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  • Fe Robinson

Therapy is about clients, not therapists!

On a training course a while ago, I heard a metaphor for therapy that I liked. The trainer described the role of a therapist ole as that of a sat-nav. The client is behind the wheel and has to do the driving, while the therapist can support by providing navigational aid.

Without the client having a clear destination, there is no navigation. The client decides on their end goal or goals, saying where they want to take themselves. The client then has choices, do they follow the route suggested, or do they go some place else? Having the sat nav can help a sense of safety and having back-up, without taking away any of the autonomy of being able to decide for yourself.

The metaphor works just as well for thinking about how the goals are met in therapy. There are many routes to the same destination, many different turns that can be taken. Different counsellors and psychotherapists use different approaches, according to the way they have been trained, the continuing professional development they do, their beliefs, values, capabilities, preferences and personality.

Be confident to ask up front how a therapist works, and how this fits with what you are seeking from therapy. Finding the right fit for you is not just about whether you like and feel comfortable about the person (although this REALLY matters), it is also about making sure you are receiving support that matches your goals.

Is the therapist willing to put you centre stage and focus on attunement? Are they able to hold their own approaches and models loosely, and dance with what happens in the room? Can they flex around your way of being, without insisting you conform to what theories suggest may be real. Consciousness is a universal, and yet unique experience. We all differ, and the most important task of a therapist is to meet us where we are, to come alongside us, and then to help us chart out the potential routes we can take and to choose between them.

I love this metaphor pointing out that the client is in charge of their destiny, and is at choice. That is just as therapy should be.


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