I don’t think I’ve talked about my actual work much on my blog. I haven’t done any counselling for a few years as my role has changed. I still deliver therapy, but in different ways than counselling.
I don’t intend to break any confidentiality, but I wanted to talk about a counselling session which had a huge impact on me a few years’ ago; one which I equate to a spiritual experience.
It was almost 10 years’ ago that I had a client come to see me about difficulties she was experiencing. We’ll call her Emily, obviously not her real name. She was a lady in her later years, married with children, and she had a lovely warm personality. She felt really stuck and didn’t feel as though she could move forward.
During the first session we discussed her difficulties and at the end I suggested she might like to bring in some photographs from her life into the next session, as these often helped people to discuss things in more detail.
The next session arrived and unfortunately she had to cancel because she’d had a commitment come up that she couldn’t miss. Fair enough I thought, but missed sessions early on ring alarm bells for me. It sometimes signaled that the client wasn’t quite ready for counselling at that time.
The second session
My hunch was wrong on this occasion and the following week Emily came for her session and had even brought some photographs. We looked through the photographs a few times, but Emily kept coming back to one in particular. That photograph became the focus of our session.
We sat talking about the picture and the feelings it evoked for Emily. There were also many times throughout the session that we sat in silence just looking at the photograph; these moments didn’t feel awkward at all. There was an energy in the room that I cannot explain even now, but something was happening.
Now, a ‘therapeutic hour’ usually lasts for 50 minutes so that the counsellor has 10 minutes in between clients to process what’s been discussed and prepare for the next client. I remember going to look at the clock thinking that only 10 minutes had passed, and was stunned to realise that 40 minutes had gone by.
It was hard to believe that what had seemed like a few minutes had been much longer. We’d both been so engrossed in the session that time had escaped us.
Something shifted for Emily in that session. Talking about the photograph and the meaning she derived from it had a huge impact upon her. She said she’d found understanding and forgiveness. She said she’d managed to ‘let go’ of the things that were holding her back.
At the end of the session, and tears in both our eyes, Emily thanked me and gave me a big hug. She was so excited, it was like she’d discovered the meaning of life. Perhaps she had; the meaning of her life. Emily wasn’t sure whether she needed to come back, but I suggested we meet the following week just in case she had anything further to discuss.
The following week came and again, an urgent commitment came up which Emily had to attend to. I thought I wouldn’t see her again.
I was wrong once again and the next week Emily came for what turned out to be her final session. I asked how she’d been since our last session. She said her whole outlook on life had changed; she was more positive about the future and had found closure from her past. She looked different as well; she had a totally different energy radiating from her. It was beautiful to witness.
I asked whether there was anything else that she wanted to explore in our sessions and she beamed a huge smile, saying that she felt she’d achieved what she needed to. She gave me another big hug and we both smiled and laughed.
Emily walked out of the counselling room, knowing she had a brighter future ahead of her. I sat in the room for a while, feeling emotional and quite bewildered about what had happened in the three sessions we’d worked together.
What do I think happened?
I’ve written before about the importance of listening to others and acknowledging what they’re telling us. I truly believe that there is more to the human connection than just two bodies, consisting of muscles and tissues, interacting with one another. When humans really connect with one another, powerful things can happen.
Whether it’s healing old wounds or lifting people to states of happiness they’ve never felt before, our connection with others can be be truly magical if we allow it to be.
I do still think of Emily; it was an incredibly special experience. Emily was able to cut the cords from her past that had bound her for so long. From my point of view it was the feeling of intense connection, of an energy that had entered that session and changed us both. It’s an experience I’ll cherish forever.