in the depth of our hearts knows, and it tries to tell us in a variety of ways, giving us this experience or that experience over and over and over again. Still we don’t want to listen. It’s too uncomfortable to change, so we coast along until we hit the next bump in the road.
How many bumps and how many roads we have to go down before we start getting desperate is anyone’s guess. Everyone is different. It’s at these points though that we have the golden opportunity to put a hand up and say: “I’m not sure how to do this.” Sadly, here still people feel that they should be able to solve their own problems, and what I find even more exasperating is that most are totally oblivious to the great relief counselling can provide. How it can make sense of the nonsensical. How, by becoming conscious of a habit or stubbornly held belief about ourselves, we can almost instantly bring respite from a constantly whirling mind. When you stop and take the time to challenge the non-stop uncontrolled prattle that fills your head, it can be a shock to you to realise that you, yes YOU, can be in charge, not your totally undisciplined bossy know-it-all mind that sits on your shoulders like a parrot ordering you about, telling you what can and can’t do and reminding you constantly just how many serious shortcomings you have.
We can waste so much time caught in this trap of believing that there is nothing we can do about ourselves and our lot. This is just the way I am! All the time holding fast to a misguided belief that we are not good enough for this or for that, and in any case someday it will, with a bit of luck, sort itself out and we will be able to be on top of things, have the perfect relationship, job, children or house. It’s always in the future though, isn’t it? Not in the here and now, leaving you constantly on the emotional treadmill.
Phew!! That’s exhausting, right? One day goes into the next and the next, and when you sneak time to look up 5 or 10 years have scooted past and you are still covering the same ground, still listening to the parrot.
This is not normal. You may look around at everyone else in our world and say, yes it is, this is life now and we need to suck it up and get on with it. So, this is where counselling can step in and help you challenge this crazy view of what life has become. Where counselling can show you that you don’t have to be broken or damaged to desire a healthy change that can produce a more wholehearted you and a more holistic and rewarding way to live your life. It doesn’t have to be long-term or drag every last bit of crud up from your past. Sometimes it is handy to have someone to validate your experience of being you and then to help you map out where to next and how best to navigate and negotiate your way there.
I liken it to finding an experienced tour guide when you are down on your luck in a foreign city and you have been going around in circles in the Ancient Quarter for days. No matter which turn you take, door you open or bus you climb on, you can’t manage to find your way out and nobody speaks your language. Your trip has become a frustrating excursion with familiar groundhog moments and a real potential for turning into a nightmare. Finally, you stop and ask for help, and someone points you to the tourist guide bureau. Here you find relief at last, someone that is interested in your story, where you have come from and where you need to go. Someone to look at the itinerary with you who can help you sort the bogus from the genuine. Someone to help guide you to where it is you need to be. From here, at last, you get to have the wonderful experience that enticed you in the beginning, the one that you knew was there all along.
Is it time to walk down another street?
by Genevieve Morrissey
Genevieve is a holistic counsellor passionate about reconnecting people to themselves, their communities and their environment. To find out more visit here