A friend of mine who admits that she is no fan of blogs said that she found the idea of selling the self rather intriguing. In my previous post I wrote that it's what contemporary society obliges everyone to do in order to establish a public profile. Perhaps it has always been thus, but there is something about the vast array of media that are within almost everyone's grasp that makes creating a public profile seem like shameless self promotion. I suppose everybody has their own personal experience of this so I will avoid the dangers of generalisation and speak only for myself as someone who is trying to advertise my services as a counsellor.
I guess the thing that makes me feel most uneasy is any claim to expertise that counsellors and therapists feel they need to make. This not only includes their academic and training credentials which certainly should be open for public inspection. It also includes "experience", which generally seems to mean time spent in the consulting room with clients. This certainly deserves to be presented to the public, as well. As a relatively inexperienced practitioner myself, I can see that far more is learned by seeing clients than by any amount of academic training. Here the essential skills of listening and empathising are developed and through the development of those skills a certain savoir faire can arise. So yes, this is an expertise of a kind. But the open secret of the psychotherapeutic arts is that nobody quite understands how therapy works, which is something that Jung --the greatest psychotherapist, in my opinion-- observed when he said that every successful course of psychotherapy hinged on an event that could not have been predicted beforehand.
Perhaps another way of putting this is that psychotherapy is an art that feels under pressure to present itself as a science. People with problems want answers and results provided by experts that are versed in science. They don't want some self indulgent artsy types who are treating their problems like some sort of poetic texts. To be fair, I would also have my doubts about any therapist who sees himself as some sort of creative genius. But the truth is that therapy and by extension therapists do not possess a comprehensive map of human experience and therapy often feels like stumbling in the dark for both therapist and client. A skilful therapist knows how to negotiate that darkness so that a secure destination can eventually be reached. But this is not something that therapists would usually want to advertise.
Part of this reason for this blog is to give prospective clients a better view of me and my therapeutic orientation than they could get on something like my page on Counselling Directory. I am on Counselling Directory and I am happy to be able to advertise my services there. But frankly, I pretty much followed the example of others in presenting myself. Of course, you could still say that I am still selling myself by writing this blog. But what I m telling you now is that as a counsellor/therapist I often stumble in the dark.
By the way, the logo on this website and my business cards is from a painting by Hakuin, the 17th century Zen master. It is entitled "Two Blind Men Crossing a Log Bridge", which seems to me to be an apt metaphor for therapy.