Counselling, Therapy and the end of Summer
- 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
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date
If that phrase sounds familiar then it is the chap from Stratford. The Stratford in Avon rather than the East London one. The line comes from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 which is where the Darling Buds of May first appear. It is wonderful prose and rewards a read. The words are beguiling and thought provoking.
Those thoughts and perhaps also the accompanying emotions suggest that this can be an unsettling time of year. Summer’s lease has all but run out. Even whilst there are still some final glorious days of light and warmth to embrace, autumn winds are threatening to blow chilly and cold.
The changing seasons are of course an ever present backdrop to our lives. Writers often use the progress of the year as a metaphor for life. We are used to reading that the New Year is in its infancy, our youth is our springtime, the autumn days of life and a myriad of other references. Perhaps we can even stretch a point whilst referencing the Bard, (plus also Steinbeck) and consider that winter of our discontent.
And as summer wanders into autumn and the leaves start to drift downwards where does that leave us. Mourning the loss of warmth or celebrating what may have been a great holiday period? Looking forward to that autumnal mellow fruitfulness or dreading the onset of the darker nights.
It has to be your call. You can choose what to focus on. It is up to you whether to pursue thoughts of melancholy or sit with an afterglow; and whether to anticipate with delight or to dread with foreboding.
One of the issues I often return to in the counselling room is on how we exercise this thing called choice. Just how do we decide to work through those variants of cognitive and emotional choice in front of us?
Perhaps the most important starting point is to recognise that we do actually have a choice.
Discussions in therapy can help clients to understand how things are and to consider how we may want things to be. We think about what has occurred and anticipate what is to come. This can also include considering how we want to feel about important issues such as our relationships and key life events in our personal story, both past and present.
If this sounds rather cognitive and closely aligned to all that is CBT or solution focussed work then perhaps we should stretch our thinking a little. One of the advantages of the so called deeper therapies such as psychodynamic work, is that through working with these approaches we can attain a fuller understanding of the influences in life that have impacted upon us.
That enhanced self-awareness can in turn help us to exercise greater control over how to think about what has happened and what is currently going on in our lives.
If I continue with the poetical references in this piece, we can be not only ‘masters of our fate’ but also the arbiter of our memory. Whether the event was last month, last summer or last year, it remains very much up to each of us to decide what memories to frame in our mind – and how that image should look.
This is not to suggest that we should opt to repress unpleasant memories or deny what has occurred. What has happened to us will have impacted on who we are. We should not however allow our history to dictate who we will be.
I sometimes use a phrase about turning ghosts into ancestors. The suggestion is that ghosts can frighten us but ancestors are just there. We all have ancestors whether good, bad or indifferent. It is up to us to decide how we wish to view those ancestors. We certainly cannot influence who our ancestors were or what they did but we can decide how much influence we will allow them to have on our sense of self right now.
And what of the more recent people in our past or even in the present Again we can think back to those who have loved us or instead choose to focus on those who belittled us. We can recall the warmth of a smile or the coldness of a scowl.
An informed memory provides the freedom to choose if we wish to; and as this is a blog on a therapy website perhaps that is where I should bring counselling into the discussion.
It is realistic to accept that sometimes this attempt to control our thoughts and our emotions can prove difficult. Occasionally some extra support is needed just to help us to get past a block, look again and to reconfigure the picture that had formed in our mind some time ago. There may be a problem with that original picture. It may be that time has distorted our memory, that this image may now be out of focus or we perhaps have filtered out aspects of the story that really ought to be told.
A counsellor can help provide that alternative perspective. If we stay with images the therapist can hold up a virtual mirror which may enable the client to look at things differently. There may be another perspective, another picture which the client can suddenly recognise which helps to turn that threatening ghost into a harmless and inert ancestor.
At the very least the counsellor can encourage the client to start to exercise that choice. And that can also be forward looking. We can start to consider just how we want to be with regard to what lies ahead.
And looking ahead today, takes me back once more to the change of seasons. I am writing this in late summer just as the shadows begin that process of lengthening. The year draws on for both you and I but time is still there for us to work with, whether to enjoy or despair.
We can decide what to anticipate, either the festivities or the rain, the seemingly endless dark nights or the warmth of a fireplace. The choice is ours – and very much yours.
And for a conclusion to this note I will end as Sonnet 18 does. I am not sure how well it relates to this subject matter of choice but I like it – and you can choose how to interpret it!
So long as men can breathe and eyes can see
So long live life and life gives this to thee
added on 1st September 2015
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