People who come to me for counselling say they get the best benefits from “whole self” counselling which includes the mind, body and spirit.
Here are some key words and ideas related to the MIND aspect of whole self counselling, ideas and themes that often emerge from counselling sessions:
The pre-frontal cortex (PFC):
The pre-frontal cortex is the more recently evolved area of the brain. It’s known as the “command centre” or the brain’s “CEO”, which is responsible for higher-level planning, strategizing and decision-making. It is the PFC that, when developed, is able to “rein-in” your emotions. It is the PFC’s job to get a handle and keep a handle on your emotions. In other words, when you strengthen your PFC, you are in command of your emotions, and you run your own show, not your emotions. Emotions always just pop up – always – for everyone. They are automatic, and they are often reactions to your situation. Unless they are checked by your PFC, they love to run amok, like a bunch of dogs off-leash, or a party room full of unsupervised kindergarten kids.
Individuation involves finding and developing the courage to stand up for yourself, identifying your real needs, distinguishing yourself from family scripts, and living more into YOU and the life you want to live – as opposed to the life others think you should be living. Individuation is the key to freedom, life satisfaction, and a deep sense of personal fulfillment. Here, people identify and shore up their own healthy boundaries, and find effective ways to maintain and protect their boundaries with ever greater consistency. “Enforced” or “expected participation” or “togetherness” that you did not choose just saps the life right out of you, while interestingly, individuation leaves you feeling genuinely more open and more available for others – on your own terms – in ways that are safe and meaningful for you.
Clarity naturally emerges through counselling as a result of slowing down, taking the time to think, and listening to yourself speak. People get clarity when they feel free and safe in the session, when they know they can just talk without being judged. Clarity is of the utmost importance to people: it forms the bedrock, the foundation, on which you build whatever it is you want to build. When you feel clear, you have context. You are oriented. You have direction, and can move forward in the ways you deem best.
Focus resulting from training your PFC through a variety of ways is like jet fuel that powers your day. You get more done, and feel better about what you are doing. Focus involves a sense of “purchase”, tenacity, power, effectiveness, personal agency. Living with focus is satisfying and feels good. No matter what you are doing, if you are focused: you feel great doing it. Cumulatively, this has you living a more enjoyable, fulfilling life.
We all have to make endless choices, all day long. Most moments involve choices. Even “good” choices can be their own kind of burden, especially if you are tired or “all choiced out” – which is common these days because we’re simply faced with too many choices. Whole self counselling helps you develop your mind to field choices better. As a result, you have more time and energy to get on with things.
Small decisions can be hard, and having to make really big decisions related to jobs, careers, where to live, relationships and life transitions can be daunting, leaving us feeling quite paralyzed perhaps. Making decisions is a matter of the mind, but is also impacted by how we feel in our bodies, and by what we want in a spiritual sense. For example, finding ways to live more deeply into personal values such as happiness, peace, or love often helps people make decisions. In counselling, I provide you with opportunities to realize what YOU truly want, as opposed to feeling rushed, pressured or distracted by “red herrings”, old patterns, “shoulds” and other internal and external “white noise” that simply adds to the confusion. Counselling can be like a “distillation of your self” – allowing you to filter down to your own essence and from there, clearly see your way forward.
Identifying “wants” and goals:
Interestingly, there can be a real difference between “wants” and “goals”. Counselling gives you the chance to explore that difference, and to separate out what you truly want from “goals” that might actually just be whims or fantasies. There is an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, it might come true”. Taking the opportunities in counselling to clarify what you actually want often saves people a lot of time, energy, effort and investment. Perhaps you remember a time when you put a lot of effort into achieving a goal and then realized, “this isn’t actually what I wanted after all”. How do you truly know what you want? This is worth touching on in whole self counselling.
The ability to plan well is “of the mind” and involves complex, interesting creative connections that impact all aspects of your life. Plans you make and execute related to your work, your lifestyle, your time management, your relationships, your health and wellness affect all other plans. There are a lot of moving parts. Since planning takes place within the PFC, developing your PFC supports your planning. Whole self counselling optimizes this development because you’re not just focused on “making plans” as isolated events, but on increasing awareness of your whole system: mind, body and spirit. Strengthening your whole self naturally leads to better planning. Good planning is a natural “side effect” of a strengthened, healthier, better-functioning “whole self”.
As with planning, so with confidence and self esteem. People often find that confidence and self esteem naturally result from shifting from negative states characterized by some form of internally- or externally-generated punishment such as fear, frustration or hostility to positive states characterized by various forms of reward such as happiness, joy, peace, sense of connection or love. The core of the whole self counselling I do with people involves these kinds of state shifts that help people to simply feel better. When you feel better, you easily feel more confident and living from a place of increased self esteem feels like a given.
“I started working with Julia at a particularly tumultuous time in my life. I felt like I really needed support and attention to work out what shape I wanted my life to be, how I wanted to be in the world.
My work with Julia has been really transformative. In our sessions, we explored my feelings, the questions I had about my life, and how I wanted to move forwards, often using images that emerged spontaneously and turned out to be powerful tools that helped me shift my awareness to new and more grounded perspectives.
As we continued to work together, I felt a growing connection to my awareness, my imagination, and my goals. Her attention to words and feeling, her thoughtful questions, and her commitment to presence have supported me in developing my own tools and approaches to navigating my internal terrain. Often, a session will result in a deep awareness – a feeling of returning to by body, of a sense of belonging in the world. Working with Julia has really helped me develop a practice of being deeply human in awareness.”
N.K. graduate student