In yesterday’s article I promised to return today to outline an approach to counselling based on my own experience. You will find this detailed below. I did say that bringing philosophy and theology into the counselling environment is something that could be hugely beneficial for people who are struggling, but this is not expressly mentioned in today’s post, which is more about emotional healing. I will perhaps write more about how philosophy and theology could benefit counselling clients in a future post.
I hope that you will read the article below in its entirety and respond with any comments that you feel are relevant. Thank you for your time and God bless you.
A key way in which suffering human beings are able to heal is by learning to freely express whatever is going on in their minds and bodies. An important part of what makes a mature and effective counsellor, therefore, is the ability to allow all of a client’s thoughts and emotions to be expressed without resistance. The expression of these thoughts and feelings is something counselling clients often find to be liberating and healing.
Emotional expression need never involve violence or argument, because even deeply felt anger can be expressed in gentle, non-violent ways within the therapeutic environment. Fear of confrontation is a major cause of suffering, and for someone to learn that they can both heal and move forward in life without encountering physical violence is one of the desired outcomes of the psychological therapy we offer.
There are often times when human beings retreat within themselves emotionally, which can be a defence mechanism when a person is faced with aggression or violence. Putting up an emotional barrier — like a forcefield — is a response which can keep a person safe and deter aggressors. Holding onto these “barrier emotions” should only ever be temporary, but they can become ingrained or “stuck” in a person’s body — sometimes for many years. The counselling process allows such harboured feelings to be expressed and released, restoring the body to its natural state of openness and flow, where awareness is more expansive and where a person will identify primarily with their awareness rather than primarily with their body.
There are often thoughts associated with repressed emotions. Some people hold onto these thoughts and don’t share them because they are frightened that they won’t be met with understanding. This is often because they have lived in an oppressive, perhaps abusive situation for some time, and they have not been able to find the help they need in their immediate relationship network. The process of counselling can provide a safe space for these thoughts and their associated emotions to be expressed and released.
The counselling process, in part, is a process of allowance. Counselling provides a space in which a client with repressed emotion can engage with a counsellor who is emotionally mature and free, and the freedom of the counsellor provides a mirror to the client which allows them to feel safe and able to express their thoughts and feelings and become free themselves.
Having emotions trapped in our bodies can be very uncomfortable and is a major cause of suffering. While it can be a quite natural part of childhood development for a while, as parents employ discipline in order to give their children boundaries and keep them safe, an important part of growing up and becoming a well-equipped adult is learning to understand and express that which was forced upon us and repressed in our bodies during childhood.
Certain repressed emotions can and often do stay in a person’s body for a lifetime. Certain emotional states are often passed on in a family from parent to child, to grandchild, and so on. We can become so attached to a certain emotional mode that we bitterly resist any challenge to it, and this is why the generational transferring of these repressed emotions often takes place, without anyone feeling able or willing to get help.
It is only in the therapeutic environment, where a counsellor is strong enough to provide a challenge (in a sensitive way) to the ingrained emotional states of a client, that their feelings can be expressed and understood, allowing healing and transformation to take place.
It seems to be the case that holding onto repressed emotions does not damage the body, though the very experience of holding repressed emotions is inhibiting and a form of suffering. It is quite possible for a client to live with a certain repressed emotion for many years, to the extent that, although they will express frustration about their state of being in certain ways, in other ways they may have learned to live with it. A counsellor can play an important role in showing such clients that they can heal in ways they perhaps hadn’t imagined.
Many people embark upon a spiritual journey in order to find a way to ease the suffering caused by their repressed emotions. Often, the motivation for seeking out spiritual gurus and teachers is the desire to experience peace of mind, though this may not necessarily be immediately obvious to a client. Certainly, the search for self-realisation or enlightenment can be an attempt to escape from complex interpersonal problems and distressing psychological states that a client is experiencing. Through the counselling process, a client’s yearning for ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’ may lessen and eventually disappear, as they find ways to better handle their thoughts and feelings and cope with life’s challenges.
A client may find that after crying to release some emotion they feel a sense of relief and freedom. However, once they leave the therapeutic environment and return to everyday life, they may immediately encounter people and situations which cause them to retreat emotionally and reabsorb the feelings that they had expressed and released in the session with their counsellor. A key part of the role of the counsellor, therefore, is to build emotional resilience in their client. This can be done via the use of grounding exercises and meditation practises, as well as autogenic training and other techniques. It is also essential for sessions to be regular and over a sustained period of time in order for this kind of healing to take place.
There are two primary ways for emotional distress to be healed. The first is what I call “energetic accordance”, which is where some repressed emotion dissipates due to understanding and connection with another individual, or connection with a piece of music or other art, or with God. The second way is through crying, which is another type of connection with either another human being, a piece of creative work, or God. Both energetic accordance and crying can be deeply freeing and healing.
The ultimate aim of counselling is to enable a client to be free from repressed emotions and feel confident and happy about who they are, so that they can move forward with life experiencing as little distress as possible. A client’s happiness can be attained when through the counselling process they learn that it’s okay to express every thought and emotion that they are experiencing freely and in a conversational way.
With their counsellor having been a mirror to the client which allowed them to express and heal, the client then becomes a mirror to the people in their social network allowing their relationships to improve and the healing of others to take place via a knock-on effect. This is beneficial to society in many ways, including the reduction of violence and crime, and less suffering and fewer mental health and relationship problems in the adult population.
There is a state of being, accessible to all of us, where we can feel completely happy with who we are, and able to express the complete range of human emotions with confidence. In this state of being, each person can express their unique personality freely and without inhibition. When this state of being is attained, we can safely say a person is healed.
Life will never be without its challenges, because God employs challenges as part of the role He has given human beings in the grand scheme of things. But we feel it is part of God’s plan for people who have suffered to find healing in a therapeutic setting, and that is the reason why Tealight Counselling has been established.
 It could be that there is a link between repressed emotion and diseases like cancer, though more work is needed to ascertain whether this is the case.
It’s important to mention that the approach I have outlined above is not all-encompassing, and other methods that facilitate personal growth and healing would also be a part of the counselling service I hope to set up in the future. The above article is based on personal experience, but the experience of everyone who has benefited from therapy is unique, and everyone is different, so this should be acknowledged, and we should all keep an open mind. Again, please feel free to comment with any thoughts or feedback.