What is special about counselling?
There is something quite unique about the counselling relationship, something that doesn’t generally occur in normal social conversations, like for example when talking to a friend or a relative.
In everyday interactions people usually expect an exchange: I talk you listen – you talk I listen. We presume a more or less fine balance in which we play two different roles intermittently: the one of the talker and the one of the listener.
This is just fine and normal, as we are social beings and that is what the art of good conversation is all about! In fact, when someone does not give us the opportunity for exchange the experience may become irritating. But sometimes while we are engaging in listening to someone we may not be able to reflect about the things that we have said. We miss the opportunity to hear ourselves. That means that only half of that conversation has been used to be in touch with the things that bother us.
Also it is only normal that in ordinary social interactions the people who care for us may be affected by our problems and want to tell us their opinions or give some well meaning advice.
Social life does not generally afford the opportunity for people to talk about themselves at length.
A therapeutic relationship provides you with a confidential and safe space to talk about things that you may find difficult to share with others for whatever reason.
In counselling a trained listener can devote all their time and attention to hear what you have to say, without judgments, expectations or pressure. Just the way that suits you. Many of the things that you may discover about yourself through a counselling session may be things that you already knew but which you had never clearly expressed.
This act of verbalisation can be transformative because expressing thoughts, ideas and feelings can give greater insight about what is holding you back and help you grow.