Thursday, December 16, 2021

Helping our patients to unhook from thoughts and feelings through “supportive counseling”

Over the years with training Registrars, I have noted than many trainees tend to underestimate the value of “supportive counseling” for their patients. I suspect some of us do too.

“Supportive counseling” may not be simply “supportive”.

When our patients are able to share or “extrovert” their thoughts and feelings in a safe environment, it may help them to detach and observe their thoughts and feelings “from a healthy distance” with their Doctor. Together, we then can notice them, observe them with curiosity, holding it more lightly, non-judgmentally, and with kindness. Through that “support”, they may be able to unhook, distance, or defuse from those thoughts or feelings. They may even change their perception and experience with those thoughts and feelings.

Once we are able to unhook or “distance” from our old thoughts, feelings and narratives, we then can be “set free” and move forward with a new narrative or chapter in our life story.

I wonder if you can agree that when providing “supportive counseling” in a non-judging and compassionate way, you are doing much more than you think that you are doing. 

We witness their thoughts and feelings together.  We help them to develop “self as context” i.e. be “observer”, rather than over-identification with one’s thoughts and feelings.

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