How counselling helps us to change

by | Oct 7, 2021 | Thoughts

Change in counselling comes about when we thoroughly accept who we are. 

One of the things I enjoy about this time of year is noticing the change of colour of the deciduous hedge that borders the park opposite my home. As I look out of my kitchen window each morning, it’s the first thing I see. As autumn takes hold, I make a point of checking each day to see if I notice the shift from green, to yellow, to brown. And yet, so imperceptible is the change, that each year, the sight of the uniformly brown hedge takes me by surprise. “When did that happen?”

For me, it’s a bit like the process of change in counselling. So many of us start therapy with big expectations that we’ll be ‘fixed’, that we’ll wake up one morning feeling transformed, lighter, freer, happier, no longer depressed, or anxious. Back to our old selves.


The truth is, experiencing change in counselling is rarely a steady incline towards a light bulb moment. It can be slower, messier, more digressive. And there are troughs as well as moments of insight. Being prepared to sit with your sadness or pain can be exhausting and draining. You might even wonder why you’re putting yourself through such agony until you notice that the pain you have described in the session no longer has quite the hold over you, that you’re more able to sit alongside it rather than feeling overwhelmed by it.

From time to time, I invite clients to reflect on how things are going, to look back at their journey so far. They are often surprised by the realisation of how far they’ve come. They also notice that the process of change is not about fixing some defect in themselves, but about acceptance.

“…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.


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