Towards an Integration of Counselling,Clienting and Meditation

Appendix 1.4  Some PreliminaryThoughts

An "Integration" of counselling, clienting andmeditation. The title begs a few questions in itself. What kind of counselling?,What kind of meditation? - and what is 'clienting' It's a bit of a giveawayto note that a verb form of the noun 'client' is so less familiar thancounselling, a verb form of counsellor. It suggests an assumption, somewhere,of passivity in the client in the client-counsellor relationship. Thisis not assumption made in the Co-counselling Community, - more on thatlater. I'll offer three very broad definitions of those three activitywords in the title. Commencing with the least familiar, the other two definitionsfollow on.

Clienting: Using the attention of anotherto alleviate one's suffering.

Counselling: Offering one's attention toanother in order to alleviate suffering.

Meditation: Paying attention to oneselfin order to alleviate suffering.

The word suffering has a particular significancein the Buddhist tradition; the 'First Noble Truth' is 'dukkha' - from theancient Pali language. Suffering, or unsatisfactoriness are close translationsto the word 'dukkha'. Perhaps 'suffering' could be replaced with 'an unsatisfactorypsychological condition' in the above definitions.

As for the word 'Integration', this is not anInquiry, (I don’t think!) about how to introduce a technique of meditationinto the co-counselling session. I'm more interested in looking at howpeople, - as clients, counsellors, meditatiors, - weave clienting, counsellingand meditation into their ongoing path of existential inquiry. It is tobe hoped that the vast majority of counsellors/therapists have had plentyof clienting experience; many professional therapists use meditation asa form of relaxation/support/ongoing growth, most transpersonal counsellorswill make use of meditation techniques in work with their clients - herethen, counselling, clienting and meditation are already strands in theweave of professional life's discourse.

The co-researchers in this Inquiry are all co-counsellorswho also practice meditation. Both the co-co unselling communities andmost of the various meditation teaching communities share a basic 'self-help'ethos. ie 'here's the techniques/practice, go and work with it and seeif it works for you.' Hence the inquiry group members already demonstratea tendency towards self-motivated inquiry - as distinct from professionalinterest - which integrates counselling, clienting and meditation. We arecoming together to explore the benefits (and pitfalls) of co-operationaround an area of mutual interest.

We are also looking at an integration of whatis essentially a dyadic practice (counselling/clienting) with a monadicapproach (meditation). Looking at the above definitions it at first appearsthat another distinction is that in meditation, attention has no directionalquality - whereas in counselling and clienting, attention is given or receivedrespectively. Unpacking the word ‘paying’, however, in the definition ofmeditation, we can arrive at two phrases:

a) I give attention to myself.

b) Me receiving my attention.

The second may sound laboured but in these twoways of describing the process another duality is revealed -that embeddedin the language (and therefore in the thinking) there are two ways of considering"self" - as an object called me or as a subject called I.

There are moments in meditation when this distinctionis transcended; when the witnesser and that which is witnessed are notdistinguishable. Here, too, the word integration seems appropriate.

Updated 16 June 99
by Martin Wilks