An introduction by Anne-Marie 9 July 2022
Welcome to the Seen Felt Heard Counselling blog. This is a space where I share ideas and practices that I find inspiring and which help you to heal. When I called my counselling practice - Seen Felt Heard Counselling, it was because I know that being seen, felt and heard are the fundamental aspects of what needs to be present in the counselling relationship in order to facilitate healing.
I first came across the idea of what it means to be seen, felt and heard when I was reading Dr Dan Siegel's work on parenting and what a child needs for healthy development and I also believe that these qualities are an essential part of any counselling relationship.
The quality of the therapeutic relationship is something that we can miss talking about when we are focused on solutions for symptoms and diagnoses. Claims for treatment of depression and anxiety are important but if you don't like or connect with the counsellor or therapist, these treatments are unlikely to be helpful.
During some training with Dr Karen Treisman a few years ago she continually stated that "relational trauma requires relational repair". This phrase refers specifically to childhood trauma and the impact of having either neglectful or abusive caregivers but it also speaks to the importance of the therapeutic relationship in helping to rebuild a person's sense of trust and safety. This phrase has always stood out for me and guided my therapeutic work ever since.
So how does one offer "relational repair"? For me a focus on being relational i.e. using the counselling relationship for relational repair and healing starts with warmth and curiosity but it is also about being accountable and transparent. This means I don't just assume anything and I check in regularly to understand how is this counselling going for you? Is this what you want to be talking about? How can you let me know if you don't want to talk about it?
Narrative Therapy taught be about accountability and what it means to let the client led. But I was also shocked to come across research that stated that clients quite often felt that the counsellor had their own agenda and was not listening to them and had taken them off on a tangent that was not what they were in counselling for. This is consistent with what I hear sometimes when I meet clients for the first time and ask them about previous experiences of counselling. In the light of such revelations, asking how it's going for the client becomes really important.
What does being seen, felt and heard mean to you? Is this an experience you expect from counselling? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.