From client to counsellor......

"When the other person is hurting, confused, troubled, anxious, alienated, terrified; or when he or she is doubtful of self-worth, uncertain as to identity, then understanding is called for. The gentle and sensitive companionship of an empathic stance… provides illumination and healing. In such situations deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another." ~ Carl Rogers

One of the responsibilities of a professional, ethical counsellor is to reflect on their work and the impact it has on themselves as an individual. I recently had a client come to the end of their counselling journey who thanked me for my help and stated that because of the help they had gained from counselling they had started researching counselling courses. They said that in our later sessions they had started to feel that they could offer help to others as they themselves had received from our time together. I encouraged them and directed them to various reading/information sites.

After the client had left I reflected on my journey. At the age of 21 I was struggling with many personal issues as a student. A friend recommend I contact the local womens therapy centre, which I did, and following an assessment was lucky enough to be offered 18 months of weekly counselling sessions. By the end of the 18 months I had worked through many of the difficulties I had experienced and felt more confident, happier with myself, able to set boundaries, build positive relationships and look forward positively. I had also somewhat observed the counselling process in our latter sessions noting the relationship we had as counsellor and client, observing different responses and skills, and the impact they had on me and my development. A few months after our last session I contacted a local youth counselling service, completed their training, and volunteered as a counsellor with them for three years.

Counselling had helped me by giving me the opportunity to share, make sense of and accept my experiences. I could talk safely knowing I was accepted, believed, valued, understood and cared for. I then receive illumination and healing as Rogers says above. The simplicity of what I received and the enormous benefits for me, gave me a desire and motivation to give others what I had received. Following many years of supporting individuals in mental health and counselling, I feel proud to be part of the process of healing and helping which continues to help many people who are hurting in different ways.

Sarah Greaves