What happens to people?
As people, at different times in our life, we have individual crises such as loss, death, destruction, abandonment and betrayal.
As survivors of these situations we can often be left feeling helpless, depressed, full of guilt, or angry. Sometimes clients describe it to me as ‘in a black hole’ or a ‘being pulled down into a downward spiral’ ‘trapped’ or ‘up against a wall’.
Clients may find it difficult to control their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and may be experiencing uncomfortable sensations or having upsetting images.
Often we find, as we get talking in counselling sessions, things revealed, such as,
- They doubt the possibility of existing without danger,
- They don’t feel able to control their destiny,
- Their confidence in their decision-making has gone.
What is the impact?
These people may feel angry or rageful. They might have a sense of powerlessness. It is common to oscillate between the two concepts of self (on the one hand ‘important and angry’ and on the other hand ‘insignificant’). They may lie awake at night thinking. They might be battling with solutions and come to no satisfactory way to put the situation to rights, or let it rest. This might lead the person into frustration, or being fatigued.
Temptation to adopt a ‘victim’ identity is quite strong. I speak with clients who are going through all of this and they commonly discount all previous achievements and cannot account for future accomplishments. The trauma has taken over and clouded their whole experience.
How can counselling help?
Through counselling we can move from being a victim to becoming a victor. Using the counselling conversations for reaching the inner pain and then discovering our inner strength.
The aims of the counselling are to acknowledge what happened, how it is impacting you and how to move forward.
What can we do in counselling?
The part of therapy that is about moving on from acknowledgment may include such things as:
- Understanding what happened
- Discovering coping resources
- Changing priorities and assuming self responsibility for healing
- Build a flexible balancing of tension and relaxation
- Developing strategies for dealing with crisis, stress and trauma
- Develop positive affirmations of resilience
- Possibly discovering compassion and using forgiveness
- Perhaps engaging in mourning / using rituals
- Re-examine personal space
- Rebuild trust
If you wish to understand yourself more, as counsellor and client we can look at many different facets of limiting ways of being, find the positive in them. We might look at:
- The way that you think
- The things that you believe
- The way that you regulate emotions
- The expression of feelings
- Your physiology
Clients are recounting personal recollections of traumatisation in a safe place and they may use, not only words, but also share dreams and nightmares, use metaphors and stories.
What is the outcome?
Everyone is different, and each person may wish to work towards a differnt outcome - one that is right for them.
By talking through these things, and dealing with the associations, we can elicit new ideas and possibilities, which can take over from the old patterns of thought and response.
As a counsellor I don’t give the answers. There is no one single appropriate method for coping with all crises reactions. Each person has their own specific combination of coping modes and resources. Each person finds his or her own answers. And we do this together.
Clients need someone to bear witness to what they have gone through, or are going through. They need to be acknowledged and listened to. They need to express their reactions. They need to revisit some things in a safe environment (the counselling space).
Ultimately, clients acknowledge, and describe their pain, and then move through it. They then plan strategies of self rescue, reach a place of emotional and psychological safety. Feel once again secure and confident, and regain their potency and personal power.