Counselling, Elections and our opportunity to choose
- Counselling; A time to end and a time to begin1st March 2017
- Counselling and the art of giving back1st February 2017
- And this year I will…..1st January 2017
- Social Anxiety, Counselling and Christmas1st December 2016
- Couple Counselling – and just when is a discussion an argument1st November 2016
- Therapy, Mobiles and the Challenge of Choice1st October 2016
- Counselling, September and an Ellison’s Orange 1st September 2016
- Counselling – A room with a view1st August 2016
- Counselling: Choices and Decisions1st July 2016
- Counselling, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire and the Inevitability of Change1st June 2016
- Counselling and the art of Ambiguity. 1st May 2016
- Repetition; Normality or Folly. A Counselling Perspective1st April 2016
- Lions, Lambs and Therapy3rd March 2016
- Valentines Day, Counselling and the Great Unknown1st February 2016
- Janus Faced? The New Year, Counselling and Psychotherapy1st January 2016
- So which road do we travel this Christmas...1st December 2015
- Counselling, Guy Fawkes and Scapegoating1st November 2015
- Counselling Work and Narrative Therapy1st October 2015
- Counselling, Therapy and the end of Summer1st September 2015
- Wheat, Rye and Counselling1st August 2015
- Counselling and a break away3rd July 2015
- Counselling and the unexpected1st June 2015
- Counselling, Elections and our opportunity to choose1st May 2015
- Therapy, an April fool and the art of lost memory1st April 2015
- A Spring Clean Therapy and Counselling1st March 2015
- Couple Counselling & Valentines Day1st February 2015
- Nothing changes if nothing changes but this year can be different!1st January 2015
- Social Anxiety Disorder A Christmas Concern1st December 2014
- SAD & those dark Winter nights1st November 2014
- Existential Counselling A useful approach or pretentious jargon?1st October 2014
- Counselling, Therapy and a return to work1st September 2014
- Holidays, Counselling and your Shadow1st August 2014
- Couple Counselling and Choice1st July 2014
- Counselling, Jules Rimet and you A therapeutic perspective1st June 2014
- Counselling and Mayday A different take on a familiar story?1st May 2014
- Useful Therapy and not an April Fool1st April 2014
- Counselling, Floods and Pandoras Box1st March 2014
- Counselling and the art of being normal1st February 2014
- The New Year and a time for change?1st January 2014
- Christmas & Counselling The first Noel1st December 2013
- Counselling, Broomsticks & Halloween1st November 2013
- Couple Counselling and just what is a successful relationship?1st October 2013
- Counselling An issue of choice?1st September 2013
- Existential Counselling From Yalom to Basingstoke1st August 2013
- Counselling and the art of reframing1st July 2013
- Counselling - Change or Conformity?1st June 2013
- May Day Counselling - Celebration or Conflagration ?1st May 2013
- Summer Time & the Counselling Room1st April 2013
- Depression a useful diagnosis or an unhelpful label?1st March 2013
- An Emotional Timeline3rd February 2013
- Resolution, Revolution & Counselling1st January 2013
- Christmas, Carols & Counselling2nd December 2012
- Seasonal Affective Disorder and the SAD Season4th November 2012
- Psychotherapy & Counselling A Stoic Perspective17th October 2012
- 10th October 2012 - World Mental Health Day5th October 2012
- A First Meeting Explanation or Exploration?5th September 2012
- CBT, Mental Filtering and the Olympics19th August 2012
- I am not an angry man 14th July 2012
- Art, Counselling & Interpretation26th June 2012
- Murder Mysteries and Psychotherapy25th May 2012
- The importance of choice in therapy29th April 2012
- Reflections on Spontaneity6th April 2012
- A personal trainer for the mind 12th March 2012
Within a few days of this note appearing the General Election will be upon us. As with many people I suspect that I am becoming just a little weary of hearing those comments from the various party leaders about the importance of the choice we are about to make.
Yet I ought to be aware that this is a reaction some clients may have to those comments about choice that I often make in the counselling room.
Just as with the political process, choice is ever present in therapy work. In fact important choices in the counselling world are made before the client steps through the door. I have written elsewhere about one key aspect of choice related to therapy. That is around choosing both the right individual counsellor and also the most appropriate type of counselling strategy.
For example, some therapists work very closely with one particular model and this can sometimes result in the counsellor appearing to be quite directive in the way in which clients are encouraged to act. In particular some CBT work can reflect this didactic way of working. Some organisations and agencies are quite insistent on counsellors following a particular way of working irrespective of who the client is or what their individual concerns are.
Other therapists may want to be motivational and exalt the client to act in a more positive way and that approach can be found in some variations of Solution Focussed Strategies or motivational interviewing. Alternatively traditional psychodynamic work has been much more reflective and encouraging of clients in their efforts to fully understand what is happening and why.
I have remarked before that all these approaches can have advantages and disadvantages. What is important is what is right for each individual client. I therefore prefer to work in what can be regarded as a more integrative way (or in what some are now calling a pluralistic approach).
I do not believe that one size fits all or that one specific approach will always provide the best way forward for the client. The choice as to how to work in the therapy room is one which we as client and counsellor should make together. This approach can ensure that the therapy work is tailored to fit as close as is possible with client needs.
And if the client is unsure about how they will wish to work then we can let that choice evolve in an informed way as we move into the work.
Choice also abounds once the work is actually underway. For example the counselling room needs to be a safe place. It should therefore be very much up to each client to choose what to reveal, what to risk and what to work with in the therapy room. The counsellor can encourage, prompt or perhaps embolden the client to go a little deeper but it is fundamental to the work that the client remains in control of that choice process.
If I think back again to the impending General Election, there is now one very recent difference which can be drawn in any comparison of the political and the therapeutic choice. The advent in the last administration of the fixed term parliament act threatens to take away an element of choice certainly from the Prime Minister and perhaps also from MPs with regard to deciding on the date of the next election.
Time horizons in therapy can be very different. In the counselling room there can be fixed term work which is is common with regard to CBT work where there is a very specific focus but other therapy work is often much more open ended.
That can be beneficial when there is no clear sense of what the main underlying issue is. It will however always be important to keep therapy work under active review in order to ensure that there is a real return for the emotional, time and also financial investment which the client is putting into the counselling process.
So perhaps I am making what is no more than an obvious point. In the age of the sovereign consumer, choice is everywhere and that includes both the polling booth and the therapy room.
Yet I would suggest the choices made during counselling work and the subsequent changes we may then make in our personal and professional lives, can be even more important and have a far greater influence on our individual well-being than the ‘once in every five years’ decision that you will be making in the polling booth a few days’ time.
But then of course, I choose to say that. After all I am a therapist and not a politician!
So next week enjoy either your stroll in the spring sunshine to the polling booth or alternatively that deliberate abstention. It is very much your choice to make.
added on 1st May 2015
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