There are many ways to frame the question.
"What happens in counselling?"
"What is counselling?"
"How will counselling help me?"
I, myself, have spent a lot of time reading websites, blog posts and professional profiles of fellow Counsellors to see how they go about describing what they they do and how they do it.
The first thing is that everyone has a slightly different take on it. However most of them are using very similar language so even though the words used may be different, the message tends to be pretty familiar.
Some information may go into greater depth about the process, potential issues and possible ways that the counselling will address them.
But after reading lots of them I couldn't help but wonder whether the entire description could be put in much simpler terms.
Ask a Counsellor what their philosophy is towards their practice and you will hear some very colourful and interesting answers. You may hear about the safe space they try to create to enable personal growth. You will likely be informed of how you may be exploring past events in order to examine the impact they may have had on your personality. You could be reassured at the prospect of someone holding your hand as you walk this part of your life journey.
I must point out right now that I am not in any way trying to suggest that it is wrong to give out this information. It's vital that the potential client understands what is on offer and what may be involved during counselling sessions. They will want to feel safe. They will probably need to look at things that have happened. They will have to consider whether they act the way they do as a result of these events. The Counsellor should be there as the therapy work is done in order that the client does not feel alone. This is all true.
I just wonder whether there could be some merit in explaining things in more everyday terms. Will people be able to identify more with language that closer resembles the way they would actually speak?
For example :
"I believe that people have the tools to solve life's challenges but sometimes it's hard to fully understand how we can put those tools to the best use."
"When life is tough we don't always know how to make it better on our own."
I could fill page after page with examples like this but instead I am going to try to explain counselling in the simplest terms I can which still give the full picture to the client.
Counselling is talking to another person about how you are feeling. Also how you feel about yourself and your life. The difference between talking to a Counsellor or confiding in a friend is that there will be no judgement. A Counsellor does not have an opinion or interest in getting you to do or say a particular thing, such as a friend may. You can literally speak however you want, whenever you want, about whatever you want. Because effective Counselling depends on you and how you feel, the focus will be on YOU and how YOU feel, not the view of the Counsellor.
The more you talk, the more you say. The more you say, the more you hear. The more you hear, the more you find out about yourself. The more you find out about yourself, the greater the chance you will find the answers that you need.
All the Counsellor does is be present while all this is happening, however long it takes. That's it. No special magic tricks. No smoke and mirrors.
The only thing that differentiates one Counsellor from another is HOW they do it. We all have slightly different styles and approaches but we all want the client to succeed.
I will be making an effort, moving forward, to help clients in this process by speaking in a language that is easiest to understand. I want the clients to feel that they have all the information and fully understand it before they commit to working with me. I feel it's the least I can do.....