‘Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others, for the countless unknown souls to whose fate we are connected by a bond of compassion. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of others, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.’
Lovely quote from Einstein.
This idea of service is increasingly important to me.
I see this woven through what we offer here, in our counselling service.
We operate a gift culture. Our therapists volunteer their time for at least half a day/week, alongside all kinds of ‘day job’ strands in their worlds; our office volunteers also offer us their time, and bring diverse skills and experiences to our community; our clients pay a contribution to our running costs ‘according to means’, so that we do not need to turn people away on the grounds of money, and those who can afford to, pay a commercial rate for the service we offer – effectively helping to gift that service to those on low incomes who pay less.
There is an inter-dependency and mutual support in this – we can afford to run on this basis only because we pay no-one a salary. Other services, which do pay salaries, then need to chase funding in order to pay the bills. That is a massively time-consuming task, and funders tend to impose many constraints and requirements, also taking up time and reducing creative freedom/autonomy.
Our model allows us to focus our time/energies on client work, and to operate from a place of internal locus and to person-centred principles – so we are freed to think about whatever arises, in terms of: ‘does this serve our clients?’; ‘ is it in line with how we want to be/what we want to offer, in the world, as human beings, as therapists?’; ‘where are we with it ethically/intuitively/philosophically?’ – rather than ‘will it meet funding requirements?’.This enhances the creative energy, space, flexibility and freedom in what we offer.
Our therapists bring the fruits of their own personal journeys – through their counselling training, through their personal work in therapy, through their varied experiences in practice as therapists, through their manifold life experiences – and offer all that resource and richness, in the service of their client work here. Their clients take the fruits of work in their sessions here – e.g. in terms of specific changes in how they communicate or manage their own process; and sometimes in terms of deep transformative healing and change – back into their relationships and communities, with the potential for expanding out healing and growth at a personal, relational and societal level.
Which takes me back to Einstein’s idea of service – a beneficent cycle of gifting and offering, that serves us all.
Lindsey Talbott, Therapist
Palace Gate Counselling Service