Today, in the quads,it was my turn to be the observor of the client and to draw an image of the feelings that resonated within me as the client was speaking.
There were a couple of things that stood out in a big way for me in this exercise:
For the first few minutes while the client was talking I was listening and letting what I could pick up of their words – the feelings and content of what they were expressing – give rise to images and visual interpretations. I kept on coming up with the image of a “whirlpool” and this became the main motiff of what I was drawing. What struck me was that at a later stage in the process the client started to use the idea of a “whirlwind” to describe some of the way they were feeling. It was surprising that the verbal and visual imagery ended up synchronising so well…
When getting the materials together for the session I grabbed a box of oil pastels and noticed that there was no black. I considered hunting around to find a black but quickly gave up the idea since black isn’t really a colour I’m into at the moment. What suprised me was that, in the end, despite my thinking that I wouldn’t want to use any black since it’s not one of “my colours” at the moment, I actually NEEDED to use the black in order to keep the drawing “honest” to the empathy and resonance I was experiencing in response to the client’s issues. (I ended up grabbing a black white-board marker at the conclusion of the session) To not use black would not have honoured the client or given recognition to those aspects of their feelings and issues that I was resonating with.
Here’s 10 points – thoughts, quotes and observations – that I’ve brought home on day 4 of the course:
Be aware of incongruence that may occur – incongruence between the “story” being told and the facial expressions; the narrative versus the state or mood of the “storyteller”
Dealing with the here-and-now: You may need to ask something like – “At the moment, where in your body are you feeling that?”
Dealing with the here-and-now: “What are you aware of right now, now that you’ve talked about things?”
Dealing with the here-and-now: Take time to summarise the history of issues that have been presented and ask about how they relate to what the client is felling now.
Verbal language is part of the whole inter-relationship within the counselling environment. It can’t be ignored or overlooked, BUT it must be considered hand in hand with the non-verbal cues and behaviours – those forms of communication which are always there but but not always taken into conscious consideration.
The journey of the counsellor in the development and implementation of their skills is modelled, informed and influenced by interactions with their peers, their educators, their clients, the literature they are reading, as well as the everyday experiences they are immersed in. Sometimes this is taken on in a conscious implementing of new understandings and sometimes it will emerge in their practise, not becoming “visible” to them unless some event, interaction or person points it out and makes it evident. It will also naturally find its way into the daily, personal interactions of the counsellor, the person…
The counsellor does not have all the answers.
The counsellor needs to know when it is time to look after and be available for themselves.
Sometimes the counsellor will have difficulty in “being there”
In the counselling process there will always be potentials and possibilities – alternative directions – that could be taken. Other pathways of conversation will present themselves BUT there is also a flow – a dynamic – betweent the client and the counsellor that needs to be honoured in order to take the journey along the client’s “best current path”.
Guest post courtesy of Colin Read, http://theponsinstitute.com