Talking Through Difficulties
The way the counselling, or talk therapy process happens depends on what each client wants and needs from therapy. The first session is usually devoted to establishing a clear picture of each client’s unique circumstances including their strengths, resources, support systems, values, goals, longterm dreams, and current areas of challenge or dissatisfaction.
Although the counselling process is tailored to each person’s needs, my general approach is outlined here. I believe that emotional and psychological healing is also a process of learning. Based on this principal, my goal as a counsellor is to assist my clients to learn the skills necessary to develop deeper relationships with themselves, to listen compassionately, to understand, and equally hold themselves accountable and follow through with actions that will begin to create concrete change.
We often begin by focusing on and understanding together, the complex relationship between a person's thoughts, feelings, and actions in the context of their present life situation and in the context of their specific cultures, identities, and beliefs. I believe that there is always wisdom in the places that feel painful and stuck and oftentimes these can be rooted in past events. Sometimes it is important to explore the past, and the feelings and beliefs that were created during times of distress. This understanding might bring some relief and also allows more choice about how to manage intense reactions (thoughts/feelings/sensations/beliefs) stemming from past experiences.
Understanding the situation, or gaining insight into why things are the way they are, is an important part of the process. In my experience, however, achieving insight and understanding is not always enough to create lasting change. For this reason, as a practitioner I tend to strongly encourage my clients to identify goals and specific actions they can take to change or enhance the way they are coping with difficulties. Usually, at least a small part of each session is spent exploring strategies and creative solutions that make sense for the client given their unique circumstances. Taking just small steps towards change, over time, will begin to transform the bigger picture of a person's overall life experience.
Through the process of learning the skills of insight and understanding, followed by actions and strategies for enhanced coping, it becomes possible for people to create the freedom, strength, and ability to enhance their potential and quality of life in the present moment.