Creating A Safe Space As An Accidental Counsellor

One of the core themes we cover in our Accidental Counsellor Training is Connection. That means joining the person in the pit they are in.

Specifically, to acknowledge, validate and normalise their experience by reflecting back verbally and non-verbally not only what they are saying but also the message behind the message in an empathetic way. In this way, the person feels heard and understood

It can be difficult to listen empathically without trying to fix or change the person. By joining the person in the pit they are in and letting them explore what’s most distressing for them, you allow the person to discover and give voice to their feelings.

Yes, it can be difficult to resist the urge to provide unsolicited advice or try to fix the person’s problems. This often stems from a well-intentioned desire to help, but it can also be driven by the helpers own anxiety and uncertainty about how to respond to a difficult conversation.

When someone receives unsolicited advice, it can make them feel unheard and unvalidated, causing them to shut down and withdraw. It’s important to remember that the most helpful thing in these situations is to simply be present and create a safe space for the person to express their thoughts and feelings without interruption or judgment.

When we respond using empathic language, we convey to that person we understand or are striving to understand their situation. This has a powerful effect on people. Within this unique ‘space’ people who feel connected and understood are able to recognise their own strengths, hopes and solutions.

It truly is amazing how this happens. People at the start of a conversation may indeed be oblivious to options/ their strengths/ possible options they have, and yet through our willingness to enter the darkness through empathic responding, it’s like the ‘fog’ lifts and these qualities and options reveal themselves to the person.

I have heard more than once, “After speaking with you, I can see now that I do have other options. Thank you so much for coming to see me”. A person in pain is helped the moment they sense they are being understood.

In summary, the key skill of an Accidental Counsellor is the ability to join the person in the pit they are in, by acknowledging, validating and normalising their experience in an empathetic way. This creates a safe and loving space for the person to express their pain and emotions, rather than shutting down or feeling judged. The focus should be on creating this space, rather than rushing to fix the person’s problems.

Creating a safe space for the person to feel heard and understood triggers a powerful transformative effect on the person, it helps shit their energy, focus and perspective. They are no longer in the grip of the energy of the emotion because they have honored that feeling by giving it space rather than suppressing it. The shift in focus and perspective often leads to the person connecting with their own hopes, options and strengths and helps them feel connected and not alone.

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