Therapy in Berkhamsted: Why counselling isn't just a chat..and why that’s a good thing
If you ever eavesdrop on two people chatting, what is that you notice?
For me I often notice how fast the conversation is, how quickly the exchanges are and sometimes it seems like no sooner has one person stopped speaking before the other one starts. Or I often notice how often one person will start speaking while the other person is still going. We interrupt each other all the time and are often completely oblivious of doing so. Of course there are also lots of nice things that occur as well, people connecting to each other, laughing, finding similarities and sharing their experience. The everyday chat is very different to the kinds of conversations that take place in a counselling session. What a lot of people notice when they start therapy is how much slower the conversation is than the normal pace of a chat. One of the reasons for this is so that the counsellor can really hear what you’re saying. If I want to really hear what you say I need to give you the time to say it, and myself the time to hear it. Importantly I need to allow you the space after you say something so that you can hear it yourself. People often enlighten themselves in a curious and intriguing way when they’re given the space to talk by a recipient that provides the space that good listening provides. Given half the chance, people often fascinate themselves by what comes out of their mouths with the right questions. That can’t happen if we’re swamped by the pace of fast conversation. At my first therapy session (as a client) which is now over 10 years ago, I was startled afterward by realising how calming it was to explore my experience in a way that was slow, measured, like there was no rush, I remember thinking ‘wow this is what useful conversation really feels like!’.
If you ever eavesdrop on two people chatting and one of them has a problem, what do you notice?
I often notice how quickly it is before the word ‘should’ or ‘need;’ makes an appearance. How often have you had the experience where you’ve talked to somebody about a problem you’ve had and no sooner have the words come out your mouth than you’re hearing a response involving instructions or advice about what you should do or what you need to do about it? Of course all of these statements are often meant with the best of intentions, but they often don’t do what they intend to. Somewhere along the line its as if we were all taught the best way of helping someone is to do just come up with advice from our own way of looking at the world and try to convince them that that’s how they should look at things - even though they’re a completely different person with different needs, concerns and feelings. Giving people advice or telling them what they should or need to do can completely shut down and invalidate their experience and rob them of their own discoveries.
It’s often not until you experience being listened to without being swamped by a barrage of ‘shoulds’ that you realise how relieving it is to talk without being advised about what to do about it. As a result of this, there is no pressure, you can have the space to breathe, explore how you feel, go into it more deeply, find out what are all the feelings and thoughts that are hidden unconsciously underneath it all and arrive at somewhere valuable. This kind of exploration provides a dissipation of tension that is completely different to listening to advice or instruction. It’s not like a good counsellor will have nothing to say to you in the conversation, it’s just that their input is unlikely to be instructional, it’s more likely to be facilitative - the kind of input that provides an opening in your experience rather than something that shuts it down; the kind of input that aids you in discovering and helping yourself.
If you think you’d benefit from being listened to or have a problem you’re struggling with and would like to work on it, I’m available for counselling and therapy in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. You can reach me on 07717 515 013 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To hear from people that have worked with me previously, click here