When I think of going to counsel, I picture people sitting together. Pondering. Sharing. Solving a problem, large or small. I think of stiff chairs around a huge rectangular table, or of a group sitting casually, cross legged around a fire.
A person I know said, as if it were a secret, “We started to see a counselor”.
We should all be seeing a counselor. And it shouldn’t be embarrassing, something to hide, or really even something to talk about with others. Just a part of life. Boring. Normal.
Most people do sit in counsel, with someone. Someone hears the words, listens to the stories, knows of the other’s pain, sorrow, and accomplishments. But does everyone receive counseling?
And is the definition of counseling “being heard”, or is counseling “solving a problem”?
It would take an entire book for me to list the faux pas made by paid counselors in my world. They are human too. Sometimes too human. It is important to remember that, especially if you subscribe to my idea that we should all be seeing them.
I have been a huge proponent of ongoing marriage/relationship counseling. If we had someone in our world that checked in with us a couple times a year, think of how much healthier all communication would be! And how small issues would not grow into huge explosions, left unchecked for too long.
Seeing somebody with the title of therapist? Know your goal. Know the role you want a counselor to take, and be clear. Most of us want to grow, to move beyond old stories.
Ram Dass mentioned that, at Harvard, he didn’t really want his clients to heal. His ego wanted them to be sick so he could be the one who was well. And, he wanted to keep his clients, not be continually looking for new ones. That is self realization. He knew himself well. A goal for me.
A couple decades back, Cathy mentioned a method of counseling that her coworkers used. It was a set number of sessions, six I think, and brought people through a process to solution. My kind of counseling! Tackle the goal!
For people who are using friends, it might be worth recognizing that. It will keep you out of a pickle. Alison Armstrong mentions the “listening” element as “holding the bucket”. Her training advice is that if you want someone to listen and not offer solutions, let the person know, and set a time limit for your download. People can only hold the bucket for so long and no more.
If you are looking for guidance and solutions, ask for those. Ask for listening, then ask for ideas.
We are not taught these things. Why are we not taught how to communicate well? And people are different. Each person needs something unique.
Oh, how I wish for us all, my perfect image of the counsel.