Person Centred Counselling

Not one for social media, here's where I share some things that strike me or strike a chord with me.

July 2019

Alone in the Arena

It’s that Wimbledon time of year again. The other evening, I was watching Cori Gauff play her third round match. The 15 year old American sensation had already beaten her idol (Venus Williams) in the first round, and a semi-finalist from 2017 (Magdalena Rybarakova) in the second. The stage was set and you could sense the anticipated script. Everything seemed to point to the fairytale continuing. I already felt for her opponent, Polona Hercog from Slovenia. She’d be the villain if she won and just another victim if she didn’t. She couldn’t win – and yet she played brilliantly and looked as if she would. She had two match points in the second set.

The crowd was so clearly on Gauff’s side. Every point she won was cheered wildly. Even Hercog’s mistakes were applauded. Audibly, it felt like it was Polona against the whole of Centre Court. Just short of 15,000 people. And visually too, there was a picture that seemed to paint the same story. There was just one person in her player’s box, where family and friends sit. In contrast, Gauff’s box was full – with parents, coach, trainer, agent etc etc. Thank goodness for that one person who was there for Hercog – someone to anchor her in a sea of noise whose tide wasn’t carrying her. Perhaps not surprisingly, she lost her way and the match. I love fairytales as much as the next person, and I looked forward to Gauff’s next match. But it did leave me wondering what it must have been like for Hercog in that arena? And what she could achieve with that same level of support?

June 2019

Root In The Garden

One day I was working in the garden. Trying to clear out a bed for fresh planting. I had done most of it, but there was one stubborn root, unmoving despite my best efforts. I worried away at it – a substantial root, with about four inches still showing above ground. I pulled it this way and that. The soil loosened around it, but it simply rocked and held firm.

I started to think it was there forever. I slowed down and rocked it more gently. But I let go of the idea of getting it out. Or at least putting so much effort into it. And, strangely, it seemed to respond differently to the change in me. After a time, I could feel it shifting more deeply in the ground. And, suddenly, I felt something give. The root – which had been hard to grip – became like a handle in my hand. And the rest of it emerged like a skipping rope, ripping softly through the soil along its length. It came out, clean as a whistle, about four feet away. What was visible had been in front of me, but the root itself came out behind and to the side.

It felt like a metaphor for counselling, for both counsellor and client. Don’t try to force things, it won't help. It'll just cause frustration and resistance. Change doesn't happen just because you’d like it to. It's a process and takes time. Just because there’s no visible movement doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. The root is often nowhere near where you started or expected. It will emerge when it’s ready. Then you can see its shape and how it connected all along. Understanding can replace struggle. And you have earned a rest!

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