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CHAPTER FOURTEEN: What happens in a counselling session?

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

THIS DEPENDS, at least in part, on your counsellor's way of working. It is useful to have some idea of his or her orientation before you start, as whilst all approaches share the common aim of helping you to move forward, they do so in different ways. These were reviewed in an earlier chapter.

Unless someone else has already done an assessment, as happens with agencies, at the start of the initial session the counsellor will likely begin by asking you some questions about your background and family history. This is so that when you talk about the issues that have brought you to counselling, he or she will be able to decide how best to address your concerns.

Events in childhood can have a significant effect on our outlook on life even if we haven't realized it. Was our family close or were our parents separated? Who brought us up? Whom did we look upon as the most important influence in our early years? Was our childhood happy?

Do we have siblings and if so, how did we get on, and do we remain in contact? Even questions about how we spend our leisure time can provide useful material. Factors like the death of a close relative, an experience of violence or abuse, or alternatively a successful career move, or embarking on a new relationship can affect, sometimes profoundly, how we think of life at any given time.

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CHAPTER FOUR: What does counselling set out to do?

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

ASKED WHAT they think happens in counselling, people will often describe it as having a chat with someone who will tell you what you've got wrong and give you advice or instructions on how to fix it. But counsellors never tell their clients-the term used to identify those coming for counselling-what to do. Just as well, if you think about it. The last thing we need is to find ourselves scurrying about trying to accommodate someone else's directions. Before long, we would find ourselves powerless to make our own decisions, devastated if we fail to meet their chosen agendas, and attached to them for life!

Counselling is about self-help; an active, collaborative process designed to enable you to explore unresolved issues in a secureenvironment and to better understand why they may be causing you difficulties. It can be bewildering trying to work out how one can have arrived at a particular and perhaps stubborn way of looking at things, particularly if the consequences are clearly unproductive. But the recall of life experiences is selective-it has to be or we'd be swamped with a mass of information, much of it irrelevant. Various emotional factors, or events we perceive as significant, influence what we store in our minds and what we delete from memory. Equally, however, there may be occasions where a crucial moment gets lost but the aftermath remains. A single incident of being bullied at school, perhaps long forgotten, can lead to an unconscious need to please as a form of self-protection which extends into adult life. A failure to make an impact on someone we wanted to impress as a child can lead to the concept that if someone rejects us there must be something wrong with us.

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CHAPTER NINE: The counselling environment today

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

When Freud practised, all his patients were women, all were hysterics, and all were subjected to psychoanalysis or free association. Throughout the history of psychotherapy, individual approaches have often been modified or combined to enhance results or to reflect the pressures of modern living.

For example, Person-Based Cognitive Therapy or PBCT combines CBT with Rogerian perspectives together with the concept of “mindfulness”, which lays particular emphasis on immediate experience. In this respect, it shares a platform with Gestalt in which, you will recall, clients are encouraged to concentrate on their feelings, thoughts, and emotions as they experience them in session. Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT) is another collaborative approach which combines psychodynamic practice with Kelly’s personal construct theory and cognitive-behavioural techniques. Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) draws on the work of John Bowlby to help families whose children have detachment problems, whilst Parent—Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) integrates behavioural and play modalities to improve parent—child relationships.

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CHAPTER TEN: How do I know who might be right for me?

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES, but you can take steps to minimize the risk of a relationship that doesn't work. When you make contact, give the counsellor a very brief description of the issues you would bring to them such as “I am having difficulty controlling my temper” or “I find myself becoming anxious for no reason” and ask him or her how they would approach such a problem. A professional therapist should be able to give you a clear, intelligible reply. You might also ask when they last provided counselling for someone in a similar situation. The way questions like these are answered can be a useful indicator of a counsellor's skills in these areas.

The counsellor, too, is likely to ask you some questions, but don't expect a full consultationover the phone! From this initial discussion you should get some perception as to whether this is someone with whom you could productively share confidences. Feel free also to ask about their qualifications, which professional organization they're a member of, and how much experience they have. Experience is not just a matter of how many years a counsellor has been qualified, but how many hours he or she has actually worked with clients. Someone counselling for ten years but who sees only one or two clients a week will actually have far less experience than someone seeing six clients a week for half that time. An important factor in determining how successful the outcome will be is how you connect with the counsellor, and the initial conversation you have with them can be helpful in this regard.

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CHAPTER TWO: The age of psychoanalysis

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

When Freud and Jung first met, a huge rapport immediately developed. The story goes that they talked virtually without a break for thirteen hours! Jung saw Freud as a father figure, his own father having died when he was young. Freud regarded Jung, twenty years his junior, as his heir-apparent. But a friendship that started so promisingly and blossomed for some seven years, nevertheless ended in acrimony, accusations, counter-accusations, and mutual dislike. Was the breakdown inevitable? Although it may not provide all the answers, one of the essential elements of counselling is recognizing the impact of significant events in childhood, our own every bit as much as those of our clients. Social background, relationships with parents, siblings, and other family members, and the established criteria for what constituted good or bad behaviour, success or failure, all play their part. As Aristotle said: “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.”

From the outset, Freud’s and Jung’s backgrounds were very different. Freud was the eldest of five children from his father’s second marriage, and his mother’s favourite. She encouraged him to be ambitious and always believed he would be a success. Freud was proudly Jewish in an anti-Semitic culture and determined to prove himself. Money was tight, but his parents scraped together enough to send him to medical school. Freud thus started his adult life imbued with confidence and the determination to merit his parents’ investment in him and, through success, to avoid the strictures of poverty.

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