Not Everybody has the Ability to Hear and Not Judge
Having been on both sides of the therapist’s table, I know what it’s like to need to be heard and not to be judged. As a client, I felt that therapy was about being accepted. It was important I find a therapist who didn’t need me to translate what was going on into therapeutic language. I just wanted to be able to talk about and feel whatever came up that day.
What I really wanted from a therapist was:
What most of my clients really appreciate from my therapy is:
“I feel so grateful for your generosity and the gift you have given me into the insight of my own wisdom is priceless. From the bottom of my heart I thank you.” July, 2019
“Thanks for everything you did to train me up to show me what is possible and to do work for our enterprises I really loved every minute of working with you and I’m so grateful the time you gave me to pay things back I am so grateful for you in my life.” June, 2019
“I feel so well loved and appreciated and that gives me support when I feel like I am about to fling myself out of a comfortable nest, like I am surrendering to my Soul...it is a bit frightening as I am not sure what my life is going to look like..I don't understand why I am scared, I just am... My ego is a bit grumpy and does not want to let gooooo…..” April, 2015
“I feel like you are an evergrowingglowing light, you see it all as One, no judgement. You are the Yes of Life.” March, 2015
“I feel like I have completely changed the paradigm that I have been living in my whole life so far. It felt like an easy transition. It felt soft and nourishing and gentle. Beautiful really. Generally speaking when I have a big shift it feels like I am whirling around in a hurricane for a while until I become grounded again, but this time is was more of a remembering than an awakening. Like I had done his all before and have known it all before. Thank you for a phenomenal experience. I am having so much fun!” February, 2015
I started counselling in my teens. After an incident at high school, I was sent to a mental health clinic at the local hospital called Hut F. It was a fascinating experience but did not click with me. I did not feel heard. It was as if the first session made a mould of who I am and every session after that was held in comparison to that; as if I needed to fit into a description box constructed about me rather than being seen and met anew in each encounter.
Many years later, I was in therapy again. This time with a psychiatrist. I had hoped to gain some perspective around my strong emotional states and physical reactions to going outside but the focus of psychiatry is not on insight. There was no discussion of what I was going through and how I might make sense of it. Only medication and diagnosis.
My third experience with a professional went a little smoother. This time I saw a clinical psychologist. Oh, what a difference it makes when someone wants to treat you as an equal. Unfortunately, we only had a few sessions together and our time was focused on getting me out of crisis". Again, the strategy was flawed. Trying to solve the problem rather than build understanding. But at least this doctor was less interested in labels and drug treatment.
My whole life I have found it so easy to listen in a way that people find refreshing. It never ceases to amaze me that people trust me enough to tell me some of the most difficult and painful things they’ve ever told another human being. And it’s not just clients. Complete strangers can be revealing their secrets within minutes. I can’t say for sure, but I think it has something to do with my ability to ask the “right” questions. Not to mention accepting everything as normal. All of which comes naturally to me.
When I see a therapist, however, it’s rarely that way with them. It took me a while to realise that not everyone has the ability to hear and not judge.
It may seem strange to admit that I have been in therapy but honestly, if I could afford it and I could find one that fit, I’d be in session at least once a week. It’s so refreshing to just drop all my awarenesses and be able to focus on what’s going on for me without having to organise the communication-energy in the room. But that would take a magically skilled being with more than counselling experience. They would have to be like me, tuned to all kinds of wonders - flexible, fluid and wholly present to what’s going on. I guess that’s where ‘cosmo-counselling’ came from.
Knowing that everybody needs to be listened to differently and no single approach can encompass everything, I came up with a name for the way I work in session. It’s a way of listening that doesn’t have any rules until the person talking (that would be you, the client) has elaborated on what works for them. I like to be present to the whole context of your experience. I like to feel at the edges and see how everything fits together for you. And that takes time.
It also requires trust. You have to trust yourself enough to talk into areas you may not be sure of yet, areas you may be uncomfortable with or even afraid of. That’s okay. You don’t have to do any of that straight away. It will take time to build up a picture of yourself that is trustworthy enough to share with another human being. It will take time to come to terms with all the different histories you have going all at once. But we have time.
One thing about the work I do is pace and space are primary. I usually set aside half a day to work with your one session. Even though each session is booked in 1.5-hour slots, there’s no guarantee you’ll be finished with what you’re working on in that time. Plus, the work I do starts well before our session begins and continues long after you’ve gone onto the next thing. To ensure you have the best pace and space possible for each and every encounter, I adapt.
I consider each client on their own terms. That means cosmo-counselling is not here to change you. If you’re down-to-earth and need to talk straight, I can do that. If you believe in transformation, that’s where we’ll work from. If you’re discovering something new about yourself or the universe, I won’t mess that up for you. I am here to honour and privilege your experience as it makes sense to you by working within the systems you have in place such as ‘mental health’, ‘diagnosis’, ‘medication’, ‘family’, ‘work’, ‘relationships’, ‘parenting’ and so on.
It is an approach especially agreeable to experiences that do not fit readily into conventional therapeutic paradigms. A fancy way of saying, I don’t make any assumptions so feel free to show up as you are and work with that. Let me fit into your worldview, not the other way around. I love to be present to the wholeness of you. In equal parts, this presence is to how you see yourself and to the perfection that I perceive as a natural part of how I am.
For example, those who identify with notions of the unbounded self, not necessarily human, gender spectrum, oneness, and any so-called non-Western cosmologies tend to find cosmo-counselling a lot warmer than traditional Gestalt or client-centred approaches.
This method sits outside traditional psycho(logical)dynamic approaches that tend to assume a problem-solution perspective. Instead, cosmo-counselling works within what is called a mise en scene or arrangement of everything in frame. That means we work on constructing your cosmological view of the world before we assume we know anything about you, what you need and what you’re going through. Even if the work we do is professional development based, it is important to begin with a deep and broad understanding of your mise en scene.
Cosmo-counselling takes into account what is true for you - in the past, present and all nonlinear timezones. As a researcher, my studies have opened me up to academic and layman sources of information. This knowledge has been invaluable to me as a therapist. I now know that the way I operate makes sense in many parts of the world and that what I see-hear-sense is not so unusual. There are numerous traditions that seek to honour and privilege knowledge rather than respect and empower by "knowing other".
• psychological anthropology
• processual social ontology
• human geography
• international relations
• cultural politics of difference
• complexity and education
• sociotechnological networks
• Chinese medicine
• Matrix Energetics
• deva avatar
To be fair, my fees sit somewhere above most counsellors and well below the cost of many business coaches or spiritual healers. If you would rather not book a private session, there are various alternative ways to interact with the cosmo-counselling process. Check out the online experiences available or sign-up for an email series. They are full of experiments and videos that many of my clients find useful.