Why would you go to therapy ???
I am applying to a small start up company to start to do some online counselling. It is an area of business Cathy and I are keen to start to develop (amongst some other exciting proposals). Part of the process involves me answering the following question:
YOU ARE SPEDAKING TO JOHN, 42, AN ACCOUNTS MANABER AT A FIRM IN THE CITY.HE SAYS THERAPY IS NOT FOR HIM BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHINGWORNG WITH HIM. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE TO HIM THE BENEFITS OF THERAPY?
That really made me stop and think – gosh what would you say to a person who is really reluctant to go to counselling. Fortunately, most of the contacts we get are from people who really want to come and see us … Or have waited months to get their GP referral. I thought about it and can only recall one time in the last three years when I have had to almost ‘convince’ a person to come to counselling. For me that’s a bit of a dilemma, I believe counselling should be an act we choose to do, we attend voluntarily, not coerced by some counsellor to attend.
However, as much as one side of my brain was saying his choice – it is actually a very good question. How would I speak to someone who wanted to know about counselling and even worse felt they were being 'sent' there?
Often the question I get asked is how much is it going to cost, I often think 1) probably less than you think (but that makes me sound like a salesman and I am not) and 2) Is there a cost you can put on an experience which will hopefully help you understand yourself better, leave the shackles of the past behind and allow you to live a more fulfilling and regarding life.
So I have had to sit down and think how would I explain to fictitious John the benefits of counselling. I came up with the following...
I would explain to John lots of people experience difficulties in their life which they need help and support with and hopefully this would be the case for him. I would explain counselling allows people to speak to a professional about any concerns/issues they may have in order to allow the counsellor and John to work together to see if there are options or possibilities to resolve the problems. I would explain to john sometimes a professional, unconnected to work or his personal life can be an impartial person to work with to identify other options.
I would explain to John about confidentiality and how this functions in counselling. Given the source of the referral he may be afraid his employer will be told what is being discussed in counselling and have secondary fears for his career, reputation or advancement. I think for John this would be very important. I would explain to John that counselling is quite a structured and focused experience. We would be working on the issues he has brought into the counselling room and the goals he wants to achieve for himself. I would introduce evidence as to the efficacy of counselling and the areas in which it can be really effective. I would also be honest with John and say counselling works for the majority of people however if he felt it was not working for him, we could talk about why he thinks this may be the case so I could change or consider another approach. I would explain to John he is the person who is able to articulate his issues and often when people start talking about them, they can start to see solutions and the problems seem less overwhelming.
I would seek to get some information from John about the reasons for the referral, on the basis he should be aware an EAP referral has been made, however I would not pursue this if he is not forthcoming.
I would place my counselling it its professional setting and how our practice is shaped by the ethical framework.
I would suggest to John we met and then I could speak to him face to face to start exploring how counselling could help. I would use this telephone call to start establishing trust in me and the process. I would probably send John some information on counselling so he could read it before he attended counselling. I would also suggest John thought about how counselling may help and what gaols he wanted to achieve.
So that would be it. I would try to put the person at ease, I would be kind and compassionate to them because going to counselling can frankly be terrifying, sitting in a seat describing to a total stranger your deepest feelings, worries and concerns. Gosh that is enough to daunt us all.
I am away doing a little training at the minute and we have asked the class to look at the person and think of something really upsetting them - than imagine telling the person opposite. That is not something most of them wanted to do - yet as a counsellor I expect people to do this, how difficult must it be.
So, my application is nearly completed. I will be soon submitting it into the big electronic world to see how it is received. After it is sent I will not be able to change it so there will be no point in worrying myself about it. I have done my best, acted in accordance with my values and then I will wait and see if I am a good fit for them.
Let’s hope how I wold approach John is good enough for them.