Some forecast doom and gloom. We are living in difficult times. Human suffering and social injustice are experienced on a global level. As therapists we see these difficulties in our clients. Poverty, abuse, social difficulties for example, enough to make anyone angry in a healthy way.
In therapy the individual is understood in relation to their society. A social conscience begins with social awareness. Therapists therefore have the insight to contribute towards social policy in a wider arena.
. Real power for change lies in the medium term with the government to influence the creation of jobs, the spread of wealth, large companies and to alter global obstacles
Through the process of counselling clients have the opportunity to find some personal empowerment for themselves. Yet, on returning to their world, which, they may be powerless to change, may only have learned how to cope better. If we consider therapy to have the power to make an individual conform to socially acceptable behaviour or we send people to therapy as a form of punishment to learn how to regulate their behaviour then therapy must simply be serving as a sticking plaster against a world of socially and economically constructed difficulties.
'Much human suffering comes from social power. So individualist therapy is merely a drop in the ocean in alleviating the wider sources of human distress'
Often there is an idea that the person is ill if they have to resort to counselling or therapy. The person may feel a sense of shame or embarrassment in attending sessions. This thinking does not support the value of personal development being a natural and worthy occupation in life for any of us. Again this idea of therapy is solely reinforcing a model of illness. Much human suffering comes from social power. So individualist therapy is merely a drop in the ocean in alleviating the wider sources of human distress. Government encouraged therapeutic self-help programmes deal ineffectively in stemming the tide of government encouraged consumer or reductionist issues. However we are as individuals, we usually reflect our social conditions. For example, the troubles of heart disease or obesity stem from our health policies, economic programmes and political decisions. Let us make our own respectful meanings about our lives rather than letting societal views dictate meaning to us. We might just have enough freedom to create our own lifestyles, identities and beliefs and to begin to help towards a better global society.
Annie Fallaize is a Counsellor in private practice in Leeds where she runs Opportunity 4 Counselling. Annie is passionate about the Person-Centred approach as "it can be applied in many walks of life" and is additionally qualified as a Practitioner in Neurolinguistic Programming (N.L.P.) With a background in Education; working with children of all ages and adults as Counselling Tutor for a local charity she enjoys helping to remove barriers to learning. Find Annie via her website or on Twitter