The Importance of Self-Awareness for Counselors

In beginning this how do you know yourself essay, I have reflected much not only the last few years that I have been studying counselling but right back to my childhood. Did I have a sense of self as a child, when did I become aware of it and how has it changed?

Psychoanalyst and spiritual seeker Carl Jung; introduced us to the notion of archetypes. The archetypes represent universal forms and images that are part of the collective unconscious. According to Jung archetypes are inbred and unlearned and shape our individual experiences. Jung believed the collective unconscious is where these archetypes occur. Being aware of our personal archetypes allows us to become conscious and live in the present moment. By being conscious and living in the moment allows us to look at ourselves and be aware of our reactions to experiences without judging. This realised self-awareness allows us to adapt to circumstances and improve our self-esteem. Being aware of our own expectations and perceptions means the client/counsellor therapeutic process is not influenced by our own ‘stuff’. Paying attention to our own internal feelings and believing that change is possible gives us a feeling of being in control of what is experienced and believed, thus giving an improved self-esteem. Jung called this process individuation.

Within how do you understand yourself essay I want to share some personal experience. Over twenty years ago I began a journey of self-development, most notably I became Buddhist; it is a philosophy that I had been drawn to for a very long time. Zen Buddhist Thich Naht Hanh encourages us to embrace those parts of one’s self which are less than appealing, and by holding these parts, begin to heal and make whole that which has been fractured and split.

Looking back, I have always had a strong sense of self; even as a child; which I didn’t know the origins of, but was observed by teachers over the years. Through many years of self-development, education and being an insatiable seeker of the ‘truth’, I believe I have a solid sense of self. Of course, this sense of self has changed over the years along with my beliefs, experiences and expectations. 

I feel that I have been constantly evolving throughout my life and will continue to do so. I try to look at my feelings, work through them and file them for future reference, in case I need to reflect on them in the future. I am quite an emotional person and will pick up on the emotions of others quite easily; I am intuitive and will often have thoughts and feelings about people close to me, even when they are not with me. I’ve discussed these feelings with my counsellor, trying to get some reasoning for it, however I don’t think there is always a definitive reason. During counselling sessions with clients, I have felt upset at times with a tear in my eye, but never cried. However, during two recent counselling sessions I was moved to tears. The first time I think it was definitely my stuff and connected to my father. I also think on this occasion it was my subconscious taking over. On the second occasion I felt so terribly sad and upset, almost child-like. What I’m trying to work out at the moment is when my feelings are because I’m picking up something from the client energetically, when it’s projective identification or even self-focussed attention.

There is a difference between self-awareness and self-focussed attention that is needed to be mentioned in importance of understanding the self essay. The latter can make the client think that the counsellor is not giving their full attention to him or her. I reflected on this with my own counsellor, talking about an occasion that I had felt extremely anxious and upset with a client. My heart began to beat faster and I could feel the anxiety in my solar plexus. I was being told the details of the horrific death of the partner of my client. It just so happened that what was being described is my worst nightmare and I was very aware of how the feeling just crept up on me. I had known the details from the police report but when my client recounted the full story, I was quite alarmed at how I felt. The feelings didn’t overwhelm me on that occasion but I did feel really connected to my client in that moment. On this occasion if I had not been self-aware and suddenly started talking about my feelings out of nowhere (in the client’s perception) then this may have hindered our session. I later supported my client at the inquest and heard a lot more information but I didn’t react in the same way. I felt sad for the family but I think because it was in a different environment it wasn’t just my client and I.

I compared the event with my client to the time I became upset and cried at the end of skills practice. The two situations are very different because the relationship is different. With my client it was a very professional client/counsellor relationship, whilst I would always aim to be professional in any skills situation, I feel the relationship must be different. The relationship with any ‘skills client’ will always be different because of the interaction we have. We eat together, talk about personal things, message, laugh and empathise. We don’t do these things with a client outside of the counselling room.

I can see my patterns of relating quite clearly when it comes to work situations. What I also want to share in knowing myself essay, I am a very focused person and this course and my future is very important to me so if it came into conflict with my work then I would address it straightaway. Unfortunately, my lack of stress about situations was often seen as not caring about what I do. This of course was totally untrue as I care very much about my work and my team but I just don’t get stressed anymore. I think that this is definitely a pattern, if something doesn’t fit, I’ll change it.

Although self-awareness is a critical part of counselling, it is key to bring some distinction into the situation. Glimpses of the counsellor’s self-awareness can be distracting to clients. What is needed to know within knowing oneself essay, if the counsellor does not show elements of self-awareness throughout the session and then suddenly makes a connection to themselves; this can be very distracting for the client. If a counsellor starts talking about their own experiences this can really hinder the counselling session

In conclusion to understanding yourself essay, arguably researchers see the quality of the client/counsellor relationship more and more dependent on the therapists use of self. The counsellor who recognises the use of self in the relationship may effect a greater change than a counsellor with no self-awareness. Knowing yourself is critical for a counsellor to be able to hold the frame and create safe boundaries within the relationship thus providing an effective therapeutic use of self. Although knowing many theories gives a good solid basis of understanding; it is how those theories are integrated into the self that offer the tangible potential for change.

To sum up what is the importance of knowing yourself essay, as counsellors we need to consider and take note of the internal messages and feelings. formulated a belief that gets translated into our coping strategies to the given event. Then, transformation is a situation in which individuals experience the possibility of being in charge of what is felt, believed, and experienced. Through transformational process, we not only believe in ourselves, but also raise our self-esteem and believe that change is possible. Of course, before change is happened, we need to embrace the pain of the past in the present and feel the difference in the core of our well-being. All of the above is not only about the clients, but also about us, the social worker. Let’s start to use of self.

10 October 2022
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