My Journey to Counselling
David at his pre-verbal and cutest stage of development
My journey began early in life.
For some years, my dad worked night shift at a small, residential hotel in New York City, where he was the night manager and also kept the books. He was not overly fond of his work, but fortunately he was blessed with a healthy sense of humour. As a consequence, when he arrived home in the early morning, he often had a story to tell about the goings-on, especially on week-ends, in the heart of a city that was rarely short of goings-on. There was a quality in his stories that was at the same time humorous and sad and which intrigued me and made me hunger for more. Those stories were about real people who seemed to do inspiring and appalling things in equal measure. I, of course, didn’t know it then, but I believe it was nurturing in me an appreciation for the complexities of human nature and the love for stories that helped me understand them.
My further journey to counselling continued with my studies in English literature at university, the writing of short stories and children’s books and then performing for six years in the NSW school system as a story teller with the NSW Theatre-in-Education program. Looking back on it, now, all those activities appear as stages in my education that would ultimately bring me to where I am today, at a place from where I am able to listen to others’ stories–arguably the most crucial skill any counsellor can have.
When I myself have the experience that another hears the story that is trying to emerge from me, a story that will give meaning to what has seemed confused, something shifts and no longer feels stuck. The problem itself may not yet be solved, but I begin to see a way clear. I become hopeful; there are possibilities; energy, excitement, maybe some determination for change will start to flow.
We all tell stories to ourselves about who we are and who we might one day become. If those stories are not a good fit, are unnecessarily limiting, or are stories that come from others who may have had some reason for wanting us to be a certain way, then it may be time to examine them and find alternative stories that more truly express our being.
My own personal journey to counselling has unfolded in such a way that I currently find that my most satisfying moments are ones in which I am allowed to listen. As one author has described it, I find I am acting as a midwife in the bearing of a new story into the world, one that will bring a renewed, deepened life for its teller.