The ‘Fells & Dales’ group of counsellors in Cumbria/North Lancs met for our monthly meeting today, 9th December, and a new member was welcomed to the group. We discussed two chapters in Sheldon Kopp’s book ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!’
Sheldon Kopp wrote, ‘A grown-up can be no man’s disciple’, and ‘The most important things that each man must learn no one can teach him.’ Our discussions began with considering the extent to which we, as counsellors, have an ‘expertise’ to offer our clients. We may claim to be non-directive, to have no agenda, to seek to empower the client rather than exerting any power of our own, and yet what is it that clients come to us for? Are they not needing help and expecting a service, which we have been trained, qualified and experienced in providing? How to we steer a middle course between counsellor over- and under-involvement?
We agreed that there is a valid place for psycho-education, and that we are more than merely observers or witnesses of the client’s process, but in fact play an instrumental part in that process ourselves. On the other hand, we want to disabuse clients of the myth that there’s an answer/solution ‘out there’ somewhere, waiting to be grasped – a fixed end-point, and that all will be well if only we can reach it. Perhaps the best that we can offer is to accompany the client as closely as possible on their journey, tolerating the ‘stuckness’ and the not-knowing, despite being made to feel useless and inadequate in the process, rather than trying to (mis)lead them to a non-existent destination.