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  • Fe Robinson

The meaning you make depends on the context

I’ve been exploring recently the reality that the meaning we make of things always depends on the context.  We can be quite certain of what something means, and then, if the context shifts, all of a sudden we see things in a different light and that meaning changes.

This is particularly apparent in the lively arena of couples counselling.  In individual psychotherapy there is only one person in the room who has knowledge of what has and is happening outside of the therapy room for the client, the client themselves.  This puts therapists in the position of really checking out congruence and building their internal map of what the client’s reality is from the information given, it can be quite stretching sometimes to get to the bottom of things.

With couples this is often not so!  Adding the third to the room brings a different perspective on the same situations and history, and oftentimes these differences are powerful in bringing more information into the room for both parties in the couple.  As more is uncovered, and couples challenge each other’s perceptions of ‘truth,’ movement can be rapid and rewarding.

There is always more information.  We are always missing the complete picture.  We make meaning based on what we expect to happen, we are prediction machines, this is what consciousness is.  Our filters influence what we notice, and what we notice influences what we think and feel, and what we do.  Expanding filters and letting in new and different information is a powerful agent of change.

Next time you get stuck in a pattern of thinking that is not serving you, ask, what am I not noticing?  Stand somewhere different and look onto the situation from there.  Put yourself fully into the shoes of the other people involved.  Take time to consult people who’s insight you trust and value.

If you have one way of looking at something you are stuck.  Two ways give you a dilemma.  If you have three or more ways of explaining something you have choice, and you have new possibilities.  Truth generally is what you believe to be true.  That’s a good reason for being really careful about what you choose to believe.

For couples counselling or individual psychotherapy in person in Darlington or online across the UK, get in touch on 01325 467042 or at


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