“I want to get out of this room, I feel uncomfortable.” Mr. A (name changed for client confidentiality) said to me three times during our second counselling session. Yet, he stayed, not just for the current session but subsequent sessions as well.
Mr. A’s anxiety and hesitation are understandable as counselling (used interchangeably as psychotherapy or therapy, though there are some differences among them) do sound scary to the uninitiated.
Why is this so? According to Professor Chong Siow Ann, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health, it is a process where “during our consultations, patients disclose their innermost concerns, their disconcerting fantasies and fears, their unfulfilled loves and abject failures – things they have not shared, or ever will, with another.”
Counselling: A Road to Discovery and Recovery
While counselling can be described as mind surgery, it is not as traumatic as it sounds. On the contrary, it is a journey of guided self-healing.
To me, under an established therapeutic alliance, counselling is a process where a therapist facilitates a client in a safe and confidential environment, uncovering the true causes of the client’s real or perceived sufferings, along with his triggers. Here, the client learns to make his own resources, options and choices on how to reduce the harm, resolve or eliminate his issues, or even accept the challenges with a new interpretation.
The client is also guided on how to take responsibility for the consequences of his informed decisions. This is an important step as the client learns to re-calibrate himself and more importantly, prepare himself to address similar challenging issues that he may face in the future.
The End Result
My ultimate goal for my clients is always for them to be their own counsellors for the similar struggles and obstacles they may have when formal counselling service is over.
Take Mr. A for example, today, he is doing very well. After his counselling sessions, he has gained vital insights about himself and his stressors and troubles. As such, he has been able to take right actions to manage his issues more effectively.
I truly believe that we can fulfil this demanding yet possible goal. How? Simply by allowing ourselves to have an opportunity to unlearn, learn and relearn those unwholesome conditions.
We believe what we believe, as we are conditioned in certain ways, since the day when we were born, growing up in a particular family, community, society and country, having certain cultures, practices and norms shaped and moulded us.
During this process of “unconditioning”, we learn how to evolve from Dependence, Co-dependence, Independence to Interdependence, in the conditions or situations of unwholesomeness to wholesomeness.
This is why, I salute and admire my clients’ courage and determination in taking the first step to discovery and recovery, when they show up in the therapy room, sharing their vulnerability and struggles unreservedly with me.
It is not easy, but it is doable. Would you like to give yourself an opportunity to sow such a seed first?
For everyone, well-being is a journey.
The secret is committing to that journey
and taking those first steps
with hope and belief in yourself.
This article is written based on Krish Phua's greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore "Inside Mind Insights" for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.