Fifteen years working as a counsellor takes its toll, don’t you think? Years of sitting one to one with many clients, keeping one foot in your own world and placing one in theirs. Hours of sitting with people of all ages and stages as they take a leap of faith and break the silence; hours of privilege and hours of pain.
Having trained as a Person Centred Counsellor 15 years previously my method and style of counselling has changed as I have. I have even dared to call myself a ‘therapist’ to show that I have earned my stripes. I have trained in many areas, even reluctantly training as a supervisor (at other’s requests and suggestion) preferring to work with the clients themselves.
How would I describe my counselling style now? My belief is that the strength and the resolve of the therapist is paramount to enable the provision of a safe base for those most vulnerable. I tell my clients that I work as myself; ‘Susie style’ and I hope that they will eventually be themselves. I tell them I have worked in many ways and have many hours of training, and that I work creatively and also, that I am no longer un-shockable. I used to say that I was, I tell them, but now I am indeed shocked sometimes by what I hear. However, I will provide a safe pair of ‘metaphorical’ arms to hold them in.
So, there is my setting for a safe therapeutic alliance as we all like to call it. But how congruent should we be, may we be?
I was taught that we should not disclose anything about ourselves, and for years I did exactly that, but at what cost? What was the price for the client who needed a human face, a touch of humanity, the congruence of another? Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favour of counsellors spilling their all and taking over sessions, but I am also not I favour of us with-holding ourselves when a thoughtful congruent word can bring hope to another. What do we do, what do you do, when your journey may encourage another to battle on through? What do we do when a struggling over-worked mother asks if we have children? I know what I do?
We are taught to leave our personal lives outside the therapy room; and I believe that is what we must do on most occasions. But what happens when our lives become public property? What happens when our story is up for grabs?
My story became part of the public arena when topless pictures were found on the internet from my former life. It became even more available to all as I wrote my auto- biography in response to these images and spoke of my journey from model to heroin addict, to healed Christian. It became even more available as article appeared in local papers and radio shows interviewed me. As I nailed my colours to the mast of the No More Page 3 campaigns.
Did the above revelations have a derogatory effect on my clients or bring into my therapy room the weird and wonderful? No. Did the fact that I was a Christian bring only people of faith to my door? No. In fact only one lady came as a result of what she had read, and that was because she knew that I would understand her past and not judge her (her words not mine). We have just finished over a year of successful work together.
I decided at that time that the clients I was already working with needed to know about the auto-biography and the newspaper article. I did not tell them what it was about, but just gave them heads up that it was coming out. Most chose to wait and not read the book, others only saw the newspaper article, and some did not read anything. I am not so blind to say that it didn’t have some effect, it probably did, but it was the strength of the relationships already in place that enabled the work to continue on undaunted.
Therapists are not robots, we have lives and situations to deal with and I believe it is an insult to clients to act as if we are. We can maintain our professional status as well as be our careful congruent selves.
The effect of the client on the counsellor; my desire for social change.
It is the hours of sitting with my client’s pain that has pushed me to write my debut novel. It is the hours sitting with children who have witnessed, seen or heard the abuse of a parent. It is the hours counselling teenagers who have a view of themselves that leaves a lot to be desired. It is the feeling of hopelessness that would sometimes sweep over me as I spoke to my supervisor, of the difficulties faced as a therapist when children’s lives rest in the decisions of a damaged parent. The feeling of impotency.
It is the hours sitting with, mainly women, so entrenched in the cycle of domestic abuse that they can hardly breathe, that has caused my fingers to fly over the keys as I have entered the family’s life at the heart of my novel.
‘At Therapy’s End’ tells the story of one family as they deal with the effects of domestic abuse and the loss of a child. It tells the story of a mother who has grown up in domestic abuse and the result that it has on her life and that of her own adult family.
You may ask what my hope for this book is; you may ask who it is for and what effect it will have on my work?
I can answer with giving you my hopes and dreams, the two things that the broken are so often unable to reach.
I hope that my novel will encourage those stuck in abusive relationships. I hope that those with faith will find a way through. I hope that it will show a process some go through to find a safe place to talk. I hope it will show the face of congruent therapy and the journey to trust.
My belief is that domestic abuse, although higher in profile today, is a hidden menace and that we, I, need to respond appropriately. As a therapist who is a Christian I believe that we need to challenge the church and all faiths to bring into the light all that is hidden so that it can be dealt with. And I must make the world at large aware of the terrible lives people are living. I must be a voice to inform.
My belief is that many are afraid to talk and that as they have taken a deep breath, dived in and spoken to me, that I must respond.
Before anyone starts jumping up and down about confidentiality, let me assure you that neither clients, nor anyone else I know are in this book. This is drawn from my own imagination and life, this is about what I know happens out there. This is about having to respond in order to be truly me, this is about congruence.
My dream is to be able to be a voice, a campaigner, an educator, to open the eyes of society to the ramifications of children and young people growing up in these situations. As the employment situation worsens and finances are tightened it is more likely that more situations of abuse will arise. As silence continues its reign across society, women in more affluent walks of life will be unable to envisage what freedom will look like. Local organisations are reporting increased numbers coming forward all the time. As the faith organisations continue to frown on divorce and this gag their women I will continue to speak.
Will it change my therapy?
We will have to wait and see.
My novel was nearly here; my heart beat hard in my chest in anticipation of finally holding this creation, this new born baby. Now was the challenge to do something with it, and to hold lightly the hope that I wanted to challenge the status quo.
People have varied views on counselling, some think it is a complete waste of time as what difference can talking make? Others however, have spent time with a therapist as they have dared to bring into the open the traumas of their past and discovered something amazing happens: they are heard and they are not alone and for some reason everything changes.
I work with many different people who all have unique lives and all the reasons that they look for counselling are different too. They may fall into certain brackets, say- bereavement, but then who can say we can bracket death together as every loss in different too: they may have loved the lost one or maybe not, they may have mixed views on them, all I know is that it is only as you spend time with them that you can understand the details and true feelings about the loss.I am privileged to work with couples who come to see me when a crisis in their relationship arises, often it is because of an affair, but once again all affairs are different too and it is only as they become able that the truth surfaces and what is often very painful is examined.
Victims of sexual abuse are often found sitting opposite me as they gradually, over time take a deep breath and trust me with truths that so often have never seen the light of day, and have definitely never been uttered by them.
Women whose marriages have been full of abuse start to examine the truth of the person they have become as, in the safety of my room, they recognise the lies that they have lived for so long. Speaking these lies out reveals the burden that they have carried.
Children come, teenagers too, some full of hope but often full of pain and loss. And silence reigns as they battle to find words as they sit with me staring truth in the face.
So back to the beginning: what is counselling? It is a space, a safe place eventually, where the worst can be spoken and sometimes the best. It is a safe pair of metaphorical arms that will not break when the worst is said. It is a place where value is not earned but given. A place where I put one foot in another's world whilst keeping one foot safe in mine, it is a place of hope and love.
Susie Flashman Jarvis offers a wide range of services at counselling Tunbridge Wells to meet the needs of her clients. An Accredited Counsellor with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists she has over 12 years experience working with men, women and children of varying ages and she also works with children and parents together and with couples. Counselling Tunbridge Wells
"I work in a room on ground level that is easy to access. My clients experience it as a relaxing place to look at very difficult issues, a kind of sanctuary that allows them to sigh with relief as they settle in their chairs"
"I have a wide range of experience which results in even the most anxious client experiencing a holding relationship that enables them to look at the most deep rooted issues."
As a Professional Counsellor holding an Advanced Diploma in Counselling and situated in Southborough on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells. Counselling Tunbridge Wells is able to support those living in the surrounding areas of Maidstone, Sevenoaks Kent and East Sussex. She is accessible via a local railway station and bus route for those without transport.
Her experience in counselling includes working with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, bereavement, trauma and domestic abuse. She is also able to provide clinical supervision to those working in a similar field.
At counselling Tunbridge Wells,Susie has many years of experience, she also holds many relevant qualifications and accreditations to help her to help you:
With the ability to undertake all types of counselling for various clients, whilst always maintaining a high standard of service, that is at a personal but professional level at all times Susie Flashman Jarvis has gained a reputation with her customers as one of the most effective counsellors in Sevenoaks.
If you require counselling for bereavement in Tunbridge Wells, Susie Flashman Jarvis can offer a confidential service to help you through this difficult time. She also offers therapy for clients who are suffering from stress, depression or anxiety in Tunbridge Wells or those who require counselling for work related issues.
So if you require a professional Counsellor in Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells,Tonbridge, Maidstone or surrounding areas please contact, "counselling Tunbridge Wells" using the contact us form.
Counselling Tunbridge Wells is a safe place to be.