Counselling: A Holistic Perspective
Experiences in life can be tremendously injurious and painful yet no matter how deep the wounds, our Wholeness and Integrity cannot be damaged. Even if it seems so at times. At the very heart of my work lie the principles of holism and healing and I see my work as a therapist to be one of companion and wise counsel on the path of reconnecting with one’s Wholeness.
Defining Healing: Healing, in the broadest sense means to restore to health or soundness; to repair; to cure. The process of healing is easiest observed on a physical level, when a bone is broken or the skin is cut. As soon as the injury occurs, the innate healing ability of the body is set in motion and after the required time, some good medicine, rest and support the injury is healed and the body restored to health. The process of healing physically is not dissimilar to the process of healing emotionally, mentally and spiritually. However, while a broken bone is relatively easy to diagnose and the cause is usually quite clear, internal wounds of a non-physical nature are often not as easily determined and require the therapist to be skilful in inquiry and assessment and have much knowledge, expertise and experience to help the process of healing and growth.
Every person who arrives in therapy is a complete individual with a unique history and living within a distinct context. When we first meet, it is my task to step into the life the client is presenting to me, find my bearings and understand and then work, together with the client, on new possibilities. The qualities that guide my work are: respect, care and kindness, empathy and compassion, patience and genuine presence and engagement. At the same time there is a firm focus on change, a commitment to balance pausing and deepening with movement and action.
How long? How deep?: Just as a person might go to the doctor with a cut in the skin or a major, life-threatening illness, so might a person come to a counsellor or psychotherapist with a current life-issue that is fairly straight-forward to solve or with a long-standing, complex, deep distress that needs more time, deeper engagement and stronger guidance from the therapist. In the first couple of sessions the client and I decide together on the number and frequency of sessions which is based on the client’s needs, current situation and desired outcomes.
I have worked therapeutically with hundreds of people and I have come to see that there are a number of distinct components that need to be addressed in the process of healing.
1. The pain of the current situation: mostly people come into counselling in much emotional pain-a separation, a loss, an illness, or an overall dissatisfaction or even despair with life. In therapy this pain is heard and seen, held with kindness, cared for and given as much time and space as it needs. Its origins can be given voice, its depth understood and its impact explored.
2. The blockages to healing: if healing were straight forward there would be little need for professionals like me. Many things can get in the way of healing and usually people have little knowledge of these obstacles. Often there are unhelpful beliefs or out-dated values that get in the way. Life-experiences and trauma often shape how a person experiences their current situation and these need to be addressed. Childhood events often impact deeply but move into the background of knowing; these may need to be processed. Current life-style choices, relationships or work situations may need to be re-evaluated. It is often the independent yet caring point of view that offers the client new perspectives.
3. The vision for a happier life: at times people who come to see me are surprised to be asked what a happier, more satisfactory life might look like for them. It never occurred to them to articulate a clear vision. Others are quite clear and have a strong sense of direction already; it is more the obstacles that need to be addressed. There are many layers to this, of course, and from a holistic perspective it means being happier in body, mind, heart and soul as well as feel a sense of integrity in relationships, health and life-style.
4. The path to get there: there are many ways to healing and there are many therapeutic approaches that are taught and practiced to support the healing process. The methods that guide my work are based in humanistic, existential and holistic principles. As a therapist I became aware some years ago of the growing use of meditation and mindfulness as a tool for healing in therapy. With more and more research available it became clear to me that mindfulness practices were not only complementary to my existing work as a therapist but could expand my ability to help clients with different presenting issues. I include strength-based approaches, work creatively and experientially and work very closely with my clients own personality, potential and preferences. I am a lecturer at university and teach counsellors and psychologists to become professionals and as such need to stay abreast of latest development in therapeutic research and practice. I am actively engaged in ongoing professional development; I read widely, have regular supervision and am committed to my own personal and spiritual development.
5. The way to sustain the good life: in addition to gaining insight and making new choices for one’s life the goal of therapy is to sustain and grow what has been gained. When the counselling relationship comes to an end, long-term plans are made, resources offered and support structures put in place. In addition, I have an ‘open-door policy’ which means that my clients are welcome to come back any time they need support and guidance.
You may have questions about counselling and psychotherapy, about how I work, whether I have experience working with the particular issue you are facing, fee structure and more. Contact me via email or mobile phone: 0419 980 923 to have an initial conversation and to make an appointment.