Pebbles, stones and rocks are commonplace in most parts of the world. There are few people who don’t know what it is like to walk with a pebble in a shoe. Thankfully, stones and rocks are less likely to bother most of our footwear! That said, the fact remains that most people have burdens of varying degrees to carry through life’s journey. Whether it be similar to a pebble in a shoe or something more burdensome, it always helps to talk, whether it be with a trusted friend or a professional therapist.
Pastoral and Psychological Counselling is a therapeutic encounter with a qualified psychotherapist – counselor who also has formal training and certification in theology and spirituality. When we think about our life story we can see that we have habits and patterns of behaviour which for the most part define us and make us who we are. We embody a physicality which is cognitive, intuitive, emotional, biological, sexual etc. It is how these parts of us relate to each other which determine how healthy or unhealthy we are in ourselves. If we are not at peace with ourselves, we cannot be just or fair to each other and in our wider social relationships.
Underlying our individual characteristics is a spirituality of “something”. Spirituality throughout history has mostly been informed by religious belief. However whether we profess a religious belief or not we remain spiritual beings. Spirituality is that which helps us make sense of our human experience in the world around us. As Christians we believe our lives are graced by the God of Jesus Christ who came into the world so that we all may have life and have it to the full (Jn 10:10). As Christians we know that spirituality is at the core of being human. Spirituality is at the deepest part of our being and it is often the shyest part as well. However shy it may be, when authentically recognized it serves to balance and inform positive interaction between our feelings, thoughts, words and deeds. When we are in touch with our deepest selves we are most conscious of who we are and what we are capable of becoming. We are also better able to meet and confront the experiences, events, traumas and assumptions or beliefs which prevent us from becoming all God dreams for us to become.
When we experience loss, whether it be the death of a family member, a relationship breakup, leaving one’s country of origin, loosing one’s job, retiring or some other life challenge, it can be very painful and disorientating. Psychological and Pastoral Counselling is a means of helping to gain perspective, insight and wellbeing from turbulent life experiences.
Similarly addictive behavior patterns be it food, alcohol, gambling or any other such compulsions can result in ruptured relationships, depression and internal conflict. It is often through our relationships that we realize that the deepest part of our being has not been recognized, respected and cared for. Counselling helps achieve healthy life functioning first of all by seeing how we are within ourselves, which in turn will have a positive and constructive influence on our family and social relationships. To be able to love our neighbour, we must first love ourselves and to love ourselves we must care for all those parts which make us uniquely who we are. To wholely care for myself will result in wellness and healthty life functioning which in turn will positively impact on family, work and social relationships.
A therapeutic relationship is an agreement between the counsellor and individual to meet once weekly for fifty minutes usually over a period of six to eight weeks but this can be for a longer timeframe depending on issues and challenges which emerge.
That pebble in the shoe can sometimes easily be removed while at other times we may need someone to walk with us awhile.