The intention of life is to experience every moment. Live everything. Our hopes and dreams are our futures not yet recognised.
What this little blog book is, and more importantly, is not…
This is aimed at being an introduction to counselling, helping and therapy. It is not a ‘how to’ book. It is simply a document of my own personal experiences as someone who has come to learn, grow and work in the helping/therapeutic environment. I hope it gives the reader a little bit of an insight into the helping and caring profession and the lengths that are needed from the individualto work in this field. I suppose this can also be seen as a ‘self-help’ book; however that is not its sole intention. I hope that this can be of benefit to people contemplating entering therapy. I hope it will maybe remove some of the stigma’s and fears that are sometimes associated with mental health and going to therapy.
It is simply this counsellors perspective of the personal dilemma’s and situations which people might face when starting counselling, and an opportunity to realise and experience some of those things. It will also hopefully give an insight into the ‘being’ of a therapist and will hopefully answer the question as to how and why I, and other people become therapists and counsellors, and perhaps it can help dismiss some myths and pre-conceptions about therapists as a whole. Then, maybe when seeking therapy, they won’t appear to be anything other than you… Just a human, being human.
The helping profession is not a ‘job’ like working at a factory, it is not a coat that you put on before you go out. It is very much a way of being. An attitude that develops more each day as we develop as people. This is most definitely not a text book and therefore will not contain complicated therapeutic terms and theoretical knowledge. (There are far greater writers and academics that can, have and will continue to write those kinds of books.) This is about the personal philosophical challenge of being a people person in the therapeutic environment. ‘First, A story’ is a person’s account of their experience in reaching out and asking for help. It’s a human story of a person who becomes lost and seeks to find their way home.
We spend such a short time upon this earth and become so enslaved in society’s constraints that I believe we can lose who we are. Life is so precious. Experiences both good and bad help us to shape as fully rounded human beings.
A Sikh gentleman once said in a training session I was on,
“God gave us two ears and one mouth and we should use them accordingly…” Although this originally came from the stoic Greek philosopher Epictetus.
When we first learn to listen, (and I say learn for I do not believe we listen a great deal to ourselves and others. We hear. Which is different from listening.) We start the first step towards wisdom. This first step starts when we listen to ourselves.
By becoming still within, we can find our own peace and realise our path. Through this we learn to look, really look. Only when we can truly look at ourselves and our path do we then begin to see.
This becomes growth, and leads to change.
First, A Story.
Like a shadow promising rain. This feeling returned. This lack of motivation. Listless and low. He felt the weight, pushing down like a Sherpa overloaded, trudging uphill with nowhere to rest. It had been so gradual, like a slow descent into a cave. Slowly, almost invisibly abseiling downwards into darkness.
Now, like his grip on the rope had slipped, he found himself plummeting further.
The weight he felt from work, the responsibility, and the ‘being told’ about his clients. The energy and passion he’d put into working with them. All four relapsed. His clients. His responsibility. That was it. The final nail in the coffin, the one that pushed the buttons…
Of course the sequence had been set up in motion before hand. This gradual descent came subtly. Getting behind on bills, eating little at irregular times, and going to bed late… plagued by worries and anxieties. These obscure little thoughts, running round in his brain at unsociable hours like a hamster on a wheel.
However, so slight was this build up that he failed to recognize the signs. The signs he’d experienced before… a familiar patter of unmanageability. And then the last nail hammered home, sparking of this crippling feeling of helplessness. The feeling of inadequacy around the most simplest of tasks. Even making himself a coffee in the afternoon required a diploma in organization.
And with that nail, he cracked and splintered. He walked out of the meeting and outside. Hurled his favorite cup against the wall and crumpled to the floor… crying, sobbing.
This was it. His realization, “I can’t cope… I’m no good at this, I can’t deal with it anymore…” Familiar feelings of failure and worthlessness returned and he wasn’t sure what to do. How to deal with this.
Friends tried to console him, the pain of his lostness evident in their eyes, pleading to find a way to help him. And yet there was none. They listened to him and held him as he cried.
Finally, in a meeting with his manager. He threw in the towel. Asked what was wrong, he simply said the words he dreaded thinking, feeling and saying…
“I can’t cope!” The words echoed inside his head, and the office. His manager sat and listened to him, as once more he re-iterated… “I can’t cope!” And he cried. Right there, in front of his manager. He openly admitted his frustrations and lostness. And his manager listened. Patiently and with compassion. He was told to take time off work, and his manager promised to look at cutting his work schedule down.
All it had needed was that admission. Three simple words. “I cannot cope!” And he had been listened to.
He decided to get further help. Time off work meant some rest, a lightened workload meant some relief, but he went to the Doctors and again, threw in the towel and asked for help.
Prescribed, was a course of anti-depressants. Diagnosed, depression. This label, that told him there was something wrong with him. Frustratingly, unlike a broken arm, it was not something he could show other people… So they wouldn’t know he was really ill.
His doctor also offered him counseling. And inside, he knew he needed to talk about this. The fear rose again. “Here again!” Back in therapy. Talking to a stranger. The idea of being the client again after so long. To open up issues that he thought were dealt with long ago, and yet. What other options were there?
His appointment came through quickly. And on a day like so many days, he found himself at the health centre. Sat patiently, wondering where to start. With the behaviors, the sleeplessness, the feelings of not being able to cope? The thoughts rushed through his mind even as he found himself being led into the room by his counselor. How could he start? Where could he start? She sat opposite him. A stranger, smiling. And the words he needed to say just came out.
“Im really struggling at the moment… I can’t cope…”
– In tomorrow’s little book blog , the START of the process.
A Thirsk Counsellor