I have been asked many times why I chose to be a counsellor and if I find it hard listening to other people’s stories each day. My answer every time is that I love my work and feel very privileged that I am trusted with such precious information about peoples’ lives.
For some years, I worked in a couple of roles within mental health and the work was incredibly rewarding. However, many of my clients felt they were not really listened to, that many of the professionals they worked with were only interested in their symptoms or details regarding their illness, and not in who they were or what made them tick. Within my work, I discovered what a difference it made to my clients when I could give them time and space to talk about what was important to them. I encouraged them to share their story and we could then work with that, and look at what was important to them to change. Even within the limited time frame I had to work to, I could see how simply being heard could make radical differences to how they saw themselves, and therefore their place in life.
My observations in these roles led me to look at counselling training and how I could create a safe space where clients could feel able to talk about what matters to them, and support them to discover what changes they wanted to make for themselves. Having the freedom to be curious about what my clients need, and to build our work together according to this, is very freeing both for me and them. I don’t hide behind a façade created by the powers that be, I don’t have to set time limits on how long a person needs my support, and the client remains central to what we do at all times.
I have often been the first person someone could share certain information about, whether this is regarding deep pain, or sometimes very happy news. To be trusted with such personal and important details is quite an honour and I cherish my clients for choosing me to share it with.
As a counsellor I get to walk a little bit of someone’s journey and to see the changes that can be brought about because of this is humbling at times. I get the chance to witness so many small, but often life changing, moments and to be a part of it. Due to a combination of life experience and many years of training, I can offer appropriate support and use my skills to help someone improve their life. I support and encourage healing and letting go of negativity which can lead to someone being able to really see who they are and what they need. A therapist is often the first person to offer acceptance of who someone is, and permission to reach for what they need. To watch someone grow and move on from whatever was holding them back is a powerful thing for me to witness. From a very selfish point of view, I can feel that someone’s life may be a little better for having me in it for a short time; I can feel that my presence has had a positive impact on someone else.
So, when I am asked if I find my work hard or sad, I can honestly say that yes, sometimes it is, but this does not take anything away from how incredible it is. I feel life has led me to becoming a counsellor, and my years so far have been in preparation for this work. I get to meet so many interesting people, both inside and outside of my therapy room, which I would not have met otherwise and my life is richer for it.
So thank you to everyone who has been part of my journey so far, whether you be clients, colleagues, peers, friends or family. My life has so much more colour because of you all.