Counselling involves exploring how ingredients like these mix together in the bubbling, ever-changing casserole of our mind:
Awareness. Our ability to witness and be present.
Relatedness. The who and what we’re connecting with.
Cognitions. Thoughts, memories, expectations, images and beliefs.
Feelings. Our emotions and the needs that drive them.
Body process. Sensations, posture, breathing, movement and touch.
Actions. The words we speak and the things we do.
There’s a lot going on here and it all links and moves. For example, if you recall a happy time with someone you get/got on with well, what starts to happen if you allow yourself to settle into that memory? The above threads probably start to weave a rich, familiar pattern you associate with that person. Now bring to mind a slightly painful experience with someone else where there was more distress and conflict in your relationship. You'll probably find yourself looking at a very different tapestry. Now become aware of your breathing for a while. Connect as best you can with your breath and notice what happens. Try a breathing space if you want to bring more awareness to this practice.
Dr Gabor Maté is a great spokesperson for the value of counselling and other healing traditions that help us explore and break free from the deeply engrained protective habits, including addictions, that we can all use to manage psychological pain. This video introduces some important therapeutic ideas you might find helpful.
As I check in again with the diverse ingredients of the mind listed at the top of this page and reflect on the deep truths shared by Dr Maté, I feel grateful to have found an approach to therapy that is right for me and to have been able to share this in an enabling way with my wonderful clients over the years. I'm also aware of being part of a diverse and lively therapy family. In counselling as in life, there really is so much richness to experience and explore.
So, put some sandwiches and a flask of tea or coffee in your backpack and make sure you've got a compass, a good map and some comfy, sturdy walking boots. It's time to hit the road. Need some inspiration to get the next steps of your psychological travels off to a good start? These wise words may help.