Someone - I forget who - once said that both client and counsellor should feel slightly nervous before a session: neither one knows exactly what is going to happen, or what powerful emotions may be released. I must confess that I feel similar starting a blog - there's an element of vulnerability, of opening myself up to public view or criticism. So why do it? In a word: connection. When I see clients, our most effective work together tends to grow from their willingness to be vulnerable, to expose their raw thoughts and emotions. Without that courage on the client's part, it is hard to build the trust and rapport that leads to meaningful therapeutic change. So if I expect clients to do it, I really should be prepared to do the same. I hope that this blog will be a way to connect to people - potential clients, of course, but also counselling colleagues, students, and anyone who is interested in improving their mental and emotional well-being.
I will be sharing thoughts about the counselling process, as well as books, videos and other resources, and my own ideas about how to maintain good mental health. I've already mentioned connection - this is one of the most important aspects of being resilient. We evolved as a social species, we need contact with other people - our nervous systems are hard wired to feel safer when we are with people. And yet social anxiety is probably the most common issue I hear about in the counselling room. I will certainly be looking at this in more depth in future posts, but for now, here are a couple of TEDx talks that you might find interesting: firstly Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability and secondly Kalina Silverman on skipping the small talk. Brene Brown's talk is rightly famous, with nearly 50 million views, but if you haven't seen it, it is well worth watching. Kalina Silverman seems to have attracted far more criticism in the comments - Theodore Roosevelt could have been referring presciently to YouTube "keyboard warriors" when he wrote the following:
“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
I can see that Silverman's approach is not necessarily for everyone, but I think she deserves credit for inspiring us to examine our own ways of relating to other people. I'd love to know what you think about either of these talks - so please don't be shy, leave a comment!