When people seek counselling they are often experiencing a mismatch between the demands of their situation and their ability to cope with life’s challenges. Before a person can adopt enhanced coping strategies they need to first be understood and validated from within their own frame of reference. My goal as a counsellor is to respond to a client and the challenge they are facing on the basis of their own understanding and the context of the situation (family, school, etc.) and work together to create positive change.
It is often not change itself that is intimidating for people but rather the prospect of being left exposed without one’s protective defenses – even though they may be faulty or maladaptive. This is one reason people often remain locked within their present view of their situation and continue to react in the same ways – even though it might not be working. By supporting and building the client’s readiness to change and providing new skills and coping strategies, the counselling process helps a person venture out from their habitual and protective ways of thinking about and doing things.
In counselling this process is achieved primarily through attuned engagement between counsellor and client. In the context of such a relationship, I use a range of therapeutic modalities in my work with children, adolescents and young adults including discussion, role-playing, humour, music, art, and play. Young people often have limitations with regard to their objectivity and perspective taking abilities because of their developmental stage – their brain’s are just not mature yet! So it is often helpful to use a variety of other means through which to process material that is generated in counselling. With a background as a music therapist my guitar is close at hand and lyric writing or jamming on a blues theme often proves to be not only a surprisingly powerful expressive outlet, but also a useful perspective building tool for clients.
My counselling work is informed by a Constructive–Developmental theoretical model. The goal is to facilitate the gradual movement from the client feeling buffeted by their problems, towards having a sense of objectivity with regard to their problems and therefore having options, skills, and strategies to help them function more optimally. As part of my developmental orientation I am well versed in Attachment Theory and attend carefully to the influence of these dynamics with my clients. On a technical level there are strategies from CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), Internal Family Systems (sub-personality work), CPS (collaborative problem-solving) and mindfulness practices embedded in my work.