I have often taught that the best kind of counseling session is where a client walks away thinking, “Hmmm, maybe I have to ponder this some more.” It is often prompted by a very good question, or revealing a hidden feeling, or some truth or new understanding that has been uncovered. Good counseling lingers in a client’s mind, heart, and soul long after they have left the counseling room.
I have experienced this in my own life through the counseling that I have sought with others, either a good friend or a professional counselor. Because I am such a visual person and an artist at heart, I often come away from those helpful interactions with a picture or a word in my mind’s eye that helps me focus and continue to ponder and process what was discussed. Sometimes, I go even further and make an entry into my art journal, combining both words and pictures.
Can we offer clients an opportunity for more contemplation of their choices?
I have often wondered if there was a vehicle by which we could invite clients to continue to contemplate what has taken place in the counseling session. I imagined words or images they could choose from that would encourage them in their decision making, or the next step(s) on their journey. Of course, the words would be designed to help them and not push our own agenda. (Always ministry not manipulation!)
One good ideas sparks another.
One year at the Rocky Mountain Conference (a wonderful yearly conference for Pregnancy Center Volunteers in the rocky mountain region) Jan Gessele, the director of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Glenwood Springs, CO, made a gift for the volunteers attending the conference. It was a box of magnets with affirming words, scripture and images that reinforced our identity in Christ. They were beautiful and the volunteers attending the conference were mightily blessed. And as one idea bounces off another I got to thinking . . .
I have always liked the stones I see in shops that are incised with contemplative words on them and thought they might be a great take-away for clients. But the carved ones are expensive and no one has a budget for expensive take-aways for clients. So I started playing in my studio with smooth stones, words printed on tissue paper, and some acrylic medium and have come up with an inexpensive way to make contemplative stones that you can offer to clients before they leave the counseling room.
I have been making these stones for a while now and have them in my home. I have them sitting on window sills and on pretty plates. When friends visit I often ask them if they would like to look over the stones and take one that resonates with them and might help them contemplate further on the prompting. Many people have chosen to take one and have been grateful for the opportunity.
How to use this idea in the counseling room.
This is how I imagine the stones being used in the counseling room. The stones could be displayed on a flat plate in the counseling room off to the side. At the end of the counseling session, as you ask the client to fill out her evaluation form, you bring over the plate of contemplative stones and say, “Here are some stones with words and phrases on them. Look them over and see if there is any word or phrase that pops out at you that may help you contemplate anything you have realized or discovered today or may help you as you continue on in your journey. If you find a word or phrase that might be helpful to you, please feel free to take that stone.”
Words & Directions
Please take some time and look over the words and directions for making the stones in the files attached to this email and see if you think offering contemplation stones might be a worthwhile idea. Not all the words on the attached sheet might be appropriate but I was just on a brainstorm roll and wrote down all the words that came to mind. Click on the links below to view and download the PDF file of directions and list of words you can choose from.
Getting the project done.
I imagine that you could get some artsy volunteers who would love to make the stones for you, or a church women’s group who are looking for a project. Contact a local youth group or a bunch of high school students who are looking to fulfill their necessary volunteer hours. Once you have the words printed out on the tissue and the available supplies, you can make many of the stones in a short amount of time.
Question . . .
What words would you like to add to the list that might resonate with clients and/or challenge them as they leave the counseling room and move back into their everyday life?
Do you think it is worth a try? I would love your feedback and ideas for additional words.