As you know, we are primarily a counselling agency and one reward for the unpaid counsellor is simply satisfaction. Satisfaction to see a Client work through their presenting problem and come through stronger and more able to face further struggles, better equipped than when they first came to the Mill for help. Most of our Clients manage to get through the process so we have a very high success rate.
Of course it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes a Client just seems to go round and round in mental circles, going over and over the same emotional ground despite the best efforts and challenges the Counsellor presents. Occasionally, discovered too late, you find the Client is a professional ‘victim’ going from Counsellor to Counsellor ‘proving’ that counselling doesn’t work, or they believe they are in a situation that is beyond any Counsellor’s ability to help. In the latter situation, in their eyes, they gain status for their problem is so big – that or the Counsellor is no good.
One ploy that is used by many Clients is the ‘Yes – But’ game. “I can, but….”, “Yes of course, but…”. It is a lovely card for them to play for it lets them off the hook and they do not have to accept any responsibility for their actions or lack of them. ‘It is somebody else’s fault’. ‘It is just the way things are’. They cannot see their own thought processes despite the reflections and challenges by way of the Counsellor. There is no progress, resolution or growth of any kind. It becomes an emotional trap that blocks all possible maturation. It is satisfying for them in the short term but stultifying in the long term. Thankfully most Clients work through this.
Unfortunately I see the same kind of thinking in religious groups of every kind. Not an emotional rut this time but a spiritual one, as people do not dare to think for themselves but hide behind other people’s ideas or behind some kind of image of the Divine that does all the thinking for them. You can just imagine them, metaphorically speaking, talking to Saint Peter when they finally approach the pearly gates saying, “It’s not my fault. Yes I understand I didn’t do whatever, or didn’t face that problem, but…..”. Not only is that answer lazy but it is deceitful and ultimately damaging to their own soul’s progress. There is no chance of spirituality shining through there.
Growth of any kind, especially spiritual growth, needs challenge, problems to work through and even pain and suffering to conquer. It’s not a matter simply of saying ‘Smile God loves you’ but more like accepting being the vine as it is pruned (John’s Gospel) or as gold being refined in the fire (Psalms). That is a most uncomfortable truth but it remains a fact of life and is part of the teachings ascribed to Jesus by Saint John about spiritual growth.
Who would be a Counsellor or Priest?
Have a great Month and Equinox.