Dragging Up the Past

Why Do Counsellors Always Drag Up the Past.



This is something I hear a lot and I can understand why people may not see the

relevance of the past when they are upset about something that happened at

work last week.


Each of us is unique. From our earliest moments, we observe everything that

we see and hear and everything that we see and hear is, of course, normal to

us. We develop our self value according to our interactions with others and

develop a core belief about ourselves that can affect us for the rest of our lives.

If we are told to be a ‘good girl/boy’ for Mummy then this would imply that we

should be compliant and we may then find it hard to complain or stand up for

ourselves. Similarly, if we are told that we are ‘bad’ or ‘stupid’, this can become

our identity and stops us from believing that we are capable and worthy of the

things we would like. I expect we can all remember something that was said at

primary school that still lives with us!


To show how deep seated these early values can be, you may remember going

to play at a friend’s house when you were young and how very shocking it was

to discover that you were allowed to eat sweets before tea (or that you weren’t).


So you can see how talking about early experiences is a very important part of

counselling. Knowing your early experiences will help me to understand you

better and how these have shaped your view of the world, your place in it and

also the internal pressures and expectations you put on yourself.


So when you come to see me about your anxiety around your forthcoming

appraisal at work we can take into account the difficulties you had at school and

your feeling that your parents never praised you and that nothing you did was

ever good enough.


Whenever I meet a new client I always go through their early life as I feel it is so

important. This would not mean making my client relive every painful detail in

great depth, it would be no more than about 5 minutes, I call it ‘a quick trot’. It is

surprising how often my clients start to see for themselves the roots of their

issues. This helps them to realise that their self identity is not fixed and that

positive change is possible.


So next time you hear that counsellors ‘drag up the past’ then you will

understand the reasons behind it and how beneficial it will be for your therapy.


Mari