28 Sep The Problem and Challenge of Change in Counselling
Most commonly people decide for counseling because they seek change. They are stuck in one way or another and their current way of being in the world is not satisfactory (anymore). Often this stuck-ness comes along with feeling down or depressed, anxious, stressed, lacking energy and/or motivation, insecure, lonely, disconnected or confused. Wanting to change in a way means that one does not accept (parts or aspects of) oneself and one’s being in the world as it is at the moment. This can be a painful situation for it means that the person cannot and does not want to be who they are in the here and now. Life can be passing by day by day, as this person wants to be someone else or partially different. It is not uncommon that this dissatisfaction with oneself is increased through counseling for through the process one’s insight into how and who one is increases tremendously and the discrepancy can become even more evident. One of the major questions in counseling and psychotherapy is the counselor’s conceptualization of change and how it comes about. The other side of the coin of change is acceptance. The challenge for the counselor is to find the balance between the two – thus helping the client to change whilst accepting that what there is at the moment. Approaches to psychotherapy and counseling such as Gestalt and mindfulness, amongst others, are suspicious of focusing primarily or only on setting goals and change. Change is namely something that is made possible through the acceptance and experience of what there is in the here and now. Just as happiness is a byproduct of an engaged life, instead of a goal that can be achieved in itself, change presents itself as a byproduct of the experience, exploration and acceptance of what there is. It is a paradox that by experiencing and accepting who and how one is right now, one also gives way to become what one wants to or can be in full potential.