The important of self awareness and self knowledge is sometimes not stressed sufficiently.
It is extremely valuable to seek how we are likely to react to given situations, to different people as well as learning what triggers our emotional response - this gives us the opportunity to see what is preventing us from achieving our ideal selves.
This learning about ourselves, our reactions, feelings, values and prejudices is an ongoing process.
Using the attributes of genuineness, empathy and acceptance of the other person, we provide our clients with the opportunity to examine themselves, to recognise the need for change and in the relationship, we help them achieve this change.
It is important to note though, that if we are not also open to change, then we will be frozen in a single perspective.
Gerard Egan describes effective helpers:
Ideally they first of all committed to their own growth - physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual." (Egan 1982 The Skilled Helper).
This ongoing self awareness achieved through training and support from supervisors and colleagues, refreshes our counselling abilities and maintains our stability for others.
Over involvement with those we try to help in any area may bring about a time when we have no more to give, often named 'emotional burn-out'.
Training for counselling is not just a matter of developing a few new skills - it requires setting ones psychological house in order, so that one knows who he/she is and where he/she is going."
(Tyler 1983 The Work of a Counselor p37)
1. Take some time to sit quietly and really truly examine the cause of stress.
2. In quiet time, ask yourself :
- Is this emotional reaction new in my life?
- If so, how long has it been like this, has it been increasing lately.
- What are the triggers (times, people, situations) that can cause it?
- Is the emotional reaction the real response, or am I masking one emotion with another?
3. Having found a possible reason, it is important to spend some time checking it out. A reason that appears valid today may appear different tomorrow and may also be part of a more profound situation. Examining your reaction can provide clues.
4. Spend time investigating different solutions is really valuable whether these be action or not-action orientated. Finding the cause is never sufficient in itself. It is what we do with our new knowledge that is effective and learning more about ourselves.
The responsibility for continual growth in our own well being and emotional health is firmly in our hands, as counsellors. Our own self development and growth as counsellors never ceases, with increased awareness and learning, we bring that back to our counselling sessions for the benefit of our clients and ourselves.