We live in a busy world with a glut of information and “self-help” advice being thrown at us though social media. Along the way traditional therapy seems to be getting lost in the mix. As a professional therapist and professor I often tell my psychology students that therapy is at risk of becoming irrelevant if we do not find a way to bring the ‘practical’ back to counselling.
Many people envision therapy as the answer to some sort of problem-based experience, in which they recline on a couch and talk about their past. The entertainment industry loves to characterize this aspect of therapy, right down to the stoic therapist saying, “How do you feel about that?” The client lays on a well-upholstered sofa, or at the very least sits on a large comfy chair, and talks endlessly about his or her feelings or past. In these portrayals, the therapist is a dispassionate, neutral being who asks occasional questions and shares academic-sounding insights. Another popular depiction of counselling is a room filled with wind chimes and incense, and a woman in flowing robes encouraging you to get in touch with your inner child. Neither of these are my experience of counselling, nor would I think my clients would describe anything close to these circumstances — except for the fact that as a tall woman I tend to wear long skirts and I do have some comfortable furniture that I prefer my clients not lie on!