• Jennifer Gilling

Beyond boundaries

I sometimes reflect on my first experience of counselling some 20 years ago after my Dad died from cancer, I was the client. I had opted for grief counselling over an 8 week period rather than medication and was referred to a counsellor by the name of Margot.

As I walked into the room and shook hands with her, I couldn't help pondering our differences and whether I would be understood. Margot was White, possibly at retirement age and wore a smart green tweed suit and sensible brown leather shoes. I remember she had a bluish rinse to her hair and the most piercing blue eyes that were full of warmth and acceptance. She 'saw' me, she connected to my pain and her empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard toward me, allowed me to feel safe in expressing myself. Margot created a space that I looked forward to spending time in and that allowed me to be able to shut out the demands of my life and just breathe and 'be' for an hour each week for 8 weeks, in the presence of someone who genuinely cared; I dreaded the thought of it all ending.

The seed was planted for me in that one positive experience of counselling; not only the therapeutic benefits to connecting with a fellow human being in a state of distress but my interest and eventual training and working in the field of counselling.

I connected with Margot on a spiritual, human kind level and that was what we had in common; not because of any similarities. Those boundaries, real and perceived that society determines, categorising people by colour, gender, ethnicity and social status, had no place in that space. Counselling is very much relational and being able to connect with your client and they with you beyond what you or others may see as difference, goes a long way to achieving healing and recovery. I thank Margot for providing me such a transcendent experience all those years ago, it's stayed with me.

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