A holiday comes to an end, the days arrive and you question have I done everything? Is there something I’ve missed. As we get to our last few days here, I feel I’m ready to come back home, but a part of me has loved this break, this opportunity to be away. Counselling is a break from our life. It can be a little holiday that we take for ourselves each week to look inwards and discover the things we did not know about ourselves.
I’ve realised that I am limited in this life by mine own experiences. I’ve done a lot in my life, seen a lot and struggled through much. In Turkey I’ve realised the world offers so much more opportunities for growth through experience. Sometimes the little experiences of a shared Turkish coffee and a conversation can add so much to your life. It really is a case of living each moment. Witnessing the joy on my daughters face as we swirl down a river on a raft. Or the sight of Saklikent gorge. This huge chasms that nature has carved out. An opportunity to climb amongst the tombs of Tylos, a town of ruins built by Alexander the Great. These moments are a great opportunity to realise how much we still have to do. How much we have to see.
Ferris Bueller says “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop once in a while and take a look, you might miss it.!”
I’ve spent a lot of time with people trying to overcome language. Simple use of language when face to face communicates so much more. When your sat in front of someone you see so much more. I guess I’m thinking about nuance again and the little things we lose when online or through WhatsApp and text.
Language is important, the words we use, the tone, the expression. It communicates so much more. In the counselling room, active listening skills, the little movements, the tone and minimal encouragers really help to build the rapport.
I’m going to set myself a goal. I’m going to try and learn Turkish. It’s a passionate language, full of enthusiasm and expression. I think learning another language will also improve my understanding of my own language. It will help me to understand the use of words, the power they have, and when stripped back to the basic words instead of overly complicated language, it will improve my counselling. Allow me to better understand my client instead of relying on what I take for granted. That the tricks of the trade when used only give me a partial understanding of my clients needs.
When I write, I’m aware that sometimes I carefully craft my words, yet when I let my ADHD run free, I strip back the convoluted and a more simple, truer nature comes out. I don’t want to hide behind academic theory and understanding. I want to reduce psycho babble in favour of a more simple approach.
Much like when I fish, reducing my fishing tackles allows me to have a more pure experience and this is something I want to continue in my counselling.
Two people sitting down over a coffee, with a language barrier for me is the perfect metaphor for the client and counsellor. Two strangers with little understanding of each other, but working together to overcome these barriers to reach a mutual goal, a better understanding of ourselves and each other.
Whilst walking into the nearby town, we were passing the local mosque when the Imman beckoned us over. My daughter had a scarf and he gave my wife a head scarf. We stepped inside and it was incredibly cool and beautifully decorated in white and blue tiles. The carpet felt luscious underfoot. There was nothing else. No ornate seating. It seemed very basic. This reminded me of a homeless person who, his life reduced to the clothes on his back stated, of his situation, “When all you have is the clothes on your back and the stars in the sky, there is less clutter between you and God.” Again I find myself returning to this word, simplicity. So much do I clutter myself with distractions and cleverness that I lose something.
When I work with a client, I am often trying to help them unburden themselves with the clutter they have accumulated. Usually based on attitudes and beliefs that they have built up over time. In an exercise once with a client, I asked them to label shoe boxes with things in their life, rent, shopping, children, school runs etc etc. When the held the boxes in both arms I told the to give themselves a hug. This exercise works great with couple work too.
Our lives are fuelled by stuff, by things, some of them important, some of them not so. Yet it is often to ‘not so’ that weigh the most. My head carries a lot of stuff, thoughts and anxieties that do t necessarily help me on a day to day basis and I realise I have to let go more of the things that weigh me down.
I’ve learned here that the only barrier to communication is our refusal to try. I’ve learned that life is about your perspective, how you choose to view the world, that the biggest difference between nations is the failure to realise how similar we are. I’ve learned that simplicity is the key to life. And distraction the cause of much stress.
We all need to have a break from our norms, whether it is a holiday, a weekend trip, a day by a pond with a fishing rod or five minutes in the morning. As long as we realise we can never escape our frailties or our anxieties as they travel with us.
So how will this help me in the counselling room?
I will listen more to my client and to myself in the moment. I will embrace and promote simplicity in the therapeutic process. Notice the little things, the nuances that help build the relationship and help the connection. I will remember there has to be time to look inward in order to live outward.
And I will take time.
A Thirsk Counsellor