Counselling and
stress management
in Southampton

Awareness and listening

If you recall any times in your life where you’ve been deeply heard and accepted by another, I imagine these moments of quiet connection were special ones.


There are many wonderful counselling traditions. Phil Mollon, a highly experienced clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, reminds us that whatever approach is used, the ability of the therapist to listen deeply and empathically is probably the most important part of the therapeutic mix:


'I feel it is best for us all – in our diverse fields – to lower the hype about ‘psychological therapies’. They are all helpful to some extent with some clients – but none have all the answers. The most important skill of the therapist is to listen – to listen deeply and with his or her whole being.' Phil Mollon


'Meditation is not evasion;
it is a serene encounter with reality.'
Thich Nhat Hanh

Putting awareness in the driving seat

I see listening, awareness and mindfulness as very similar. We can listen to others with acceptance and openness to what they're experiencing. Awareness involves doing the same thing with ourselves. As your ability to listen well to yourself grows through counselling, mindfulness and/or other practices, you’re choosing to put the vital quality of here and now awareness in the driving seat of your life.


I see learning to do this as both the way and the goal of helping, hence why asking what's in the driving seat are the first words on this site. It's a simple idea but, like many guiding principles, putting this reliably into practice can be a lifetime's work.

'Awareness is a healing light that can show us what's going on and help us make wiser choices.'

Breathing space

For me, therapy, like meditation and Autogenic Therapy, is mainly about developing awareness. Awareness is a healing light that can show us what's going on and help us make wiser choices. Here's a three minute breathing space that may help you slow down, relax, connect to yourself more fully and maybe remember what it's like to have awareness in your driving seat.

Mindful breathing

Thick Nhat Hahn describes eight mindful breathing practices from the Buddhist tradition. These include awareness of breath and following the breath (1 and 2), awareness of the body and calming the body (3 and 4), generating joy and happiness (5 and 6) and awareness of pain and calming/soothing pain (7 and 8). I see important overlaps between these important ideas and how the Gestalt approch seeks to develop awareness.