How Counselling Can Be Surprisingly Engaging (And Even Fun)

How Counselling Can Be Surprisingly Engaging (And Even Fun) At Attuned Psychology Adelaide

As a psychologist who often uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and mindfulness based techniques, I see individuals facing a wide range of challenges – depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, loss, and numerous other difficult life experiences.  These are undeniably serious issues, and naturally, therapy is often associated with emotional intensity and difficult conversations.

However, in my years of practice, I’ve been consistently surprised by the unexpected presence of enjoyment, positivity, laughter and playfulness within the counselling room. This might sound counterintuitive, but hear me out.

Embracing The Full Human Experience

Life is hard, complicated and messy for all of us!

Our times of greatest joy can quickly be overtaken by feelings of sadness or worry.

When we are grieving a loved one, we may both laugh and cry when we remember a particular memory. Even when life is particularly tumultuous and challenging, there will also be brief moments to pause, breathe and experience a moment of lightness amongst the dark. 

In my approach to therapy / counselling, I aim to provide you with practical skills and strategies to help you to live a meaningful life and to do the things that are important to you, whilst also experiencing the full spectrum of human emotions.

I’m very careful to ensure that when I use this more playful approach to counselling, that this isn’t done in a way that dismisses or minimises the seriousness of the issues my clients face. The pain you are experiencing is very real. 

Any activities or exercises I use in session to teach a new skill or explain a new concept are carefully chosen and tailored to each person.

I also ensure they are used in a way that is full of curiosity, sensitivity, empathy, support and most importantly relevant to your specific goals of wanting to improve your wellbeing.

Jelly Snakes, Ping Pong Balls, Cardboard Tubes, Bubble Wrap, A Chess Board And A Chinese Finger Trap

These are just some of the unexpected objects I often utilise in the therapy room with both adults and children! 

In order to help my clients learn new skills and understand new concepts, I often am required to be quite creative in how I demonstrate and present information. This includes the use of metaphors as well as practical experiential exercises to assist in learning new skills that can be used outside of the therapy room. 

These tools are used to demonstrate various helpful strategies such as learning how to stop fighting with our thoughts and feelings, focusing our attention in flexible ways, taking some of the power from our thoughts and engaging and savouring more enjoyable aspects of our lives. 

For example as humans, we often spend a lot of time and energy trying to push away our unpleasant thoughts and feelings. This is incredibly draining and makes it very hard for us to focus on the things that matter to us.

Instead of simply talking about this, I often act this out in various ways with clients. This can include using a clipboard and paper, bubble wrap or even ping pong balls and other objects.

By asking clients to actively engage in the metaphor, they are often more easily able to understand and remember the concept we are focusing on, helping them to incorporate this into their daily lives. 

The Benefits Of “Fun” In Counselling

By using a range of different tools, techniques, objects, activities and exercises, including those that are more playful when appropriate, I’ve noticed a wide range of benefits for my clients, namely:

  • Increased Engagement: When individuals find therapy engaging and interesting, they are more likely to actively participate, leading to better outcomes.
  • Skill Development: Through experiential exercises, clients can practise coping skills and mindfulness techniques in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Enhanced Learning: It’s much easier for clients to remember a concept we have been talking about, if it is also paired with an activity or practical exercise (and even more so if they had some fun doing it). 
  • Building a Strong Therapeutic Relationship: Playfulness and appropriate humour can foster connection and trust between psychologist and client, creating a safe space for open communication and exploration.

Counselling Is A Personal And Individual Journey

While my approach incorporates aspects of fun and engagement, please be assured that I also absolutely value the importance of meeting you where you are at, and providing you with the opportunity to deeply explore the painful and challenging thoughts and feelings you’re facing in your life.

If you’re considering counselling, don’t be discouraged by the preconceived notions of seriousness.

While we will undoubtedly delve into challenging topics, the process can also be an engaging and empowering experience, helping you navigate your journey towards greater well-being and improved quality of life. 

Nicole Hendry
Registered Psychologist

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