Reading our website about ‘What happens in a counselling session’, you will find a somewhat prosaic description of a ‘confidential meeting between a counsellor and a client’. Yet what happens is multifaceted, and can be life-enhancing and life-changing, profound and discomforting. So many emotions can be present that basic descriptions inevitably fall short. This can be the place where real change becomes a possibility, in an environment of trust and honesty. It can be where a person finds the courage to sacrifice what they are for what they could become.
And this is something we at Derby Counselling Centre have been doing since 1981, when our founder, Eric Wall, had the idea to offer local people affordable professional counselling, as a not-for-profit charity. Since that time, thousands of clients have been helped and supported by the counsellors at our city-centre location. Some will come for just a few sessions, some for many more. They will come with a limitless variety of issues; anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, and anger. They will be addicted, abused, mistreated, and without confidence. They may self-harm, feel suicidal, angry, despairing, and adrift. They will be from different backgrounds and cultures, social classes and ethnic groupings. In short, they will reflect the complexity of the human condition; no one client is alike. The one constant, however, is that they will be offered a safe and non-judgmental space to explore their issues. They will be treated with empathy and respect, something they may not have experienced before. The counsellor will not set an agenda but walk alongside them, as they embark on a journey to who they might want to be.
To reflect the complexity of our clients and the variety of their needs, the counsellors will use a number of different approaches: person-centred or humanistic counselling, psycho-dynamic, CBT, gestalt, attachment, etc. But whatever the model, the essential element to facilitate growth is the therapeutic relationship between counsellor and client. This is based upon trust, openness, being genuine, and unafraid. The presence the counsellor offers a client can have a profound and lasting effect upon them, especially if they have been neglected or marginalised in their lives.
At Derby Counselling Centre, we believe in the capacity of the person to develop and change their lives. We do not diagnose, offer advice on pharmacy, or prescribe ‘conditions’ to our clients. Nor do we use ‘techniques’ that can create a divide and dilute the experiential connection that is crucial to personal growth. Yes it is just two people talking: but how rich and affirmative can that be, when the ‘core conditions’ of positive listening and empathic understanding are present.
We do not promote the notion that counselling is a ‘cure’, even if it does have the capacity to engender change in a person. Rather, it is a way for a client to discover themselves, reflecting on their current situation and on the life events that might have led them to this. Through this, they may achieve some sort of resolution and acceptance of who they are, and then be able to see themselves in a more compassionate and empathic light. Going forward, their life resources can be enhanced by the objective reflection counselling allows and this consideration, if received with respect, can encourage deeper exploration. Counselling offers both the simplicity and the complexity of human connection; it provides the environment in which a client can discover and become used to talking about and reflecting upon themselves; and this can enable the client to evaluate, grow, and move forward as a stronger more confident person.