Beautiful from Broken - Counselling and the Art of Kintsugi
Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Beautiful from Broken
I am often asked how counselling works – how can someone feel better about themselves just by talking? And its hard to explain the answer to that. Counselling is never about giving advice or telling someone what to do or how to deal with something. It is about helping someone to discover themselves, their feelings around their own experiences and accepting who they are.
Most clients come into counselling feeling that they are ‘’broken’ or ‘damaged’. They may have experienced grief, heartbreak or childhood trauma and struggle with the emotional damage these have caused. These traumas can present themselves in different ways, such as anxiety and depression amongst others.
I try to help my clients find a way to embrace their wounds, their hurts or their traumas by seeing each experience as part of their journey. Each client is unique and the sum of their experiences. Enabling the client to look at all of these elements and finding a way to put them together in a way which helps the client appreciate their own uniqueness, leads to acceptance.
Maybe I can explain it this way :
Kintsugi or ‘golden joinery’ is a Japanese philosophy celebrating imperfection, the art of repairing what is broken with gold to leave visible repair marks, resulting in a stunning masterpiece which celebrates fragility, strength and beauty.
So let’s start with the ingredients : Epoxy, Broken Vase and Gold Laquer.
The epoxy fills the cracks and bonds the pieces together again. Myself and the client, through our therapeutic relationship, create the epoxy. Letting the client lead the way, using a fine balance of ingredients - empathy, acceptance and understanding, I walk alongside the client on their journey, with one foot in their world, re-living their experiences and supporting them where needed. Throughout the journey the client learns to achieve better understanding and awareness of themselves, promoting self trust. This blend of ingredients creates the perfect epoxy, strong enough to hold the pieces together but with a little flexibility to enable the pieces to stay together in the face of any future mishaps. And I am careful to ensure there is no judgement added to the mix as this will render the epoxy too brittle!
The Broken Vase
The broken pieces represent the client and their emotional wounds. We examine these broken pieces individually through the client’s story. What does each part represent, what does it mean to you- how does it make you feel? Are you holding onto these fractured parts as a reminder of how you have been treated or abused? Do these individual parts serve a purpose? Helping a client to acknowledge these experiences, talk about them and acknowledge their true feelings leads to acceptance of that part just as it is.
As we continue the counselling journey, we ‘fix’ the broken pieces together, putting them back in a way that makes sense to the clients. Handling these parts with care and compassion we continue to build until the vase is whole again.
The Gold Laquer
This applied over the breaks and signifies recognition and acceptance of the experiences and scars the client may have. The vase may look and feel different, but the personal strength and courage it has taken to overcome trauma is shown in the beauty of these scars. We are now stronger in the places where we have been broken.
The Finished Masterpiece
Recognising that something beautiful can come from something broken helps the client to value themselves exactly as they are! Realising that they can once again be a whole vessel, capable of holding their emotions and experiences gives them strength and hope for the future.
I hope that clarifies exactly what it is that we as counsellors hope to achieve with our clients. It is nice to imagine that somewhere there is a beautiful delicate vase held together with gold epoxy for every client who now has the emotional freedom to live a life of joy and acceptance.