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What's it like to experience counselling?

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

When I first started on my journey to become a Counsellor my tutor used an analogy that has stuck with me ever since. I will pass it on to you in the hope it gives you an idea of how my preferred style of counselling works and why it can be so effective......

Imagine I am standing at a garden gate. I can see how the path winds through the front garden and then reaches the front door. You are standing on the other side of that door.

Inside your house are many rooms, furniture and belongings that represent your life and everything that has happened in it. There will be dark rooms and light rooms. corners that contain things that are covered in dust and even parts that haven't been seen in years. Cupboards, drawers and boxes full of things that are important to you, in some way.

There will be items out on display for all to see and there will be private things you keep hidden away. Some things will be familiar and others will be unusual or even confusing.

I cannot see anything at all inside the house until you're able to open the door and invite me in but before we get anywhere near that I have to negotiate all the obstacles in your front garden. Rocks, stinging nettles, shrubs, fences. These are there for self preservation and as a way for you to protect yourself. These obstacles could represent things like the fact you may not trust me yet. Maybe you've been hurt or let down before. You may be a very private person and are concerned about letting anyone, let alone me, a relative stranger, even get close to seeing what you have in your house. No matter how long it takes me to get to your front door I am prepared to persevere because I know these obstacles in your garden are there for a reason and I fully respect what you need to go through to allow me to get closer to your door.

Then, one day, I reach your door. The hope is that we will have built up enough trust at this point for you to open it, just a little. At your invitation I can then step gently over the threshold and wait with you while you decide what parts of your house you'd like to look at. I will then walk with you, around the rooms and support you as you look at all these things that represent parts of your life. The hope now is that you may be prepared to look at them differently or in more depth, knowing you are not alone. You might even gather the courage to look inside things you've tried to forget were even there.

I find this analogy a very useful way to explain to clients how the process of counselling may develop over time. I stress that it is not my roll to look at something and tell you it's in the wrong place or that a particular part of your house is clearly wrong. This is all about being there with you while you walk around your own house, making sense of why things are where they are and then supporting you if you want to move things around or even try to remove things completely. At all times you are in charge and dictating not only where we go but also the rate at which we do it.

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