A Counsellors Perspective

I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. Yeats

These two lines speak to me of the relationship between client and counsellor. How vulnerable a person can feel when talking openly about them self, and how essential it is to respond with respect and sensitivity.

Dreams have a delicacy about them, they are real in our hearts and yet they have not happened yet. Our dreams for the future are not always fully formed in our mind and they might change. It is important that I do not try to shape yours by imposing my own agenda and ideas about what is best for you. Equally I do not want to tamper with your memories or their significance for you.

Treading softly requires my full attention and presence while we sit together. It is my intention to provide an open space, by this I mean an opportunity to move at your own pace and in your own direction. For example instead of encouraging you to explore your childhood or to concentrate upon one topic at a time I prefer to go with your flow.

Interrupting you and trying to take you off in a different direction is too tricky. If I urge you to go down a particular path, then I risk sending you off course or to areas that you are not yet ready to navigate. You are in the unique position of knowing what is going on from the inside, so I’ll take your lead. Perhaps you see an obvious route or you might only know your next step as you are taking it.

I hope that you will feel supported. It seems to me that support can include various qualities –acceptance of you just as you are, nurturing, holding, comfort, containment, encouragement and validation. There are times when support is what we need in order to move forward in our lives and in our deeper explorations of self.

At the same time, too much support can stifle development. It can become crushing rather than liberating. When I pay attention, by listening both to you and to my own intuition, I find that I have a better chance of providing support that includes space for growth.

Sometimes people tell me that their concerns are small compared with the suffering of others. My own opinion is that suffering is not a matter of comparison. It is what it is for each of us. At the same time I understand that for some people, looking at themselves and their situation in a wider context can put things into perspective and that this can be useful.

 You are the person who has come to see me and I am interested in whatever it is that brings you to therapy. This might include particular issues, your distress, a wish to explore and gain insights, a sense of something quite vague that needs your attention, decisions, hopes, dreams, and more...

Therapy is not always an easy option, looking at ourselves and our lives can take some courage. It seems to me that if I can understand how things are from your point of view, then I will have a better idea of what hurts and what matters to you. This will help me to be present with you and to tread softly.

Being sensitive towards you and your concerns is important if I am to become a person who you can trust. Considering trustworthiness further, I would say that it is to do with genuineness. For me this is about being as honest as I can in every aspect of our relationship, from explaining and keeping confidentiality to being genuinely myself, a person who you can get to know and with whom you can feel a connection. This for me is in contrast to putting up a professional barrier.

Having an awareness of my feelings and emotions allows me to be authentic and sincere in my relationship with you. When I am in touch with the sadness that you are feeling I hope to communicate my empathy, so that you know I am with you.

I am concerned with recognizing anything that gets in the way while I am counselling you. This might be a situation in my own life, or maybe a desire to point you in the ‘right’ direction which would do more harm than good. Whilst I can identify certain areas that need my attention there are others that I am unaware of.

I find that Focusing helps me to notice subtle experiencing that can be easily missed. A slight fluttering in my stomach can hold a wealth of information. When I pause and begin describing the feeling it becomes more solid. There is space for different facets of my experiencing to emerge – memories…emotions…understandings… unspoken feelings…something happening between us when you spread your dreams under my feet…more…

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven by William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. 

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