Counselling, the counsellor, the proof: Part 1

May 15, 2017

There is so much discussion on whether Counselling works, makes a difference to clients lives, whether there is any evidence and it is certainly one that most clients will ask in one form or another during the first session. In this counsellors experience, and limited to my observation of client comments and their counselling process, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the difference counselling makes is significant and often life changing.

Neuroscience as applied to counselling and relationships provides significant theoretical support for to the notion that Counselling can make a difference. This can be summarised by summarising the purpose and basis of healthy existence as being in healthy relationship with ourselves and with others.

When we are first born our brain carried with it a mass of potential just waiting to be triggered: our dormant pre-frontal cortex, anterior cingulate etc. What is really switched on when we are born is the amygdala and hippocampus regions: our fear circuits designed to react to any threat. Therefore what we most need as a baby is, yes you guessed it, a responsive loving attuned primary caregiver; ‘a good enough mother’. If we experience that start, that basis or response to our needs, that is the basis upon which our 100 billion neurons with their 10,000-100000 dendrites (connections) will start making their synaptic connections and through which we make our assumptions about the world around us and our place in it.

These assumptions will form the basis of all our interactions and relationships with our external environment and will tend to get more ingrained.  Our negative assumptions will tend to mean, for example, that we may be defensive; others will respond usually unhelpfully to that defensiveness seeing it as aggressive, which will simply confirm our negative assumptions about ourselves. ‘The negative feed-back loop’, a common encounter in the counselling room.

In part 2 I will consider why and how it is that counsellors can make a difference to clients who have not had that good enough start….

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Cheltenham Counsellor - practicing in Cheltenham and  serving Cirencester, Stroud, Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Northleach. Within 30 minutes by car.

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