by Susan S.
Going into co-counseling training, I was excited to begin learning techniques to be a better listener and to better validate other people's feelings. As someone who also has been in traditional therapy, I found it interesting to learn more about how to structure an effective counseling session and how to support someone in distress.
What I did not expect to gain was insight into how I could make traditional therapy more effective as well.
Co-counseling teaches us several important basic guidelines such as confidentiality and the concept that "what's said in co-counseling stays in co-counseling." That is, the person in the role of counselor should not bring up what is said during co-counseling outside the session, or even in a future session. It makes perfect sense. If a counselor brings it up, the client may not be ready to discuss it and could be negatively triggered. The client alone should bring up a topic.
A light bulb went on in my head: If I want to talk about the tough stuff, then it is up to me.
For some reason, I had assumed that if I "should" be talking about something in counseling, my therapist would bring it up. I figured the therapist knows a lot more than I do about psychology and mental health. But, looking back, I realized that the therapist has always let me set the topic -- and often I've avoided the most painful ones.
Having control over the topic also means that I'm ultimately responsible for which wounds I heal. If I'm going to confront the worst of the worst, if I'm going to give a voice to the wounded soul so carefully locked away in darkness, it's my choice. No one is going to force me.
Many of us have been deeply hurt by people who were close to us, so it is understandably and justifiably scary to trust someone. And we should be cautious when we meet someone new or if someone is pressuring us to discuss issues before we're ready. But now I know the power for me to heal is in my hands.