Counsellors in counselling


Before counsellors become a counsellor, part of our training was that we had to have counselling ourselves. After all, we must practice what we preach. If I haven’t forego therapy, how can I promote something I’m selling without experiencing the benefits for myself? Any good and well established school of psychology would insist upon this as part of professional development. Each students of psychology need to be have counselling as a requirement. Although, I have had some counselling prior to my Psychotherapeutic Counselling training, as I progress through further studies, I am undergoing further counselling as well as supervision.

I don’t think there is any shame in disclosing this fact that perhaps clients are not aware of. It is just as scary for us in therapy as we continuously work through our self-awareness as a therapist. As a counsellor under counselling, I do understand the nervous tension of disclosing some underlying fears that may not have been shared with anyone else. I understand it in my own way, which may be different to the way you understand nervous tension and fears, because the way I interpret situation will be different to the way you interpret your world. Although, we are looking at the outer world, our inner world is different due to our life experiences.

Before I’d chosen my counsellors, I had research the therapist, browsing their website and tried to get a sense of what this person is like. Depending on what modality of counselling you’re after, and it may not have any relevant to you, but it does to me. I chose a therapist based on their location to me, and their field of expertise (their modality eg: Psychoanalytic, Person-Centred, Cognitive Therapy, Transactional Analysis etc.) Over the past 20 years or so, counselling field have expanded and it can be difficult to choose a modality suitable for you. If in doubt, try an Integrative therapist who has wide range of modality like Psychotherapeutic Counselling, where many interventions are used during sessions. If you choose a therapist that hold similar views to some of your belief and you get a sense that this type of therapy is for you, your time in therapy can be rewarding and fulfilling.

For me, in therapy session, since I am paying, I want to make the most of the session and utilize the time resourcefully. It is a great way to get things off my shoulders. If the hour flies by, I know that it was a good session. Just as I learn new things in my daily life, I learn new things about me with every session and this is like reading a good book, once you start, you cannot put down.

I enter each session without any expectations and eagerness. This way I can just speak my mind. If I entered the therapy room with expectation that the therapist is going to wave the wand and get rid of my problems. Hmmm, what do you think will happen? You will be disappointed. Disappointed that you have got the response that you wanted? Disappointed that you didn’t get the affirmation to your problem but lots of challenges? Disappointed that the problem is still there?

If you treat your therapist as an individuals who has your best interest at heart than you may find this more useful. If you persist, persevere, and have patient, you won’t be a patient for long.

For me, although I am qualified as an Integrative Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, I am striving for growth. So in my effort for growth, even though I am fully qualified and fully accredited, I am pursuing further studying into Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy – which fits with me. This model feels right with me. Like any trade person, you need to have the right tools for the job. Psychosynthesis Psychotherapy is another tool on my belt. As I see value in my therapy, I can see that I want to make the most of my sessions, and as I want something, I need to put the effort into it. Being in counselling gives me the insight into apprehension, consternation and disquietude that clients maybe feeling when embarking on therapy for the first time. But, like everything we perceived in the internal dialogue, the reality is somewhat quite diverse.

Just like you, we also strive for growth. Just like you, we also have skeletons in our closet. Just like you, we have our own path in which we seek.

Secrets never to be told


Secret is defined as ‘something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others’. Most of us have secrets never to be told, and there lie a paradox. I don’t anyone that doesn’t have a skeleton in their closet. As you keep secrets, there will be danger involve in keeping up with the lies that are attached to the secret. Secret involves deliberation of choice; how long to keep the secret, why keeping secret, and who else know about the secret. Those who hold power holds secrets.

The science behind secret is the power that you hold over someone who do not know what is going on. I know the costs of secrets and it made me really unhappy. It is like keeping a lid on a boiling pan! Inevitably, the intense pressure will blow the lid from the pan.

Keeping secrets can be for a good intention, protecting someone from exposure for their own safety for a short period of time. The content of the secret matters a great deal – keeping a secret about a family holiday to a-once-in-a-life time destination will not cause any harm. This is what I’d call safe secret. However, in long term the decision to keep secret causes anxiety and guilt. Depending on the severity and intensity of the secret, the person may be overwhelmed with emotions that it seeps through the pores, affecting rational behaviours, psychological well-being, resulting in mental breakdown.

Unsafe secret is one that is destructive, traumatic and life changing. Why do many families keep secrets can help explain this. What is being kept secret explains some common motivations. Secret leads to lie, lie leads to cheat, and cheat leads to fear. And we know (from the force of Star Trek) that fear leads to the dark side.  A secret have ways of stacking up and escalating, affecting everyone, like a domino effect. Secret becomes unconscious as we ‘chunk up’ it’s value. As an example: A friend once disclosed a secret of his affair to me – I would keep the secret by telling myself that it is for the best if his wife do not know. I’m a good friend for keeping his secret. It is supporting him and reassuring him that he is not necessarily to blame. I would convince myself that it is for the best, until he is able to reveal the secret etc.

Secrets are riddled with shame and guilt. The person holding the secret is unable to logically think of a way out. Fearing what will happen when the family find out and fearing judgement (aka Social Phobia).

Holding a secret is not necessarily unhealthy – if you partner is being secretive in his behaviour, it doesn’t necessarily means he’s promiscuous, it could be that he secretly plans when to ask you to marry him, planning your surprise birthday party, or planning a surprise anniversary holiday etc. Only unsafe or harmful secrets are ones that causes internal incongruent and violate our moral codes. It is ones that is sadistically sinful. It is ones that is self-destructive and horrifically harmful. It is ones that evokes disapproval from others. When a secret is disclosed to this person, the strong cathartic desire to spill the beans greatly influence the person to reveal the moral secret. Communicating the secret is partly self-preservation, so that they can feel better when revealing, and partly to justify their value system.

Family secrets often revolves around an abuse of some sort. Many secret persists in most families, it persists because what is going on behind closed door – stay behind closed door. It is the family code not to reveal what is going on in the family to outsiders. Secret acts to sustain and maintain a unified front. United we stand. But, it doesn’t have to be that way – you can break the destructive noose around your neck! Break the chain and break out against secrecy. Breaking out the family secret does not mean that’s dishonouring or bring shame to the family. Breaking out means doing what is right.

For the person that breaks the moral code of secrecy, there are disapproval and dismissal from other family members, as they maintain peace and harmony within the family unit. Breaking out can leave the person without support from other family members who may be skeptic or shock about the revelation that you are shunned. As part of the psychological processes a person has to juggle whether or not to reveal versus the implications of the revelation within the family. This is a small price for doing the right thing. The greater price is a stronger and more supportive family unit as everyone readjust their life position as a result of the secret revelation. Family that stay together, pray together.

As a spoiler, I rarely keep unsafe secrets from people around me. And I especially do not keep unsafe secrets within my family or close relationship. Keeping unsafe secrets do not sit right with my moral codes, and being a counsellor, this is an important ethical considerations. When a client discloses secret that has risks of personal safety or safety of a child, my ethical duties is to report my suspicions to authority or relevant protective services.  This is the only exception in the confidentiality statement, more on this in my T&C. Your secret is save with me.