UK Council for Psychotherapy

UKCP

Accredited Psychotherapist

British Association for
Counselling & Psychotherapy

BACP

Accredited Counsellor

Counselling & Psychotherapy
Central London, Camden, Kings Cross, London NW1
Glen Gibson - Dip. Counselling, MA Psychotherapy, Dip. Psychotherapy
UKCP & mBACP Accredited male Therapist, Counsellor & Psychotherapist

therapy@counselling-london.org.uk 020 7916 1342

Process Of Counselling & Psychotherapy - Role Of The Unconscious

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2D QR Code Counselling London Psychotherapy

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Role Of The Unconscious - "The Yet To Be Revealed"

Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you went in there? What if life was like that? Jim Euclid

Being Conscious & Unconscious The unconscious aspects of us are more than our blind spots and includes the things we keep at the back of our mind and beyond that we are not in touch with. We can't know what we don't know and throughout life we shift states between being connected with ourself - conscious, and then not connected - unconscious. Things inside of us can be outside of our access, as if happening under our radar. Our unconscious points us towards things (see also Living To Our Full Potential). Counselling and psychotherapy can help to make sense of what might be unconscious in us (including our back-story), so we make connections. Some people experience their consciousness like flipping a switch - from feeling cut off to being connected - alive, others experience a more gradual process of being less on "auto-pilot" or in a dream-like state. It is as if we are aware of being ourseIf - who we are, catching ourself what we are doing and experiencing ourself in some moments, yet other times not, as if we are not fully awake. We tend to be more conscious of ourself when we make time to reflect and in times of change, at a turning point, or when we need to make important choices. Through a crisis or when we, or a loved one, are seriously ill, or someone has died, this can be experienced as a wake-up call to consciousness - where we can sense our own existence (see also Reflective, Existential Concerns), separateness, preciousness of life and consciousness (as if looking on at ourself). Also, when we are left behind, singled out or feeI in a minority, this too can trigger our sense of consciousness. Accompanying ourselves - noticing what we are noticing, we may want to explore comfortable ways to consciously live throughout our life's journey.

You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew. Albert Einstein

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Stream Of Consciousness When we wake up in the morning on the edge of consciousness (between the unconscious and conscious), it is as if our mind ignites as layers of consciousness gradually unfold and we begin to internally talk to ourselves. For some, as we awaken, so too may our anxiety. We may have recognised last night's dream, or quickly turn to reflecting on yesterday's events or today's plans (see also Present, Past & Future). We experience certain likes and dislikes, moods, emotions and thoughts, etc. This process happens throughout the day, some experiences and meanings we are in touch with and others not. This can affect our sense of time and space. We all have fluctuating levels of unfolding consciousness, no matter what our intelligence, and sometimes it can seem as if we are witnessing this. (See Bridge Between The Unconscious (Unknown) & Conscious (Known))

Consciousness Follows Experience Some of us may not quite know how we got here... Through our actions we have an experience, which creates more consciousness. These experiences offer us an opportunity to reflect and potential for learning. This inner-reflection can highlight aspects of us that now need paying attention to, which we have previously ignored (unconscious). The therapy works with our unfolding consciousness and how this feeds our understanding.

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Unconscious Reactions Often when we are in fast reaction ("I found myself..."), we may not be conscious of our intentions, rationalities, or struggle to think straight, as if on autopilot (see Source Of Our Motivation). As we slow things down and reflect it may become clearer to us that there was a part of us inside, which was unintentionally in reaction, maybe previously unconscious. Our unconscious pulls, reactions or action may also have an impulsive or compulsive element. Counselling and psychotherapy can help us with our awareness, observations and reflections about our emotions, thoughts, behaviour patterns (including any ways we sabotage things) actions and body (physical sensations), so we take back control, choose how we think, feel, respond, taking responsibility for our effect. (See also Mindfulness & Meditation)

Self-Reflective Much of our inner world is unconscious. Most of us can recall moments of being on the outside - looking in, saying something like "I found myself thinking ........." or "I was watching it happen". We all have reflective moments - maybe through long distance travel or even in the bath, or on the park bench - listening and connecting to ourself (see also Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold), whereas other times we are out of touch with ourseIf. This observing part of ourselves, who watches over us - as we catch ourself, can be experienced as being more conscious than the part of us that is unable to reflect, or realise what we are in touch with. The therapy can help enable us to become more in touch, conscious of ourself, those around us and the wider world.

We think more than we think we think.

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Early Unconscious Agreements, Beliefs When younger many of us made unconscious agreements and beliefs with ourselves, formed an internal working model about how we saw ourselves, who we believed we are, how our life should be, how others should treat us, our values. We may have made vows, promises to ourselves, when we get older - some of them unconscious. This may affect our reasoning and the weight we put on to things. The counselling and psychotherapy can be a place to explore now the impact and validity of these early unconscious self-beliefs, loyalties, oaths, sacred cows.

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Evolving Consciousness - Benefit Of Hindsight The benefit of hindsight can help us, yet hindsight can also be a curse if we blame ourself, lack forgiveness, hold on to regrets (see also Remembering - Old Emotions, Current Emotions). Our consciousness evolves, for example, looking back on our childhood we later become aware of how we often unwittingly, unconsciously reacted. Back then we weren't as wise as we are now (see also Bridge Between The Unconscious (Unknown) & Conscious (Known)). As our consciousness evolves, this may also mean learning to take care of our wounded self. When we were younger, the child in us was not conscious (for we could only know what was in front of us at the time), and although we are more conscious now, the child inside us may remain largely unconscious (see also Our First Relationship - Early Connections & Bonding Patterns). What was undiscovered becomes uncovered through our conscious and unconscious curiosity and sometimes through dreams. At times we live as adults through our unconscious child, who can't fully remember their past, yet repeats it in adulthood (often experiences, which we were unable to integrate and didn't seem to make sense back then). Like evolving wisdom this process of knowing (consciousness) and not knowing (the unconscious), does not stop when we reach adulthood. We have all slipped into ways of behaving. It's only after the benefit of hindsight and reflection that we realise that we could have chosen a different path. We can be wiser after the event looking back at situations, experiences, reactions, seeing them differently now. This new wisdom, learning may be about our evolving consciousness. For example parents only learn how to be parents, by being parents, and they are much wiser (conscious) after the event (see also The Impact Of Our Past Affecting Our Relationships Now).

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. Oscar Wilde

Evolving Consciousness - The Meanings We Make When we are conscious, we are always conscious of something, including our relationship with the world and others, our shared humanity - our shared similarities, differences, all of which may be evolving, as is connecting to the strengths of our relationships with others in us as we try to make sense of and organise things. As we become more conscious of how we have been seeing the world and ourseIf, this consciousness evolves and entails a level of suffering. It is as if the lenses, through which we experience and see things, opens up. Some people report evolving consciousness as knowing a little more about ourself today than we did yesterday, as our continuous interactions with everything that happens around us creates continuous learning, multiple meanings. Some of these meanings we create consciously, and others unconsciously, yet both influence our actions. As we become more conscious, we may question consciousness in and beyond us, what's important to us and our priorities may change. For some we may link consciousness with noticing our energy, nature, spirituality. The psychotherapy considers how we think and feel, what matters to us, the conscious (known) and unconscious (unknown) parts of ourself. (See also How We Want To Evolve As A Person)

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What We Ignore In Us We all tend to overlook or ignore our different roles, identities - maybe our sense of our body, certain feelings or emotions, some of our thoughts and creative imagination, our bits of "madness", our shadow. The integrative therapy may take into consideration how in touch and energised we are in our physical feelings, how we notice and utilise our mind, how we experience and express our range of feeIings, as well as aspects of our sexuality and sense of the spiritual - whatever this means to us.

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The Realm of the Unconscious We can experience expectations, thoughts, beliefs, behaviours, primary and secondary feelings, without being consciously aware of them, and unconsciously project them onto others. The way we see the world - our perceptions, choices, habits and addictions, are limited to our consciousness, as it flows in and out. Most of what we do is not controlled by our conscious mind. The depths of the unconscious stir inside of us. We all send and receive unconscious messages to ourself, most of which we are not fully aware of. Sometimes we can experience thoughts or a spark of inspiration, as if they have come from nowhere, out of the left field. We can sometimes sabotage things, yet not fully know why we do this, which may come from our unconscious. We therefore unconsciously give out messages and stimulus to others (as they do to us), which influences our thinking, and in turn affects our beliefs, feeIings and actions. Advertisers, with their subliminal messages, know this unconscious programming (and coded forms), evocative words, images, inferences well. Certain people and events from our past, whether traumatic or otherwise (e.g. a certain look, mannerism, tone, voice, even a so called "throw away" remark), can shape our responses and unconscious hooks, triggers, buttons (including in our relationships), which become pathways, condensing our history in the present. We may for example become over-stimulated or fearful more than we need to be by an event now because it reminds us of a painful or traumatic event in the past. So acting in a fear-driven way, may entirely be appropriate as a survival strategy, because we have yet to find different ways of responding. As we become more self aware, present, we can consciously change our previously unrecognised responses, allowing for spontaneity, surprises, responding less automatically, in pre-programmed ways. We can be more alive, open, "in the moment", relinquishing what we've known (See also Releasing Ourselves & Letting Go). Some people report this experience of becoming more conscious as a gradual awakening, a sense of their own "presence", "presence" of others and the wider world.

To be awake is to be alive. Henry David Thoreau
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Listening To The Evolving Unconscious We may have reached a stage in our life, where problems, underlying symptoms we have ignored now need attention. (Sometimes it is as if we get reminders in life and need to work out what it is we need to learn.) Our unconscious can be viewed as an ally, pointing towards what we might need to pay attention, which may also support our insights. Often deep down, we know the real underlying concerns we need to address (maybe taking the longer way home for a change), yet sometimes we are not aware, as if they are buried somehow in our unconscious, until they unravel and reveal themselves over time, or during the process of therapy. Some of the issues in our life may be familiar to us and have lifelong patterns (often going back generations through family stories, setups), as if their messages carry echoes from our past, reverberating into our future, carrying a story (see also Free Will & Relationship To Fatalism, Preordainment, Determinism, Indeterminism & Randomness, Karma, Nature & Nurture - Dilemmas, Challenges). Acknowledging the pulls from our past and pushes pointing towards our future, the forces of the unconscious will be expressed in the therapy and the counselling and psychotherapy is a space to listen to and wonder what also might be communicated underneath our surface concerns, what else may be emerging for us and this can be discovered together in the therapy process.

Life speaks to us in each moment and as we listen, take note we can act on this.

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Conscious & Unconscious Attitudes, Intentions, Expectations We all have conscious intentions, attitudes and unconscious attitudes, intentions - doing things yet being unsure why, which we also bring along to the therapy. (For example we may not be fully in touch with certain feelings or motivations, e.g. envy or jealousy, so we become rivalrous with someone without knowing why. Unconscious shame may play a role for some. Stemming from our past, we may always try to fix things or please others.) In relationships we have certain expectations, or may project these onto our partner alongside our thoughts, feelings, desires, intentions, etc. And we may sometimes communicate these unconsciously.

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Source Of Our Motivation Some of us may procrastinate, struggling to mobilise our resources, which may be linked to our unconscious will. As we have experiences and the world impacts upon us - we may unconsciously respond back, reacting (sometimes it is as if we are acting from a script - a play not of our own making), and our will is unconscious. Our unconscious influences our motivation. Many choices, decisions we make are often not conscious ones (unconscious will) so we evolve unconsciously. We may for example have a sense of missing out on things. What we end up doing is affected by our conscious and unconscious influences (e.g. our unconscious will to remain the same, maybe stronger than our conscious desire to change). Our unconscious choices, intentions, drives, desires, hopes, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, behaviours, reactions, "saboteur", past, etc affect our actions. These influences, and unconscious pulls, may have a different agenda (to what we consciously want) with unintentional consequences, affecting whether we change. Therefore our conscious wishes may have one face value, yet mask our unconscious desires. As we act, not caught in reaction, our will is more conscious, as we become aware of what drives us. In order to bring about change - if that is our desire, counselling and psychotherapy also attempts to understand what lies behind our current difficulties, paying attention to our personal will or resolve (source of motivation) - in both its conscious and unconscious form. When these unconscious motivational forces (our will) are evoked and are at work, we react, re-enact in unaware ways, almost blindly and the therapy can explore this. Some people describe the will as the opposite to inertia. (See also Motivation & Will Power)

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Impact Of The Unconscious The unconscious has no sense of time, it is more of a space. In this space it can be as if previous experiences and related feelings can be experienced and brought into the present time. Our dreams and imagination may also have a different realm of time, pointing to what might be emerging, transforming for us, including a consciousness of our relationship to our present, past, future. Losing our sense of time, because we are so engrossed or engaged in an activity, waking up in the morning and drifting off to sleep at night are experiences of movements of consciousness, concepts of time. Most of us have moments of reflection - being in touch with what's important or may be emerging in our life. We may for example be travelling, watching clouds float by, looking out to sea, as of we are noticing or searching for something larger than us, which for some allows us to be more in touch with the unconscious (see also Consciousness In & Beyond Us). Our literal, concrete world can be temporarily suspended for our imaginative world, until we turn back to the land again. How we integrate and respond to all our experiences may lead us to further enquiry, and for some - spiritual enquiry. Our unconscious influences us when we are both asleep (e.g. dreaming) and awake (e.g. our imagination, daydreaming). Our daydreams can be a rich resource for us, yet we may also want to let go of our daydreams in order to be grounded and connect to our source of motivation, utilise our creative imagination. Some aspects or parts of ourseIf go unnoticed, and take time to percolate into our consciousness. Psychotherapy can provide a space to shed light on your unconscious thoughts, processes, subliminal messages, which influence your actions.

What is now proved was once only imagined. William Blake

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Unconscious From The Past & Pointing Towards Our Future We may often experience or carry implicit emotional memories stored in our body from our past and the therapy can consider the impact of these alongside also what may be unconsciously unfolding for us, pointing towards our life meaning, purpose and potential.

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Interpreting Dreams - Meaning Of Dreams Our dreams, images can be so real at times and when we wake up, less so. Dreams can be a path for the unconscious to come into more form by being revealed into our conscious mind for the purpose of becoming aware of something, possible transformation or healing (see also Evolving Consciousness - Benefit Of Hindsight). Like a repetition compulsion, some of us may have reoccurring dreams, others - nightmares. Sometimes we can have lucid dreams, meaning we are actively aware that we are dreaming, that the experience is not happening in physical reality. Lucid dreaming and interpretation of dreams can also help us make sense and wonder about possible solutions in our real world. Often during the first few hours of dreaming, our dreams may be short, mundane and may be reactivating memories from the previous day as if to be consolidated and of little consequence. Other dreams may be more important tending to be during REM sleep (these are remembered more because we are more awake) and become more like random stories with complex contexts where old memories play a part. Counselling and psychotherapy works with our imagination and dreams and offers dream interpretation by discovering what dreams represent, symbolise and metaphorically mean for us and because each dream is personal to the dreamer, it is what this dream might be telling us that is teased out in the dream interpretation therapy. This may sometimes include recounting our dreams, so dream meaning and new understanding may emerge. We may look at dreams not so much in a concrete way, but more what our dreams and symbols may personally mean for us. Witnessing our dreams, and witnessing ourself in our dreams, can help us make meaning of our dreams. Some of us may experience recurring dreams, anxiety dreams, bad dreams, nightmares. How to stop bad dreams, stop nightmares may be important to us.

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Fresh Insights The psychotherapy explores our awareness (of the source of our motivations) alongside what determines our conscious, unconscious choices and decisions. Catching what we are previously unconscious to, being in touch with what may be transforming may be important. Who inside of us (what part of us), and what exactly is driving us, can be an important enquiry for some, as may allowing ourselves to daydream and utilise our insights towards our creativity. Sometimes we are conscious, other times not so. Often we kind of know things, yet have not integrated some of them, which can give us new perspectives. Fresh insights (consciousness) and challenges may emerge in how we take responsibility and authorship, put our attention where we want to, so we participate in the life we consciously choose. We may also want to be mindful of the energy of every thought, word, action, and of the effects of these on consciousness. The interactions in the therapy can also be a useful mirror in this process.

Self-Consciousness Some of us may view self consciousness as a bad thing, judging this or feeling embarrassed, awkward, feeling uncomfortable with our self-consciousness or becoming fearful. The therapy can support us loosening up when we need to, valuing our self-consciousness, distinguishing us from others, exploring what it also means to be a social being.

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Bridge Between The Unconscious (Unknown) & Conscious (Known) When we reflect, observe, we may become more self-aware as our experience of consciousness (and sometimes timelessness) unfolds into our field of awareness, pointing also towards our potential (see also Evolving Consciousness - Benefit Of Hindsight). Our conscious seIf can't know about our unconscious seIf (nor can our unconscious know our unconscious), so the role of counselling and psychotherapy is not only to listen to what you are saying literally, but also to see how you also communicate through your body, imagination, dreams, daydreaming, fantasies, symbols, words, metaphors, etc., as a means of finding out more about you, your unconscious thoughts, feelings, desires, etc. and what else might be emerging. (See also Source Of Our Motivation)

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Collective Unconscious We are unconsciously affected by others and the world around us. Some people call this a social unconscious. It is argued that through our ancestral past we all have shared experiences, that images and archetypes link these. The counselling and psychotherapy can reflect upon these effects with you.

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Consciousness In & Beyond Us Being engaged with consciousness itself, sometimes we have moments of sensing that everything comes together as one, that nothing is separate. This may also happen through peak experiences. Evolving consciousness, expanding consciousness, presence can be experienced as something "other" coming in, a wind of change. And some people may want to be in touch with their personal consciousness (the physical, mental and emotional), alongside consciousness beyond themselves (what some people call higher consciousness, global consciousness or the spiritual realm of consciousness) - what's foreground and what's background. And we may be wondering or challenged by what all this means. Being in our own ground may be important, in touch with our own conscience, integrity, free to live to our full potential. (See also Internal Interconnectedness - Connecting Consciousness To Our Past, Present, Future, Sensing Our Aliveness, Space Beyond Us)

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. Albert Einstein

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