Walking up and down the stairs here at Talbot House in Winchester, I have passed this window and view many times, but only the other day did the view truly catch my eye. I am not sure why. I have no idea what it was that caught my eye, drew me out and made me stop, exhale, smile and relax, gazing over the cityscape into the countryside, a diverse and deep landscape. Within this view and experience there is much I can use to explain counselling and maybe my more personal way of working.
Counselling is a collaborative process.
It uses perspective taking, from a subjective view of: “What do you see? What do I see?” to a more complex and integrated view – as if from looking from above – to give an opportunity to see how experiences, thoughts, feeling, emotions and behaviour connect.
Counselling uses the practice of perspective taking to build a therapeutic relationship.
Feeling and showing empathy especially, require the counsellor’s ability to put themselves into the client’s position. Within this perspective taking lies the potential of connection, which can alleviate the pain of feeling alone and isolated. Validating a person’s perspective and understanding them in the context of their experience can be an immensely soothing and healing experience.
Counselling can be a practice of mindful noticing.
What is habitually seen or ignored? What needs to be recognised to see the full picture? What is noticed, is meaningful in the here-and-now. Which meaning is given to what is noticed? This influences how movement is organised. Where would you like to go as you look at the view? What would you like to stay away from? Is there something in this view you would you like to touch? Observing the body, breath, muscle tone give insight into the emotional impact of what is noticed. On a deeper level this can give information about needs, layers of trauma and resources.
In the end I did figure out why I stopped and took in the view. During lockdown I felt rather restricted and penned in which left me tense at times. The golden fields in the distance reminded me of the freedom and joy I feel when I go walking in the South Downs. It’s as simple as that.