The road to a better life can be a winding journey. Self-discovery takes time, life experience, and trying out new approaches to living. There are a myriad of ways we learn, create, and explore our personhood. We do this alone and in the presence of others. Discovery is an ongoing process throughout the course of our lives. Personal discovery can happen when we least expect it or in more purposeful and intentional ways. The process of discovery can feel uncomfortable as we try on for size likes, dislikes, and aspects about ourselves we would like to change. Sometimes discovery means facing fear, disappointment, regret, loss, and finding hope amidst it all. Exploring ourselves in the presence of another, no doubt, takes courage, even more so when self-exploration is particularly uncomfortable and, perhaps, a new experience. A leap of faith into an unknown, uncharted territory is sometimes needed.
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The willingness to invite another along in the journey and the compassion of the new member to be a supportive, caring other seems like a good partnership for discovery. Discovery needs space. Space, in the context of counselling, is like an interplay of non-directed time for exploration and a road map with possible pathways. Therapeutic space works best with warmth, respect, and compassion. A gentle nudge to try a new pathway helps too.
If self-discovery is such a personal journey, why is it helpful to work with another person? Counselling fosters a safe place to question old habits, perspectives, beliefs, and how one interacts with the world. Self-renewal takes creativity, curiosity, and consideration of alternatives. This process calls for a space that is nonjudgmental, open, receptive, and encouraging. Discoveries might be pleasant affirmations as well as distressing realizations. Space to hold, process, regroup, and integrate the discovery represents a core way that counselling and psychotherapy can contribute to the journey of personal discovery.
The views expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of the CCPA. Dr. Debbie Grove is a therapist working in Edmonton, Alberta. To learn more about her, visit her web site at www.learningtolive.ca
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA