Carl Rogers (1957) believed that 6 core conditions were necessary and sufficient for therapeutic change to occur. Thus by default he also believed that there is no need for fancy techniques, or ways of working. So, so long as the 6 conditions exist in whatever model of therapy then, he believed that over time 'therapeutic change' would occur.
I believe that these conditions seem to be taken for granted by other more cognitive models. Some therapists may not even be aware of the existence, let alone importance of the conditions, as technique or 'case formulation' takes over the therapy.
I believe bereavement counselling works and helps by giving you a safe space to explore grief for yourself, and be understood by another human being. Everyone grieves differently it is personal and cultural. Families can be brought together by grief, and also torn apart.
Therapy or counselling will help you talk about the person that died, and your feelings associated with this. You may find people avoid speaking about grief or the person that has died, this can be a very frustrating and isolating experience.
You may want everyone to know what you are going through, and that a special person has died. This can also be a very lonely place to be, as others just seem to be going about their lives without much care. People may seem superficial and shallow when you are in the midst of grief.
Emotions may be experienced in any order and may seem chaotic and raw. You may feel a range of emotions including: ashamed, low, angry, anxious, angry, depressed, empty, guilty, jealousy, and even pleased or relieved. Whatever you are feeling is right for you at the time.
The truth is you never 'get over' someone, it can just become easier to live without them. It can also feel more difficult to live with before it gets easier.
Grief is something that you adjust to, it is not an illness, and it is not something to be 'treated'. Grief is part of life - something to be experienced, it's a process, and avoiding the process is probably not going to be that helpful to you.
So take care of yourself, be gentle and kind. If you want support, then look in the right places - places where you will be valued and held.
Often within therapy counsellors will repeat back what they have heard you say. This can feel a bit strange at first, but there is a method to it. A counsellor will do this as a way of holding up a mirror to you. It helps deepen your understanding of yourself, and give you a clearer idea of what you are meaning.
Sometimes it won't sound like the therapist has got it right, it is afterall their understanding of what you have said. This gives you the opportunity to fine tune what you have meant , giving you a clearer idea of meaning, and you.
This technique is called 'paraphrasing' and many professionals will use this to check you are both on the same page.
As well as checking understanding it can help deepen empathy, and relational depth between people.
Last week I met a hypnotherapist who expressed his frustration (and rightly so) with a psychotherapist he had seen who didn't say anything to him in the first session. The poor guy didn't know what to do and he said after about 20 minutes he broke the silence with "is this what you do?" , "yes the therapist said" . I think it was a bit unprofessional of the psychotherapist to do this. It's a bit like taking someone for a driving lesson, and the teacher just sitting in the car with the learner, how ridiculous would that look..?
It can raise anxiety and frustration when your therapist leaves you in the silence. It can leave you floundering not knowing what to say, or what they want.
Silence has many uses in therapy and, it is used for very good reason. I have seen clients who have said their therapist didn't stop talking about themselves, and also people who have said their counsellor didn't say a word. Neither is probably that helpful.
So silence is used as a way of providing you space to think, and feel (or process) what is going on for you. It could be used as a way for you to take the lead, and go in the direction you want.
Imagine yourself as organism that needs water, you are programmed to go towards the moisture and water as it's good for you, but someone keeps getting in your way, it could be very dis-empowering.
You may be uncomfortable in the silences at first - you will live. At home on your own how much time do you spend in comfortable silence? It can be done with another present too, and don't worry experienced therapists are used to silence, they will be comfortable with it, so much so they may forget just how uncomfortable it can for people be at the start.
Great - finally an idea for my blog that will be satisfying to me, and hopefully some others. I'm going to write about why counsellors & psychotherapists do what they 'do', or 'don't do' as the case may be.
Counsellors & psychotherapists should have some rationale for how they are in sessions with their clients. There may be times that is not apparent to them, but they should be evaluating and reflecting on their practice to make sure that they are working to some kind of 'counselling theory' (unless they are existential, but even then they should reflect on is this of an existential approach) - so they are being helpful to their clients development.
If a therapist has no idea why their doing what they are doing , or doesn't reflect on it in anyway, then how do they know what they are doing is right for their client, or know they are offering what they say they offering.
So watch this blog. 'Why does my therapist...?'
Chris Rudyard MNCS Accredited
Professional, experienced counsellor/psychotherapist in Liverpool