Click on the above link to visit Monica Cassani’s treasure trove site, http://www.beyondmeds.com, for a post on how trying to change yourself can be an ineffective strategy. Carl Rogers agreed with her on this (and so do we):-
“..we cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.”
Carl Rogers: On Becoming a Person
Of course, this seems counter-intuitive in a culture such as ours, infused with values around achievement, goal-based effort and the ideas that it is only through struggle and self-discipline/restraint that we achieve anything. The writer would argue these values/ideas are culturally unhelpful in a wider way – but whatever your standpoint might be on that, they are not useful in therapy.
People coming to therapy are often strongly focused on a desired destination – they are engaged with where they want to be, hence coming to therapy in the first place. Of course, it is inevitable and also useful to have a sense in therapy of what the intention is – but if desired changes become the centre of attention/effort in the therapy, at the expense of the person in the client’s chair moving into a deeper experiencing of their here-and-now reality, the therapy is likely to be ineffective. So the challenge to the therapist is to acknowledge/honour that person’s intentions and longings for themselves, whilst creating a safe container in the therapeutic relationship in which they will be supported to meet more of who they are right now.
Love the quote from Anne Baring:-
‘They will remain shut away behind a hedge of thorns. The journey in search of soul is difficult and even dangerous because it requires that we relinquish the certainty of what we think we know and what we have been taught for generations to believe. It means surrendering the desire to be in control and opening ourselves to a quest, a path of discovery. Many myths and fairy tales emphasize the need for surrender and trust in the strange non-rational guidance offered by animals or shamans on the quest. As the hero follows their guidance, so the hedge opens, the way unfolds. Following the guidance and wisdom of the instinct is the royal road into the realm of soul.’
The Beyond Meds site is a wonderful and rich resource, on the use of/withdrawal from psychiatric drugs, iatrogenic illness and, indeed, on being a human in this world….. Many thanks, Monica.
Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter
Counselling Exeter since 1994