Just outside my little house I have a wooden bench. The sun warms it through late morning and afternoon. The cat loves it. I love it. And a funny thing happens when I sit on my bench…

I face a community green with a number of other small houses, bungalows and apartments around. Whenever I sit on the bench, I can watch the comings and goings of life. And – everyone who walks past talks to me.

Sometimes, it’s a passing comment or greeting. Sometimes it’s just me and the cat. Sometimes, people join me on the bench and start talking.

I listen. We chat. We laugh. We share. We moan. We ask questions and find answers. We impart news. We come up with ideas. We share a cup of tea. We put the world to rights.

And sometimes people use me and the space as a sounding board. A confessional. A little bit of therapy.

Some of them know my profession. Many don’t.

I use listening skills. Often I use counselling skills.

And so my bench becomes a place of healing. A cathartic space. A space to off-load. A space to rest and recover. And a space to simply relax and watch the world go by.

Do I make notes? Or refer them? Do I tell them I might need to notify someone else of what they tell me? Do I tell them I’m using counselling skills, listening skills or a specific technique? Do I give them a set amount of time? ……

Well – what would you do?

The Online Certificate in Counselling includes an exercise which includes the following question:

“If you were using your counselling skills with a friend or neighbour who had been upset in his/her life, what would you say about your role and the limits of confidentiality?”

I invite you to come and sit on my bench a little while and reflect on what is essential, what is important, what is relevant.

Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in “being” a counsellor/therapist/coach/ that we overlay the everyday with stuff that doesn’t need to be there.

Just because you are trained as a counsellor, doesn’t mean that you always engage as a counsellor. Don’t over-egg it. Be real. Be human. Be you.

It simply evolves. Because that’s what happens.

Anything else is not my bench…


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