July 15, 2023 — Lawrence Sharrett, M.Ed, M.Div., MSc

Be Still & Notice (Reflections & Research Edition)

How a Bench Can Show the Beauty of the Counseling Process

Welcome to all of you, near and far, who have followed this page for Sharrett Counseling. As a counseling psychologist, the various reflections and research here will focus on “sitting alongside” individuals who continually move toward resilient growth both personally and professionally.

I recently learned of a psychologist who does not believe in personal therapy. Utterly surprised by this, it reminded me that those who engage in the courageous step of the therapeutic counseling process may just want to self-reflect on the quality of the rapport between self and therapist. It is a crucially important part of the process.

From the two European contexts where I live and primarily work (Greece and Bulgaria), many people in these countries do not believe in therapy because 1) they think it is only for people with “major problems” (this is a myth), 2) they aren’t interested in such significant self-investment (the central most important part of the counseling process is the desire of the client for change and growth), or 3) they simply don’t believe in, trust, or understand the process of therapy (something that many therapists may admit was their experience at the beginning).

My first time in therapy was about a decade ago, and it was a requirement for some work with a particular organization that placed high value on the readiness of individuals for certain types of service prior to unleashing them for various people-helping jobs. I went from annoyed to skeptical, from scared to safe, and then from curious to grateful. It was in a relatively short period of time that I not only began to believe in the process, but I also quickly became an advocate of the process.

As a result, the past ten years of my life have included many opportunities for personal and professional development, in both formal and informal settings. A few counseling classes in one graduate program led to counseling internships in numerous settings that eventually led to a professional graduate degree in counseling psychology in Athens, Greece. Simultaneously, I continued periodically to experience the tremendous value of the therapeutic process from professional counselors, pastoral counselors, and professional supervisors and coaches (mostly part of the programs and initiatives of my studies and work, but also significant personal therapy as well).

One of my counseling supervisors aptly described an experience that many people have in counseling. He said, “The counseling process helped me understand all my life [crap and baggage], but I still can’t quite figure out how to pick it all up.” For one to be able to make such a statement is indicative of profound success in the therapeutic process. It’s the common journey of humankind, one toward resilient growth in the midst of life’s crap and lifetime baggage. To understand part of it is to experience a burden-lifting. To contribute to part of it is to be a burden-lifter.

So, do you believe in therapy for yourself or for others? Maybe another question could be: Do you believe in the resilient growth potential of humankind?

“Be still and notice” what can happen in the professionally-designated places for personal growth. For me, benches are more than a bench. Benches are a symbol that you see all over the world, and they subtly invite people to find individual and reflective opportunities to “be still and notice” what is happening in and around one’s life. Enjoy finding your reminders and those who will sit alongside you as you reflect and remember.