Home' LOTL : February 2006 Contents 53
By Dawn Cohen
QI am thinking of becoming a counsellor, but I grew up in a
disturbed family.What if I mess people up because of my own
problems? On the couch.
AYou raise a valid worry. The crucial difference between being
a good counselor or a dangerous one is not having issues,
but the extent to which you have addressed them. Addressing
issues doesn’t just mean mulling them over or doing a few sessions
of your own work. It means immersing yourself in the journey of your
own personal growth so that you will learn where your fault lines can
trip up your clients. The process is usually expensive, grueling and
awesome. Even when you do get a glimmer of your weaknesses, your
unconscious can still lead you astray. Ongoing self-monitoring with
the support of a supervisor and colleagues is required. If you want to
take others on a journey into themselves it is essential to have done it
yourself. I think it’s a very enriching life choice.
QMy GP says I have depression and I should go on medication. I
knew I was down, but I was shocked to realise I had an illness.
The doctor assured me the drugs were safe. I want to be
responsible but I am not keen on drugs. Low.
AWhat does ‘having an illness’ mean to you that is different from
feeling low? Medical language to describe inner states is useful,
but sometimes it can be disempowering. All anti-depressants
have side effects. Many people find them invaluable, but there are
alternatives. If you are willing to explore the reasons you are feeling
lousy, then exercise and psychotherapy can be affective. You need to
consult a specialist to work out what is right for you. Get a second and
third opinion from a psychologist or a psychiatrist about what you need.
QI feel very isolated in the lesbian community. For all the talk
of the great community, I haven’t found it. Why am I lonely?
ACommunity is a bonus, but warm, real connections with
individuals is the magic ingredient in dispelling loneliness. Don’t
look for a group feeling or even the sensation of belonging. Find
someone with similar interests that you like and respect. Make friends
with them. There is an assumption that making friends should come
naturally, but actually it takes skill and practice. Think of fun activities
you can do together while getting to know your new buddy. Work on
being authentic about your own thoughts and feelings. That means not
pretending to be someone you aren’t, but it doesn’t mean dumping
all your needs, sadness and anger on them. It is also important to
remember you don’t have to meet all their needs either. You will need to
bear the alone feeling for quite a while as you practice friendship. After a
few years of trial and error, you will have a network of mates.
The opinions expressed in this column are the personal views of the
writer. They are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.
If you need medical or psychological help please see your local GP or
“There is an assumption that making
friends should come naturally, but
actually it takes skill and practice.”
Our caring and experienced therapists are
dedicated to promoting your well-being.
A variety of modalities are provided to
nurture your body, heart and soul.
We offer bodywork and energy healing,
counselling, art therapy to support self
enquiry and facilitate positive change.
207 King Street, Newtown 2042 02 9557 9834
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