Transformation In Counseling
As a counselor, if you aren’t conscious of the unconscious pull your clients feel to use you as a garbage receptacle for unwanted, uncomfortable, dangerous thoughts and feelings you’re going to run into problems because you and your clients will live two different realities during counseling exchanges.
You’re trained to appreciate the communication of private information, to believe something healthy and good is happening when the uncomfortable information comes to light. And it is healthy and good up to a point, especially when it’s the first time these things have ever been said out loud. But what happens in many counseling situations is that clients settle in to a routine where they aren’t actually interested in changing patterns of thought, feelings, and behaviors. What they’re interested in is using you and the counseling hour as a sort of psychic cleansing, compelling you to uncomplainingly take on the negativity and destructiveness that make up their histories and current psychic landscapes.
So you become just one more spoke in a psychic wheel that is itself the seat of life problems. While it seems on the surface like you’re doing a really good job when you take on all the pain and suffering of your clients week after week, you’ve got to take it a step further and encourage your clients to own and use the painful things they’re talking about as the impetus for positive change rather than leaving these things at your doorstep. They’ve got to decide, with your help, what aspects of their life situations need to change now in order to transform the suffering, the destructiveness, the dysfunction, into compassion, growth and self-actualization.
The inner mechanism that causes the counseling relationship to create positive change is of course that clients feel heard and understood, maybe for the first time in their lives. But the circle is not completed until clients use the insight gleaned from the counseling space to take active steps to change how they think, feel, and act in the world.