As a family counsellor, I often find myself in the middle of a delicate dance between showing and telling. Families come to me with their unique set of challenges, and it’s my job to help them navigate the twists and turns of their relationships. But simply telling them what to do isn’t always the best approach. That’s why I believe in the power of showing.
As practitioners, our role is to create a safe space for families to explore their challenges and learn how to support each other effectively. As families, your willingness to engage in this process is essential for healing and growth. Here are some valuable approaches to embrace:
Putting Yourself in Each Other’s Shoes
When family members have different ways of learning and communicating, it can be difficult to find common ground. That’s why I often use exercises that put them in each other’s shoes. By experiencing a situation from another family member’s perspective, they can begin to empathise with their struggles and challenges. As practitioners, it’s a way for us to nudge them towards understanding and connection while helping them sit through the discomfort of the initial experience.
Intentionally Induced Frustration
But these exercises aren’t always easy. In fact, I intentionally design them to cause a bit of frustration. Why? Because we often don’t truly know how to respond to a challenge unless we’ve experienced it ourselves, even if it’s just to a small extent. By creating a safe space for families to experience frustration, they can learn how to work through it together.
Simulating Neurodivergence, Learning Disabilities, and Trauma Responses
For families with neurodivergent children, learning disabilities, or trauma responses, it’s crucial to understand their unique needs. That’s why I often use guided tasks that simulate the conditions and reactions these children might experience. It’s a way of helping parents understand what their children are going through and how they can better support them.
Discovering Common Ground
But it’s not all about the challenges. I also believe in showing families how various mechanisms and activities can benefit them. By discovering common ground and discovering the positives, families can begin to find joy and connection amidst their struggles, and even discover commonalities between them that run deeper than what is considered.
Finally, showing can also be a way of pinpointing specifics and clearing up misunderstandings. By exploring the reasons behind certain actions or behaviours, families can gain a deeper understanding of each other and learn how to communicate more effectively.
Counselling is a delicate dance between showing and telling. It’s about creating a safe space for families to explore their challenges and learn how to support each other. By putting themselves in each other’s shoes, experiencing intentional frustration to understand the discomfort, and discovering common ground, families can begin to heal and grow together.