Nestling into the subconscious: An Interview with Jane Nash

Image by Ian Hunter

Jane Nash is an Internationally qualified NLP Master Practitioner/Trainer and Clinical and Forensic Investigative Hypnotherapist/Trainer who moves and works between various locations within Australia and the UK. She is also an accomplished teacher and author and harbours a vast number of other talents and interests. She combines her training, life experience and insightful (and often playful) perspective into all of her work and into her connection with the people she works with. I’m very pleased that she took the time to answer some questions about an area of therapy that I have never really explored before.

Upasana: How did you happen upon hypnosis?

Jane: I knew about hypnosis as a party trick if you like, but I hadn’t really considered it in a serious way until I saw people experiencing trance as part of a therapy session on a TV program.

Upasana:  Did you have your own misconceptions about hypnosis?

Jane: I’m very aware of mind control from having had very dysfunctional relationships in my own life. Also, when I worked in schools I saw how possible it was to persuade and influence. I knew a fair bit about how advertising and subliminal messaging worked but I had no idea how hypnosis could be used in a therapeutic sense.

Upasana: What work did you do before pursuing hypnosis and NLP?

Jane: I was a teacher and a lecturer. I have worked in all sectors – primary, secondary and tertiary. I ended up teaching teachers how to teach. I have always written poetry and short stories but the money-work was in education. I did work for a short while as an academic therapist – I was the teacher of last option for kids who were school refusers, many of them either autistic, or with learning impairments such as ADHD or dyspraxia.  Now that I know more about it, I can see that I was using NLP and hypnosis then but I didn’t know enough to see how it was working.

Upasana: How did you know that you wanted to pursue this work in your own career? What attracted you to it?

Jane: One summer, as I spiraled into depression: over 100 kgs, drinking, smoking, self medicating, sinking in a history of years of unhappiness and internal unquiet, I saw a program that changed my life. Now, I had known something of Neuro Linguistic Programming in its early stages and had read some papers on it years before when I was a young teacher, but one night, from the bottom of a bottle of port and after a whole packet of cigarettes, I saw a program called ‘I can change your life‘ featuring Paul McKenna. He was known as a hypnotist and used to be considered a bit of a joke, but here he was changing people’s perceptions of themselves within hours. He was releasing phobias and helping people see strategies for an improved life.

I was in such emotional pain – and just getting worse. I had an amazing chap in my life and I thought to myself: ‘if I don’t fix me, I will not only destroy myself, but I will destroy this relationship too’, and for the first time in my life I wanted something different. I learned the skills that I had seen on that tv program and got some NLP and Trance guidance to facilitate my own work on myself – and I got better quickly. I really did let go of so many awful things that I had been carrying around.  And as soon as I had a handle on myself, a light-bulb went on in my head and I wanted to help others reach their potential and be brave enough to move forward as fast as I had. I got better, I started retraining and I never looked back. And by the way, that ‘chap’ and I are now married and he’s an amazing man and I feel loved, valued and at liberty to be myself.

I do my best to walk the walk – not just talk the talk. I went from size 20/22 to size 8/10, I have become a vegan and a committed fitness enthusiast, I have used my own techniques to give up drinking, binge eating and smoking. Life is just too bloody gorgeous to damage myself any more – and that’s part of what i want to demonstrate to my clients .

Upasana: How does hypnosis work on the mind and body?

Jane: It works by getting message-units to bi-pass the critical/analytical part of the brain and finally nestle into the subconscious. I can’t make you do something you don’t want to do but hypnosis can enhance desires.

Upasana: What kinds of desires?

Jane: The desire to be able to sleep with a spider in the room, fly in an aeroplane, reach orgasm, lose weight, give up smoking and so on. If the brain controls it, hypnosis can affect it. There are lots of really groovy studies about the psychobiology of Hypnosis and Trance and we can now prove how Trance affects the limbic system, the nervous system, the digestive system – it’s just amazing.  Once we have this kind of control, we can be more responsible for our own holistic health. I’m all about educating my clients about how they can take control using these skills.

Upasana: Is there a theory of mind that hypnosis is guided by?

Jane: I am an Emotional & Physical Behaviourist. Which means I believe in the theories of John Kappas. So I am a ‘Kappasinian Hypnotist’.  Although I have trained with different organisations, the primary and best hypnosis education I have received is through the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in Tarzana, USA.  There they teach the ‘Theory of Mind’. I generally teach my clients this theory in a condensed version before I hypnotise them. I am also proficient in Eriksonian and Elman hypnosis but those styles are not suitable for everyone all the time.

Kappasinian Hypnosis and its ‘theory of mind’ is a great way to make sure that no matter how deep or light the trance, the hypnotist talks to the 88% of the brain that is subconscious. (For more information on this, watch a video made by one of the college lecturers here)

Upasana: What is the process of hypnosis like for the client?

Jane: The feeling is different for everyone – but it’s not like meditation in which you quieten the inner voices. In hypnosis it’s like an overload of information that forces a trance state.  Their eyelids flicker a bit like they are in REM but they can hear everything. Ultimately it’s very relaxing and you’re quite safe, you can’t spill all your secrets for example – unless you want to! It’s fun and not spooky – but I will leave the description for each individual to experience.

Upasana: What issues do clients bring into your sessions?

Jane: That’s a great question but I don’t have enough space here to answer it! After all these years it would be difficult to list every ailment or issue I have dealt with. Weight loss and smoking are popular, but so are sleep issues, fears and phobias (they are really different by the way). I have done a lot of work, in tandem with other therapists, with war veterans  suffering from post traumatic stress. I have helped many people to get over abuse, let go of the past, build confidence… My favourite has to be encopresis and enuresis: helping kids to stop pooping and peeing at the wrong time is amazingly satisfying. It’s great when kids learn that they have control in their own lives. I do a lot of work with generalized anxiety and I have a great 10 week program for people diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (using NLP not hypnosis) they need longer because they like to repeat things!  Recently I trained a consultant anesthetist in hypnosis not only to train his own brain but also to use with his patients so that they need less medication…

Upasana: I have heard that hypnosis can be of benefit to control addictive behaviours and tendencies. What have you learnt about addiction through this work? Will we always replace one addiction with another?

Jane: There are so many different ideas and therapies for addiction – how to manage addictions depends largely on the value set of the client.  If the client believes that they can get rid of it and be free of it – then it’s possible.  If a client believes that they will be addicted to something regardless of what it is – then I work with them to create a behavior that replaces the problem. To be addicted to healthy food, yoga and a balance in life is a possible scenario. It begins with how the clients see themselves. It also depends upon the addiction.

No Hypnotherapist or NLP Master Practitioner should work with an addict without being part of a larger support network. I always tell my clients that I need them to be part of a support group like AA or NA and to liaise with some form of medical support such as a gp before beginning hypnosis. Addiction is often linked to other problems – and going cold- turkey, for everything except cigarettes and sugar, can be really damaging and in some cases fatal. Hypnosis and NLP are a great key to aid concentration and self control and can be very useful in detox. They work well in assisting people to get through and out of the addictive patterns.

Upasana: Has your way of working evolved through time and experience?

Jane: Of course it has. I have gone from a very awkward and formulaic (but still effective) approach, to more subtle approaches and I’m better at it – I can hypnotize now without words. I’m a bit sneaky. My NLP has morphed into the Design Human Engineering Branch of neuro-persuasion and I am steeped in Logo-therapeutic concepts that help me bring  a sense of purpose to my work.  Perhaps I end up being more of an existential therapist at the end of the day – but it’s worth it – I’m here to aid passage for whomsoever asks.

Upasana: What strengths do you bring to this work?

Jane: I’m a bit obsessive myself, so when I start something I like to finish it. So there aren’t many stones left unturned. I guess the old protestant work ethic doesn’t do me any harm either – I’ll always go the extra mile. And I’m not afraid to find the best person to train me. I have travelled all over the world to train: the USA, to the UK and here in Australia.  I believe everyone has the ability to change and I will always do my best.

Upasana: Why are you suited to this work?

Jane: I see myself as an educator and a story teller – and both skills are essential not only to do this type of work but to help my clients acquire the skills they need to realize their own strengths and capabilities.

Upasana: Has this role changed how you are in other areas of your life?

Jane: Yes, I think so – partially because it led me to study micro expressions, more of the forensic side of the brain.  I’m interested in the study of deception. I feel like a bullshit meter and I am calibrating everyone I meet for truth or deception – self deception mainly. My friendship groups have changed as I have become more proficient in NLP. As the changes in my own perception have become more radical, the way I deal with everyone else has changed. I’m also much more confident and as I’m no longer playing the victim card – those rescuers and oppressors that were part of my circle, no longer have any impact on my life.

Upasana: What has been the greatest joy of this work for you?

Jane: Of course it’s great to see old clients who have permanently changed their lives for the better. However, I live much more in the present to be honest with you.  Every time the light- bulb goes on in the eyes of a client and they get that ‘aha!’ moment – that’s a good moment for me.

Upasana: Has this work opened up new doors for you?

Jane: My writing is better and I’ve been published more (in both fiction and in the self help area) since my language skills changed. That’s a bonus. I was really keen to study psychology but I don’t fancy going back to university to start again from the beginning so I’m working my way through university book lists right now. I’m fascinated by Paul Ekman’s work as well as neurology and forensic psychology so if anything, the doors are in personal learning.

I’m nearly 44, I’m always excited with what life brings. Do I see new doors opening? Every day.  Luckily I’ve also got a huge bunch of keys so I’m busy working through those too!

self portrait by Jane Nash

self portrait by Jane Nash

Find out more about Jane’s work here.

Self Disclosure

Image: spookyisles.com

I have consulted counsellors at different stages of my adult life and one or two in my school years. I consider myself quite an empowered client and I think I am probably a little challenging to work with. My own work as a client has given me rise to ponder the role of self-disclosure in sessions.

Self Disclosure is when the counsellor raises their own opinions or even examples from their own experiences as part of the therapeutic intervention.

In my own training as a psychologist I was taught not to disclose, or if I do, to keep it brief and to minimise my emotional attachment to my own perspective. The idea is that the counsellor, in this model of counselling, is a blank canvas and the client is free to splash their colours and create their own images to ponder and reflect on without the intervention and judgements of another person. We keep our agendas out of the session, or at least try not to diminish the client’s right to determine their own opinions, perspectives, values.

So many clients come to counselling in the first place because they have been trying so hard to fulfil the expectations of parents, teachers, bosses, peers, partners …. the last thing they need is a new domineering presence taking them further from their own highest truths.

It is generally agreed that counsellors are an authoritative figure; that in sessions there is the potential of exercising influence and power. Keeping self disclosure to a minimum is a way of acknowledging the potential harm that that power can create and to offer an environment that is reasonably free of external expectations.

As a counsellor I know that I like to create a situation in which my client does not have to attend to my needs. I am not their friend or their work mate, their sister, lover or their child; they needn’t consider my feelings before attending to their own. They needn’t feel selfish if the conversation and focus is on them for a full 40-60 minutes per session. Counselling is not a round table discussion – it is THEIR space and THEIR time. That alone is a balm that heals. To be listened to and interrupted only by a new question or insight which opens another opportunity to explore a new thought or feeling is liberating.

For this to be an effective part of the counselling process, the client does need to know that it is true. They need to know that the counsellor is ok and looking after themselves; isn’t secretly taking on their trauma or hurt. This is again why counsellors’ self care is so important. It is important to the client to know that they are doing no harm in the process of seeking help.

I recently sought counselling for a problem I was dealing with and during the second session my therapist told me about her personal experience of the issue I was discussing with her. She seemed to feel that her experience and mine were similar and that I would learn from hearing what she had to say. It didn’t. I could actually feel myself taking in a breath and preparing myself to attend to her and her story. I felt that my time to explore was over and that someone had just told me what they thought the outcome of my own, precious story would be.

On another occasion, with another therapist, I was receiving some supervision. We had been discussing my career path and exploring possible options for the future. She made it clear, or I felt she made it clear, that I needed to leave my job and pursue another one elsewhere. On this occasion I ‘knew’ she was right but was not ready to take that enormous step. I felt so keenly that I was letting her down and felt that I was not accomplishing the task she was presenting me. I did not return to sessions and felt I had let her down.

But the third instance makes me laugh. I have a new supervisor. I took a long time to make my decision about who I wanted to work with. And in the first meeting we discussed our expectations for the sessions. I told him about the instances of self-disclosure which had upset and silenced me so much. I have now spoken to him for about three sessions and I feel so frustrated. I so want to hear what he has to say about my work and life and where I should go from here! I have come to respect him so much that I would love to hear some words of wisdom from him rather than my own opinions on my life. But true to form and true to my request – he is keeping my life well and truly in my hands.

A very funny dilemma for me to ponder and to perhaps share with him in the next session.

In truth, I am not a blank canvas and my attempts to be so often fall short. Denying my own humanity and my own presence in the counselling room are probably not conducive to true healing. I am beginning to learn this. I would love to hear any feedback or insights on this – so please feel free to comment…

Yours, from the other side of the couch,

Upasana

The resistance: An interview with Sally

Image: news.softpedia.com

Upasana: Sally, I know you as a counsellor and community worker, but today you have offered to reflect on your experience as a client.

There’s a perception that counsellors make the most difficult clients. Do you think that that is true? Did you feel a resistance to the process for that reason?

Sally: No I don’t think its true, I think it’s the opposite. I think it helped me. Counselling was my career choice, so it is only natural that I also see its utility in my personal life.  I’m naturally  drawn to (a therapeutic) way of thinking about myself and my relationships. I had resistance to the process as just a normal part of the process and the work. The resistance was the work for me for a period of time, a rich part of the work.

Upasana: How did you make the decision about which counsellor to consult?

Sally: I wanted to see someone who had done their own psychotherapy as part of their training, for me this is non negotiable. I had known my therapist from my early 20’s and had such a positive experience with her that I returned in my 30’s to go deeper.

I was drawn to Jungian therapy and her relational style of working. I was confident of her integrity and her ability to be conscious and working with her own process and to work with the transference.

Upasana: What did you like most about how your counsellor worked with you?

Sally: The description that most powerfully sits with me is one of a baby bird and the mother. When the baby is young it needs the mother to eat the food and digest it, then the mother feeds the baby the digested food. I believe that this is what children need with their emotional experiences. I did not have this as a child, no one was there to help me digest my experiences. My therapist was able to take my undigested and raw emotions/feelings and to digest them for me and give them back to me in this digested form. I could then integrate these digested experiences into my life

Upasana: Can you describe her way of working with you?

Sally: We worked a lot with what was happening in the room between us, ie feelings that came up towards her, my reactions and responses to what she did and said. This was like a microcosm of my relationships in the outside world as well as a re enactment of what had happened in my primary relationships. Our relationship was the work and the canvas. She worked with the counter-transference and transference that came up in the room and would name what came up in a way that would make use of this raw material.

Upasana: What are the things you have learnt most from being in therapy?

Sally: I learnt to put words to my feelings and bodily experiences. I learnt a language in which to speak and relate to myself and another person.  I learnt to trust processes and to love them. I learnt to feel much more safe inside of me. I developed a compassionate observers position in my mind. I learnt how patterns of relating run through families. I learnt how these were set up in my family or origin. I learnt to trust myself and my feelings and intuitions much more. I learnt what it feels like to be held with love, respect and compassion. I learnt what it feels like to be heard deeply. I learnt that Im not bad. I learnt that things are personal and they are not personal. I could just go on and on.

Upasana: How would you describe your relationship with your counsellor?

Sally: I feel so much gratitude towards her. I’ve not seen her for many years, but we still have some contact via email. I am eternally grateful for all that she offered to me, the safe container.

Upasana: Do you think that therapy creates a dependency on therapy?

Sally: I think this is an interesting question. I think it is a fear that people have of their own vulnerability and shame of their child needs, including dependancy. When I hear people say this it feels like it is said in a way that dependancy is a bad thing, something you don’t want. Was I dependant on my therapist? I hope that I was for a time, yes I was, in the way that I could surrender to my own child needs of feeling vulnerable and being in contact with my feelings of dependancy. I was dependant on her to hold emotions that I was not able to hold for a period of time and then slowly I could take them and hold them myself. The period of dependancy was an important developmental task for me. I think the question to ask if one is looking for a therapist is whether the therapist is able to allow and tolerate that dependancy for the time it is needed and to see it as part of a process and that they have a healthy relationship with their own and their clients dependancy. I think what would scare me more is being with a therapist that doesn’t see that dependancy exists for a period of time in the relationship. To have wisdom and be process orientated and to work with client to not shame them around their needs and to allow the client to grow up and to let go of this dependancy period.

Upasana: What other sources of healing have you found in life? What has been or have been the things that have led you to feeling at peace, joyful or in less pain?

Sally: Meditation, singing, breathing, energy work, yoga, writing, talking, drawing, art therapy, working with alternative healers and plant medicines.

Image: blog.nwf.org

Upasana: Again, I can’t thank you enough for helping me with this project.

The Imposter Syndrome

Image by: surefitslipcovers.blogspot.com

There is a syndrome called the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ or ‘Fraud Syndrome’ which is suffered by many a professional. It has been noted in the arts, in the legal profession, in the sciences, in the academic world, in the corporate environment and so on. First thought to be the domain of women or minority groups, there is now suggestion of the same phenomenon in the wider population.

It is characterised by the feeling that, although people appear to think you are doing well in your work and you may even be receiving rewards or recognition for what you are doing, deep down inside you “know” that you have no idea what you are doing, any success is a fluke and in any moment people will see you for what you really are and strip you of your professional registration, expose your ignorance and put you back in the employment you truly deserve (squeezing orange juice or something).

It is kind of a professional version of niggling low self esteem. It tends to come and go.

I have noticed it rearing its head on several occasions in my own work, and it is often a discourse I detect in my peers.

I remember my relief when I found a name for it somewhere. It helped me to identify my moments of vulnerability and to find my own way to deal with it.

Counselling, particularly in the humanistic traditions of therapy is a field which teaches therapists to encourage the self-determinism and the dignity of the clients we work with. Rather than presenting ourselves as the expert, we encourage and support clients to discover their own authority and to place credence on their own understanding of healing and engage their own natural manner of moving forward in their lives.

It has often been said that if we do our jobs right, any positive changes in the life of the client will be understood by them to be their own doing – not the counsellor’s.

I feel in synch with this understanding, but still every now and then I find myself raising the issue of validation in sessions with my supervisor. Where does the validation for my work best come from?

I work for an organisation, so often I will look to my work community for some kind of sign that I am doing well. Sometimes a client will express gratitude or even joy at having found a counsellor they feel compatible with. Sometimes I can kind of be gliding along, feeling balanced and in touch with what I am doing. At such times, the validation comes mostly from within myself. But on the days where the work is challenging for the client and therefore not inspiring any feedback; if the workplace does not value its counsellors; if just one more person says that “anyone could do that work”; if you are tired or stressed or not taking good care of yourself – then the feeling of being a fraud can sneak in again. Just to kick you when you’re down. I have noticed that when there are sudden changes in administrative requirements and I get knotted up in the confusion of keeping statistics in some new computer program, or meeting some health organisation requirements, feelings of incompetence sneak into other aspects of my work too.

There is always a way forward. In fact maybe this is just a negative spin on the more  positive zen buddhist notion of ‘beginners mind’. For me, if I find myself in the ‘fraudian’ state of mind, it is often nothing more than a sign that I am tired and in need of some good old fashioned self care. I have my ways to get back to the gliding feeling.

What is your way I wonder?

Stepping out of autopilot. An interview with Tim.

Image chosen by Tim.

Upasana:  You have been participating in tantra group work for the past year in both sydney and brisbane. What is it that drew you to working with Martina Hughes and her ‘Tantric Blossoming’ workshops?

Tim: I had heard about Martina’s work through friends and was intrigued, I had been interested in tantra for a while.  I attended a mens retreat in March this year held in Sydney, that was co-facilitated by Martina and David Anderson. It was such a great weekend and opened my eyes to a different way of being & living, a much more beautiful way of relating to people, and a way of generating more energy & vitality, this experience touched me deeply and ignited a spark inside that has been smouldering ever since.

Upasana: As you have attended more groups, has your understanding of what motivates you changed?

Tim: Yes,  have much more understanding about my patterns of behaviour, and what triggers them, just becoming more conscious of this instead of just running on autopilot allows me to make more sense of things and take some action around making some changes.

Upasana:  What misconceptions did you walk into tantra with? and in what ways has your understanding deepened?

Tim: I guess I was a little nervous about attending a retreat or group as I wasn’t sure what was involved, whether or not I would fit in, and what sort of people would be involved, how sexual it would be, in all I found it a very heart opening experience, a little confronting at times but I guess from my past beliefs had limited views about expressing my sexuality or feeling comfortable with that, to be around open, heart centred people in a safe nurturing environment is extremely liberating to the soul, the deeper I go into tantra the more I get an  understanding of how beneficial it is to all areas of my life.

Upasana:  Is tantra just about sex, or does it extend to other parts of human experience?

Tim: Tantra is not just about sex, or sexuality, it’s a way of living, a different way of relating to this world of ours, an exploration of getting to know your body from the inside, feeling into yourself and becoming more conscious around your body and pleasure, exploring masculine & feminine dynamics, and importantly for me about our relationship with ourselves.

Upasana: Is sex ‘just sex’? or is it something more?

Tim: For me sex was  never just sex, there were so many different dynamics involved , depending on my partner, mood at the time, how I was feeling about myself, I was always so in my head, through tantra I’ve learned to relax into my body more, to go with the flow, to be more present, to breathe into the moment and connect more with my partner, and I believe sex can become so much more, a melting into each other, a timeless experience, not so much doing sex or having sex, but being sex, if that makes any sense.

Upasana: Why is this work so important to you? You have shown such commitment…

Tim: I feel so drawn to it now I understand more about Tantra, it is helping me in so many areas of my life.

Upasana: How do you feel you have you grown through this process?

Tim: One area of my life I struggled with was relating to other people, I have been a shy person for most of my life, I have gained an understanding of how my relationship with myself has  been affecting this, for if we do not love ourselves fully and be comfortable with who we are it affects all areas of our life, through this work I am learning to show more vulnerability, to take off my mask and let people see who I really am, stop trying to be how I perceive other people want me to be. The breath work practice has been a real eye opener, I’m constantly amazed at how correct breathing and feeling into my body can free up so much energy and help to relax more and free up emotions to come into consciousness.

Upasana:  Have you attended other groups or trainings of other kinds in the past?

Tim: I have attended meditation groups.

Upasana: What does working in a group context do that can’t occur elsewhere?

Tim: I think working in a group has many benefits, you get to know that other people have the same concerns and worries about life that you do, and helps you to feel more involved and less isolated, to be in a group environment where there is a high level of trust, intimacy, love and acceptance is a very opening experience, why I have been drawn to Martina’s groups in particular is I feel she has a unique skill in creating this environment or group space, it is so much easier to open up, to show people more of yourself, to release past conditionings and unhelpful beliefs, a very life expanding, cathartic  & beautiful experience.

Tim

A poem by Hafiz

Image: vagablogging,net

I’ve been reflecting on gender and counselling. I checked some statistics from various countries this morning to see what percentage of men access counselling or therapeutic services. They are in the minority. I also had a look at the stats about how many women train in this field and how many men.

Psychology was once a male dominated field, today it is female dominated.

I’m not certain whether men are frustrated by the lack of male therapists. sometimes I fear that they are. I suspect that my concern about that issue is brought into my sessions with me and that I may become overly sensitive and a little more tentative in my approach.

I wonder also if there is such a thing as a feminisation of the psyche? If the story about what it is to be human and what it is to be well are being ‘written’ by women does this create an unbalanced reality?

Perhaps things are as they should be. Perhaps everything is in balance. There certainly is some suggestion that men are finding their way to ask for help when they need it.

I know that the thought of what it is to be a woman counselling a man is one that I ponder quite a bit. I have had to confront many assumptions and navigate my own projections. I have had to continue to be guided by the person sitting with me. Again the feeling that I am the student and the client is the teacher.

I wonder what you think about this?

I was glad to remember this hafiz poem. Perhaps this notion of gender guides my thinking too much.

How Does It Feel to Be a Heart?

A poem by

Hafiz

 Once a young woman asked me,

“How does it feel to be a man?”

And I replied,

“My dear,
I am not so sure.”

Then she said,
“Well, aren’t you a man?”

And this time I replied,

“I view gender
As a beautiful animal
That people often take for a walk on a leash
And might enter in some odd contest
To try to win strange prizes.

My dear,
A better question for Hafiz
Would have been,

‘How does it feel to be a heart?’

For all I know is Love,
And I find my heart infinite
And everywhere!”

Finding my voice: An Interview with Lianna.

Image: arttherapyblog.com

Upasana: Have you ever sought support from a counsellor or therapist?

Lianna: Yes.

Upasana: What issues were you facing at that time?

Lianna: Poor self image which was reflected in many areas of my life and poisoned my thoughts. I thought it may have a lot to do with being abused as a child – sexually, physically and psychologically.

Upasana: Were your experiences of therapy positive or less than positive?

Lianna: Actually, most of my experiences have been less than positive.

Upasana: How have you found counselling to be helpful or supportive for you?

Lianna: The Counsellors I have found helpful and supportive have been very few. A couple of years ago I came across one who was only available for a very limited time. She was the first Counsellor who pointed out to me that I was laughing about something that was very serious. I was laughing out of discomfort, to make myself feel better by attempting to trivialise my problems and to ease the discomfort (in my mind) of the Counsellor. She saw all that and I was surprised because I didn’t realise I was doing it. She also understood how my cultural background had impacted on my life.
Recently, I have been accessing Counsellors who are also very professional, very astute and incisive and who are helping me to develop the courage to understand who I am.

Upasana: What sort of approach did your therapist use in counselling?

Lianna: It’s hard for me to identify… The first counsellor I referred to above helped me to find the voice to articulate my feelings and made me feel respected and valued. She also used art therapy which, surprisingly for me, clearly showed some aspects of my thinking.
The Counsellors I am accessing at the moment: I’m not sure what the term is but they tend to use visuals, eg, a whiteboard to illustrate a scenario so that I can see connections and patterns in a particular area of my life. This method also helps me to remember what we’ve spoken about.

Upasana: In what way have you found counselling to be less than helpful for you?

Lianna: Because of my own discomfort and because I was trying to protect the Counsellors from feeling uncomfortable, I made light of my problems, laughing at my own situation and the Counsellors were happy to jolly me along and laugh with me which resulted in the session turning into a friendly chat. This is not to say that I don’t see value in laughing at myself and at the misfortunes in life. The other unhelpful aspect was the Counsellor giving me the impression that everything I did was right therefore not giving me room for reflection or for taking any responsibility for things that were going wrong in my life.

Upasana: Do you think you would ever re- engage in counselling after your experiences?

Lianna: Yes but I would very quickly assess whether the Counsellor was going to be helpful or not. I think I have wasted a lot of time having a nice chat with Counsellors probably trying to impress upon them what a nice person I am.

Upasana: What would you look for in a counsellor next time?

Lianna: I would look for someone who thought deeply about the human condition, ie, someone who was well trained and professional in their approach and prompted me to think, not someone who agreed with me all the time.

Upasana: What other ways have you found in your life to find healing, support and peace?

Lianna: I have done a lot of yoga at different times, tried to do meditation, attended seminars and talks on various topics and have enjoyed the company and wisdom of various friends.

Image: liveyoga.nl