People entering counselling often wonder, ‘Will I get through this? Will the angst or dilemma go away?’ The answer is – there is no cure but there is healing. As Jung observed, “Analysis is no once-and-for-all ‘cure’; it is no more, at first, than a more or less thorough readjustment.”
For trauma expert Judith Herman, healing or “recovery can take place only within the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation.” Psychologist Arthur Egendorf concurs. Healing coincides with “trusting at least one human being to hear us through our own pain, enough to realize that in voicing the formerly unspeakable we gain the freedom to say how life is and will be for us.”
The therapeutic relationship between the client and the counselor is a unique relationship. It is, as Herman claims, “a relationship of existential engagement in which both parties commit themselves to the task of recovery.”
Counselling goes beyond building trust by taking an interest in what people say, it is witnessing and guiding people through their concerns, challenges and pain. It often uncovers the deeply hidden realities and feelings surrounding past abuse, childhood wounding and losses.
According to Deepak Chopra, our psychic pain or suffering is the result of not knowing the true reality of who we really are. Healing occurs when there is a shift in identity – a shift from who we believe we are to who we really are.
In order to find out who we really are, we need to turn inward. As Terry Neill stated, “Change is a door that can only be opened from the inside.”
The shift, as with most change, will require necessary losses of parts of us such as past roles, perceptions around our parents and childhood, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and even some no-longer-working-for-us values and beliefs. Our egos, however, fearing any such loss, will resist the change, creating confusion and adding to our suffering.
Thus, the task of the counsellor is to journey with people as they work with the confusion and ambivalence as their inner worlds collide. There is no taking-sides or directing people’s decisions, as the person’s psyche or soul will provide the inner wisdom in time.
Healing is assisting people in ‘holding the tension’ between what their ego wants and what their soul desires. It is to state the difficulty and discomfort, to name the suffering, and to encourage courage and perseverance in staying in this state, trusting that when ready, something does shift.
Healing occurs when former interfering ways are removed, allowing our long-awaiting strengths and desires to be revealed which can now be applied to the creation of a new way to look at self, society and the future.
As Helen Keller stated, “The only way to the other side is through.”