Holistic Counselling Approach, Therapy Role, Philosophy & Style
Different approaches work for different people and no one approach is right for everyone and at different times, stages, circumstances of our life, other flexible approaches may suit us better.
Curiosity My integrative counselling approach includes not only finding ways to help reduce symptoms, but also to discover with you what your life means to you, your potential and any unrealised possibilities. The counselling process will be curious about what's happening for you but also your experience, (and encourage your own curiosity), but also about how you respond to events.
Flexible Counselling Approach Counselling is not a medical treatment, panacea, or an exact science. I recognise that no single form of therapy is best or adequate in every situation. Therefore I do not hold a "one size fits all" or "tick box" approach, nor claim to know all the answers. Holding an integrative approach, different methods, interventions, work for different people. No one counselling approach holds the truth or explains the complexities of each person (see also Science Or Art?). There are numerous reasons for why we are the way we are, each of us are unique. A single theory cannot match every human being's needs and solve all problems. We don't all fit into neat boxes. There is usually no quick fix or easy formula. Different approaches help different people. What works for some may not work for others, so I work with a personalised approach in a way which best fits you (see also Therapy Style, Therapy Approach). We are unique, having our own personality, circumstances, needs, strengths, weaknesses and struggles. No one is a stereotype - we are infinitely complex, full of mystery, with many creative possibilities. My counselling experience tells me that what matters is the relationship between counsellor and client - how the two of us relate together in the counselling, less so the style of the therapy.
Affirming Counselling Approach In order to explore what's happening in our lives, people tend to prefer a relational, interpersonal approach, allowing things to emerge during the counselling process. Some people seek reassurance, support, feedback, gentle guidance to be called out, encouraged. Others who want to be authentically challenged (e.g. where is our love, will, integrity, sincerity, values?) or pushed, seeking very concrete outcomes and benefit from a more cognitive, technical style of therapy, seek some tools, and a targeted counselling program can be offered to meet those needs. My affirming approach is to be alongside you, and the issues you bring to counselling, so the choices you make, enrich rather than limit you.
Focus of Counselling The counselling focuses on you - your own internal world, what's happening inside you, rather than external circumstances, which may be difficult to change or cure. The counselling includes finding out how you've arrived at this point in your life now, what influences you, what works and is helpful and what is no longer helpful. We all have our own unique structures: the way we think, feel and behave. We experience the same situations differently. My role as a counsellor is to create the space, find out what it's like to be you and mirror back what I notice in you, checking if this resonates and fits, helping you to be clearer about any decisions you want to make as new understanding and possibilities emerge.
Therapy Style, Therapy Approach My holistic counselling approach is to identify, consider the nature of your problems, so you can move on, change, manage or accept your life as it is. Some people may prefer a listening ear or gentle guidance, allowing things to unfold, to be followed where they are at. In other situations people want a more interactive uncovering style or to be led with a more direct approach seeking different tools (believing in self-empowerment and responsibility (see also What Counselling Provides) I aim not to set up a codependent relationship with clients in that I am not the all knowing, all providing, all rescuing "expert"). My flexible counselling approach is less about trying to prove things, yet may include illustration. I may also offer ways to integrate your thoughts, feelings and reflections, exploring how you may think more deeply, freely feel more fully, imagine with more freedom. This therapy approach can enable us to have a deeper experience of who we are. (see also The Therapeutic Relationship - How You & I Relate)
Counselling Approach - Finding Out About You As a psychotherapist I hold the view that each person takes responsibility for the way they use counselling, that we know ourself best (see also Getting To Know Ourself), so the outcome of therapy is in the individual's hands. In the beginning (see also Initial Arrangements) I see the counselling like a "blank canvas" and my role is to find out about you, how you are and the way you do things - your internal landscapes, modus operandi and what drives you, gives you meaning, purpose.
Stages Of Therapy, Tasks Of Counselling & Psychotherapy Struggling to take the long way home, wanting a quick fix (see also Therapy Duration), some of us may seek an instant "light bulb" moment which may not necessarily happen in the first few sessions (see also Mode, Frequency & Duration of Therapy Sessions In London). Other people may benefit from working with very specific tasks within the counselling, having defined stages of therapy, whereas taking a longer way home, being understood, may be a preferred decision for others, as we embark on a journey with no specific destination, where meaning emerges, change occurs (see also Counselling Approach - New Perspectives). Therapy is not about rescuing or even problem solving (see also Making Time For You). After our initial meeting, an early stage of counselling may be to initially express and offload our feelings, make sense of our experiences, why our patterns have developed, including what has happened in our past, so we understand the problem. Further stages of counselling may be learning how to control our responses in order to prevent a problem re-occurring in the future. Final stages of counselling for some may be to move away from simply coping, symptom reduction, towards change, getting to know ourself more, growth, individuation, taking self-responsibility, living to our full potential, our sense of Self, and enhancing our wellbeing, including our psychological wellbeing, so we are able to resiliently interact with the world in effective and genuine ways, through our insight. (See also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Calmness - What May Help)
Therapy Approach - Creative Possibilities My counselling approach is to help you look at your creative possibilities, open up different avenues and develop specific skills, so you can choose to be more resourceful. Less about techniques, models, the therapy may therefore be about enhancing ways you may feel, experience, imagine, create, make meaning and appreciate life, love and suffering in both its negative and positive aspects.
Counselling Approach - New Perspectives Some people come to psychotherapy for "therapy treatment", "counselling treatment" and this can sometimes be appropriate for a particular, very specific issue (see also Stages Of Therapy, Tasks Of Counselling & Psychotherapy). However, we are not just a problem, or label, that can be easily fixed like a broken car. Some problems can't be resolved, where "counselling treatment", "therapy treatment" may be counter-productive if it ignores what may also lay behind our problem. However tolerating, reducing, managing, accepting, or finding our way through powerful conscious and unconscious feelings, thoughts, etc. may be a challenge. Other problems, which we may no longer need to hold on to (see also Burdens We Hold On To), may be hard to let go of, as if we are attached to them. Psychotherapy can help us to stand back and observe the problem and our selves in it (who we are and how we are), so we are not caught in the problem, but have some perspective. Being curious, looking at our experiences from different angles may help us recognise and accept the existence of other frames of reference, points of view. New choices, possibilities as we explore what it is to be fully human may emerge.
Counselling Approach - Crisis As An Opportunity My role is also to understand you in the context of your problems. We may assume that a crisis is negative, because it is uncomfortable and painful. However, it may also be a sign that needs paying attention to, an opportunity for change or transformation, to learn what we need to learn.
Don't be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against - not with - the wind.Hamilton Mabie
Integrative Counselling Approach - Holistic Counselling Integrative counselling holds that we know ourself best - we are the expert of our life and integrative therapy supports exploration, understanding of ourself and situations. The integrative therapist does not hold one, particular theory (see also Therapy Style, Therapy Approach) and acknowledges that different methods, interventions, work for different people (see also Flexible Counselling Approach). A part of us may be out of synchronisation with the rest of us, all sides of our nature - as if we are out of balance, disconnected in some way (see also In Tune With Us, Community & The Wider World, Our Interdependence, Interconnectedness). This can often point to areas we have ignored or are unaware of - even our shadow. We may want to find ways of integrating all aspects of ourself. My integrative approach includes acknowledging all aspects of us - our behaviour, body, feelings, mind, sexuality, spirituality - whatever this means for us. We may exclude specific feelings, emotions (we may for example follow our fear and not our courage) or our mind may focus on redundant beliefs. We may also compartmentalise things, hold all or nothing thinking or struggle to integrate harnessing our so called opposites/polarities e.g. power and love. The holistic counselling approach acknowledges that in some ways everything in life is connected, interdependent. Holistic counselling can be offered to look at all aspects of us. Tools and techniques can be offered and are useful, yet are often insufficient on their own. Understanding ourself is usually not enough (see also Afraid Of Finding Out More About Ourself) - we may also need to be willing to fully experience ourself, be authentic, with all facets of our personality, access, experience and articulate all our emotions, including those previously marginalised and sit with what we are experiencing, tolerate what seems intolerable, be in touch with all of who we are, feeling solid, grounded, honest and real. As we are able to bear any suffering, fresh insight (consciousness) may emerge, freeing us up. My integrative approach includes exploring how we can allow, experience, embrace and accept, integrate, synthesise all aspects of ourself, our multiple subpersonalities, the internal conflicts between the different parts of us, and all our feelings, thoughts we would rather deny, or wish they didn't exist (see also Allowing, Embracing, Integrating What We Ignore - Our Shadow, Light & Dark Side) including life's uncertainties, the unknown, mysteries and considers unconscious aspects of our personality. Through this integration we may have more of a sense of who we are, our very being, wholeness, which for some may point to a sense of not only personal consciousness but also consciousness in and beyond us. The therapy can support you in this integration, taking ownership of ourselves. And because we are complex human beings, all different, I recognise that no one model, approach, is adequate in all situations or specifically works for us. Therefore different, flexible strategies, techniques, approaches are offered and I value the therapeutic relationship as containing, co-operative space in the therapeutic work together. (See also Our Sense Of Coherence & Inner Continuity)
The whole is other than the sum of the parts.Kurt Koffka
Identifying, Disidentifying & Integrating All Aspects Of Us Disidentification is a term used by Roberto Assagioli describing how by bringing awareness, affirmation and our will to the physical, mental and emotional aspects of us, so we can observe and direct those aspects alongside our subpersonalities, so they can function in balance, harmony. We may have got caught up in or fixed our sense of Self to aspects of our life which limit us, have rigid boundaries, be overly identified or attached to our symptoms, certain areas of our personality (body, feelings, mind, sexuality, spirituality) and life, our desires, needs, thoughts, beliefs, moods, behaviours, different identities and roles and some of these may dominate at the exclusion of others and our free will (see also Freeing The Will), emerging purpose, consciousness. If we don't notice or take care of ourself (see also Navigating Between Being & Doing), ingrained aspects of us may (consciously, unconsciously) take control, yet they are not who we really are. Seeing, identifying with all these aspects of us (including ones overlooked) - one by one, being present to all these parts of us - allowing them can be onerous at first. Yet we are more than all these aspects and this "more than" is our Self. Turning gently, subtly towards these different parts of us, acknowledging our different identities, personal roles, each judgement, critical voice, pain, thought, belief, feeling, emotion (even so called negative ones), choices, unhelpful behaviour (or self-sabotage), any unwanted habits or addictions, ways we cut off, intellectualise, get anxious, abandon our self (see also Protective Patterns, Over-Defensiveness), with nothing more than a simple acknowledgement and acceptance that they exist and are there, may enable us to choose different emotions, thoughts, behaviours, etc. and accept, love, synthesise all these aspects of us, these different parts of us (including our shadow) around our Self, including and supported by all our range of positive qualities, so our love eventually takes over, transforming them, because our love has given them the space just to be as they are (see also Integrative Counselling Approach - Holistic Counselling). We (our Self) may want to notice and let go of our attachments, over-identifications, work on very specific areas in our life to disidentify from them:
- Our biology & instincts
- The triggers, hooks in our life
- Stress, fear, anxiety
- Other people's opinions (or our own)
- Our moods
- Perfectionism Counselling London
- Disappointment, expectations
- Sadness, depression
- Our wounds
- Stuck in past suffering
- Fixed roles of dependence, independence, interdependence, codependence
- A specific relating state
- Our circumstances (so we are less reactive, more proactive)
We are dominated by everything with which our self becomes identified.Roberto Assagioli
We can dominate and control everything from which we disidentify ourselves.
Therapy Approach - Our Perception I will be interested in how you see things, the theories and models you have about you and the world and reflect what I notice back to you. (See also Our Perceptions, How We See Ourself) The counselling and psychotherapy may also explore the possibilities of reframing what and how we see things, interpret things.
Counselling Approach - Focusing On What's Important I focus not so much on analysis and more on curiosity, exploration and reflection, by providing an external perspective, helping to shed light upon any obstacles, what removes us from the truth. This can help you change and manage the areas you want to change. My approach here can be to offer a mirror, reflecting back how I experience you, what I see you doing and checking if this fits, so you may be able to see more of who you are and focus upon the important areas.
Therapy Approach - What We Say & Don't Say The limits of language mean we can't fully explain the depth of our experiences. Theories, models, labelling someone and words alone don't do justice to all of who we are. Acknowledging our conscious, unconscious processes, I will pay attention to what's being said as well as what might be missed out - explicitly and implicitly, our backstory. I may also pay attention to your physical feelings and reactions as sensations in your body. (See also The Therapeutic Relationship - How You & I Relate)
Therapy Approach - Imagination & Dreams Alongside listening to what you are literally saying, I will also be interested in what happens in your daydreaming, imagination, dreams, symbols, etc. These experiences can also point to what's happening in your unconscious.
Counselling Approach - Tolerating Not Knowing In a world where we are supposed to be sure about everything and know absolutes - good/bad, black/white, right/wrong, without any contradictions, double-binds or paradox - it is hard work to find the only correct answer. The world is uncertain, unpredictable and also a mystery, and we can't know everything. Psychotherapy can help us manage any frustrations, confusions.
Therapy Approach - Thinking Clearly & Freedom To Decide My approach also includes helping us to think clearly about our life, have the freedom to come to our own conclusions (see also Our Free Will, Free Spirit), how to live our life as well as we choose to.
Counselling Approach - Making Choices Some of us may become overwhelmed by too many choices, others can believe they have no choice. The psychotherapy will include making connections to how we think, feel and respond (see also Body, Feelings, Mind Connection, Self-Regulation) and how free our will is. This may involve not allowing our emotions to have power over us, and that we can make different choices through courage, connection to our free will, spirit. The counselling may also look at any restrictive self-beliefs, alongside our prejudices (which we all have) and exploring our convergent thinking, divergent thinking. Alongside addressing any existential concerns, guidance and support is offered, so fresh ways of seeing ourself, different options, choices, perspectives and creative solutions may become available. (See also As we relinquish)
Counselling Approach - Patterns & Triggers All human beings seek and create, fall into (often unconscious) life patterns. Some of these help us and others don't. We fall into familiar roles, feelings, thinking, behaviours, responses, patterns, reactions and unless we become aware of them, change them, let go of the ones that no longer help us, they can last for years. My approach includes examining these ingrained, entrenched patterns and triggers, so they can be released and new ones introduced. (See also Healing What We Need To Heal)
Humanistic Approach - Therapist Role, Counsellor Role Although we can't change the world out there or others, we can undertake "inner work" by accessing our own innate resources that reside in us, tuning into ourself, regulating our emotions. I will also aim to discover with you what parts of you may have been overlooked or what you have "turned a blind eye to". My counselling role, the role of therapy is to support you in discovering not only your external sense of yourself - what you do and would like to do, but also your internal sense of who you are - your inner world, e.g. your subjective experience, home truths, parts of you, you've yet to know (see also Role Of The Unconscious - "The Yet To Be Revealed") hidden dreams, who you are and what you may become, your own meaning and purpose, so your autonomy is in your hands.
Humanistic Approach - Valuing Our Experience, Being In Touch With Ourselves The role of the counsellor may also be to help you to get in touch with your intuitive sense of rightness, simply what you intuit is right at your core, beyond fear and what you are willing to risk. I am therefore interested in your own experience (getting inside your experience of you - situations from the situation - rather than about the situation) and principles, less so your rationalisations or my random theories.
Our Ground Sometimes we can lose our ground, or feel on shaky ground (how and where we stand in the world - having our own personal boundaries) and the therapy can help us with re-establishing our firm ground, so we are more centred, anchored in who we are, in our body, in this world.
Therapy Approach - Working With You, Viewing Issues Also As Symptoms With A Backstory & Story Going Forward Some of us may feel awkward, be confused, worried, disturbed, scared or fearful, unhappy about something. Our personal suffering and love can seem so far apart, yet also connected. Alongside working with the issue we bring, the role of therapy also includes acknowledging that our symptoms (and often crisis) carry aspects of our essence, emerging purpose, paying attention to what else this might be saying, meaning for us, how this affects us and how we might find our way through. Underlying symptoms can also be viewed as unconscious signposts, carrying multiple meanings pointing towards our essence, future potential as they transform (see also Life's Predicaments, Priorities, Paradoxes, Contradictions, Conflicts, Contrasts, Dilemmas, Ambivalence). Therefore, in the psychotherapy process, as we focus on our personal issues, it can be experienced like listening to something inside of us that wants to communicate with us (e.g. our big talk and what really matters), and it can take sometime for this "something" to be discovered and revealed. For example, the problems we experience now, however painful, may also be our challenges, cues, pointing to our unfulfilled needs, the possibility of change in our life. These problems may also carry deeper messages (how they affect us as a whole) calling us to respond to our underlying symptoms and source of our issues. The therapy will therefore not only focus on the content or problem - what we bring, but also the process - our emotional experience, how we got to this point in our life, where we want to be and what stops us. "What might I need to learn here?" may also be a helpful question to reflect upon. From these deeper messages new meanings may emerge, which can also point us towards our purpose, growth. Some of us may also be in touch with existential concerns. The journey of therapy therefore includes working with our issues also as symptoms and what might be transforming. My bi-focal perspective therefore includes viewing through a lens of not only acknowledging the possible causes in our history and social circumstances (for details see Impact Of Our Past), but also wonders what else might be unfolding for us - towards realising our Self, as consciousness, our life and emerging purpose evolves as does our "story" moving forward.
Psychotherapy Approach - Our Potential I see the therapy process as a success when not only what we are going through is resolved or accepted, as if part of our outer journey, but when we are able to shape our destiny and utilise our full potential - exploring our inner journey in relationship with others and the wider world, expanding our awareness, choices, enjoyment and satisfaction.
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