I have always been a big advocator for counselling. I personally believe that it is a healthy habit for individuals to have (me included), as it allows for an opportunity to reflect, grow, and work through emotional pain. I know there are many stereotypes and misconceptions about what counselling is all about. Many end up talking themselves out of attending a session, due to the fear of being labelled as “crazy” or as “someone with issues”. However, if people were more open to this approach to health, I think we would be seeing a lot less stress in families, couples and individuals. As I was reflecting myself on why I advocate for counselling as a great tool of personal development, I came to the inevitable reflection of why I enjoy counselling others. My reflection brought me to these three points, that today I want to share with you:
1. Counselling allows me to hold hope for those who have lost it
I read somewhere that the job of a social worker was to “temporarily hold onto hope for those who have lost it, and hold it all the way until they are willing to take it back”. I remember reading that concept and thinking that it actually summarizes in a very nice way the work that most of us do in the counseling field. Something I have observed in my private practice is that, most people willing and ready to attend counseling usually do it when they are facing a sense of loss. The loss of a relationship, of an ability to do something they used to do with ease, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, the loss of sleep, etc.… So, by the time a client is sitting in my office, I suspect that they have, somewhat, lost a bit of hope. As weird as this may sound, this is when I get really excited to get to work. I can’t think of a more satisfying job than to see an individual claim their hope back. It is so uplifting that by simply typing this, my chest gets filled with compassion and excitement. It really is my favorite aspect of providing counselling.
I see hope as a flame of light that gets big or small, depending on the wind, storm or sunny days that the person is experiencing. Just like the weather conditions, we all get to experience some unexpected changes in our lives that alter the way in which we feel, think and behave. When a person goes through stormy moments in their life, it is easy to think that the storm will never pass, and that’s how the fire of hope gets diminished. It is in those moments that they need to be handed an umbrella and be reminded that there are sunny days ahead, just like there were sunny days in the past. In my opinion, counseling is like that umbrella. It protects you from the storm without taking your awareness away from the fact that it is raining. The umbrella holds space for you to rest during the storm and to observe the changes around you. Maybe at first, the counselor is the one who holds the the umbrella open, but over time, you find the courage to hold it yourself. Witnessing that process of having my clients hold onto their own umbrellas is the fire the energizes me time after time, and the number one reason I enjoy counselling others.
2. I get to help more than just the mind
One of the main reasons I decided to open my private practice was because I never felt like I had the opportunity to practice in a holistic way under any employer. In my opinion, we, the clinicians, are concerned with more than just the mind of the individual. Early in my social work career, I had the privilege of being exposed to mindfulness. Through my practice of mindfulness, I quickly understood that one of the best ways to support individuals through their emotional pain was to teach them to integrate ancient practices of self-care in addition to utilizing psychological tools that have been researched and proven to work. Viewing the body, mind and soul as systems that are interconnected that cannot be worked on individually has been, and still is, highly effective. This understanding alone has made me study and practice different approaches that allow individuals to look deeper into their mind, physical body and unconscious mind. I am happy to say that I work in collaboration with many other professionals who specialize on the different modalities of healing and together we work with each individual towards one same goal.
I really enjoy teaching people the importance of seeing themselves as complex beings with three main systems that are essential to their well-being. I particularly enjoy working in collaboration with nutritionists, naturopaths, acupuncturists, as well as yoga teachers in the making of health a holistic approach to the community we serve.
3. I really enjoy teaching tools to my clients
If you have ever come to a counselling or coaching session with me, you will not be surprised by this statement because you have probably have had me teaching you a tool to use at home.
One of my biggest criticisms of traditional therapeutic work is that the work takes too long! Many sessions, many years! And do not get me wrong, I totally understand that is what is needed for some individuals and, I also know, that is the preference for others. I, however, offer counseling services that promote independence and assertiveness. I absolutely love teaching my clients tools that they can use outside of sessions, this way, they can trust their abilities to regulate their emotions and, most importantly, they will get to a point where they no longer feel that they need to have an “Olga” in their lives to be able to cope.
Along side with holding onto hope, and working from a holistic approach, I really enjoy seeing the healing power that knowledge has on my clients. I have seen individuals go from complete fear of leaving their home to being relaxed at an airport while waiting for their plane. I have seen couples transform their marriage completely thanks to understanding the power of communication tools. I have seen young children able to self-regulate their emotions and express them in their unique ways. I have seen time after time individuals transform fear into courage and achieve the goals that they set to meet in our counselling sessions. I know, this may sound unreal, but the truth is that knowledge, support, reflection and a holistic approach to health, can bring forward many wonderful benefits. I feel absolutely lucky to witness this happening time after time within the community of Olga’s Way.
If you are on the fence about getting some help, think that you may be postponing what can be a very positive and life-changing experience for you, and for those around you. So let me end this with a simple question: What’s holding you back from making your appointment with life?