Monday, February 6, 2012

Not all counsellors ...

... are created equal

Loving Life - the new Mama Bear

At the top of the world - or at
least the Tobermory, Ontario
Observation Tower
 My journey since that day in 2006 has been called remarkable.  My counsellor calls me amazing.  At different times I've called it:  emotional healing, major lifestyle changes and, most recently, a transformation.  Whatever label you want to put on it, it's real.  It's remarkable.  It's even been called amazing. It's fun.  I enjoy life.  For the first time in my life, I'm happy.  I'm having fun.  Each day is an adventure.  In short, life is good.

At the top of the world -
or at least the cliffs at Georgian Bay
 I was several years into this journey, when I was at a seminar given by a noted author, speaker and counsellor.  Her premise:  changing our thought lives, could change our stories.  At the time, she was in the process of writing a book entited, "same life, new story ".  I realize I would entitle my journey:  same life; new person.  For me, the old Mama Bear is gone.

How has this transformation come to be?  What made the difference?  Why have I been able to embark on this journey with this one counsellor when others were unable to help me?
Mischievous is my middle name
notice the hat

Conquering the Mile High Swinging
Bridge at Grandfather Mountain
(best friend and cousin conquering
said bridge with me)
What happened?  How have I embarked on such an amazing journey of healing with this counsellor when the former one not only could not help me but wounded me in the process?  The answer is simple.  Not all counsellors are created equal.  Each one has a different personality, different training, different worldview.  Some are well-versed in one topic such as child abuse and mediation while others are more well versed in other topics such as trauma.  Each has different methodology as well, i.e. a different method of getting the results desired.  There are also the dynamics of projection, transference and countertransference in play.  Clients can unwittingly touch on unresolved areas in the counsellor's life:  transference.  Each counsellor needs to be vigilant guarding against transference.  Countertransference has been at play within in with my new counsellor.  I have often in crisis moments transposed the former counsellor's face on top of hers.  Called the counsellor by the wrong name.  Both parties in a counsellor relationship need to be aware of countertransference.  I've learned to reveal to my counsellor when countertransference is taking place, because I feel safe with her, thus enabling us both to work through the issue as it arises.
The New Me in repose
You mean this isn't Mama Bear?
Then who is it?
My new counsellor is unique (at least to me).  She came to the realization some years ago that she is not the healer.  It is God healing her clients through her.  That makes all the difference to badly broken, battered client such as myself.  She's not trying to enforce her thoughts or worldview on her clients.  She is simply providing a safe place for them to work through their issues.  Reveal themselves:  the good, the bad the ugly, the angry.  Whatever.  No condemnation.  No judgements.  Simply acceptance.
Loving Life and enjoying Ottawa's
Tulip Festival, May 2010
The smile is becoming a permanent fixture
I am truly happy most of the time

She has made her office a safe place.  A welcoming place.  A place of emotional comfort.  Within that place, within that time, I am safe.  She has given me a precious gift within those walls:  the gift of (a) unconditional acceptance, but also (b) the gift of allowing me to take control of my own healing process.  She does not tell me what to do.  She does not tell me my faults.  She lets me lead in the dance.  She lets me take control of my own direction.  My own progress.  Our journey has become a three-way partnership:  God, myself and my counsellor.  How has this three-way partnership come to work?  I'm really not sure myself.  All I know is that it does work.  The proof is in the pictures.

The journey begins with a session with my counsellor in which I relate what has happened in the time since our last appointment.  We discuss things in a conversational way.  She lets me lead and does not interrupt.  She does not judge.  She does not get stuck on work choice or get upset if I vent.  She simply lets me be me and affirms me in the process.  She may interject the dynamics that are at work in my life here and give me greater understanding of what is transpiring.  But she never judges me.  She never finds me lacking.  She is warm and welcoming.  She affirms me as a human being.
My 62nd birthday,
with one of my cubs
Afterwards, my questions are answered.  I go home with a new sense of purpose.  Ready to keep going forward.  To move on to the next step.  Or to continue working on the step I'm on.  I never feel as if I need another counselling session (or another counsellor) to deal with the first one.
2011, again with Best Friend
(who is also my long-suffering hubby)

On the Chi-Cheemaun, 2011,
with my best friend
So how do I determine what I'm working on at any given point in time.  The truth is I don't.  Because the counsellor and myself have both invited God into the process, He has taken it upon himself to be the leader.  My first breakthrough came in the middle of the night when I hurt my toe on the bottom of the dresser passing through from bed to bathroom.  I started to call myself stupid.  A common occurrence at the time.  I literally hated myself.  I thought if I were prettier, more intelligent, etc., these things wouldn't have happened to me.  In a brief, very brief encounter, this thought passed through my mind:  you are many things but stupid is not one of them.  I wasn't stupid?  Then what was I?  I hadn't an idea.  But that thought stuck in my mind.  I pondered it.  I processed it.  And, in time, I came to internalize not only that I was not stupid but that my life had value.  That was the first step.

Many steps have followed since that first one.  I'm still a work in progress.  Never knowing what is going to crop up next, but knowing that God, my counsellor and significant others in my life are there to affirm me and walk through painful steps with me.

I treasure each day of life as it comes.

I treasure each member of my family.  This blog is dedicated to them for all their hard work in helping me through.





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