Last week, I wrote a blog post titled The Vulnerable Therapist, exploring the inevitability and value of vulnerability in a therapist, and how this is expressed in the therapeutic encounter.
In this post I would like to explore resilience as a counterbalance to vulnerability. If our vulnerability is to be managed in the counselling room, I believe that our resilience provides us with the strength and courage necessary for the job.
So what is resilience? The BACP describe it as: “the capacity to work with the client’s concerns without being personally diminished.” (BACP, 2016) and as I browse the internet I find it variously defined as the ability to get up after a fall, and the confidence that we have the ability to deal with challenges should they head our way.
I like the latter definition most of all. It seems to me that our vulnerability becomes something we can embrace rather than fear when we trust ourselves to deal with whatever challenges may arise. To develop this inner-confidence, we must of course have adequate support in place for ourselves – a reliable network which we know we can call upon should we need to. In my work as a counsellor, supervision is central to this. I would also count my therapist, university tutors, peers and family among those who contribute to my resilience in different ways.
I do not think resilience can truly be present without self-care. Breaks, creativity, fun, rest and attending to our own needs strengthen and enrich us. If we are approaching burnout we are becoming personally diminished, and therefore our resilience is diminished too.
So while I am celebrating vulnerability, I also want to give a little shout out to resilience. These fraternal twins of wellbeing are essential parts of who we are as therapists, and as people.
BACP Ethical Framework. (2016). [pdf] Leicestershire: BACP. Available at: https://www.bacp.co.uk/docs/pdf/15595_ethical_framework.pdf. [Accessed 16 Jan. 2018].