Context and Perspective in Counselling work

Supportive Memes: Context and Perspective

I am attempting to explain why I have these two phrases in my counselling phrase log book on rapid recall/dial up.

Thorny Issues = Sweetness

Context and Perspective


There are a number of phrases that I use on a frequent basis when counselling; “Hmmmmmm”, happens to be my favourite, “that’s an interesting point”, “I wonder if there is another way to see that?”, “can you say a little more”, “what is the context for that” and “what is your perspective on these set of circumstances now?”

I am writing this blog to expand on the last theme which is that of context and perspective. I copied the two explanations from a word web app to broaden my understanding.

Context: Discourse that surrounds a language unit and helps to determine its interpretation. The set of facts or circumstances a situation or event.

Perspective: A way of regarding situations or topics, The appearance of things relative to one another as determined by their distance from the viewer, The technique of representing three dimensional objects on a two dimensional surface


I used the dual phrase (context and perspective) 1st a few months ago working with a client in private practice. We had come across a few repeating patterns in their life. These patterns had followed set ways of thinking feeling and behaving in the world that were as a result of earlier experiences. A thought struck me as we walked and talked that brought the frame of what was being discussed into bright focus.

I remember we were walking along a pebble path in sunlight in August, the aroma of blackberry’s perfumed the air. At the time of our meeting the sun was beginning it’s slow descent and the moment was framed by my clients words. They spoke about “always doing X and thinking X and that if X happened in this way then it meant that Y was surely to follow and…” I can remember that it occurred to me that we had spoken about some of these ideas before when we were working at my counselling space in Lee.


There was a moment when I thought about the 2 differing environments one was a room the other was outside in a park. The context upon our meeting was different and yet some of what was being discussed was similar to a previous conversation. What I had hoped to convey was that to alter the thought feeling and behaviours facing a set of circumstances, perhaps altering the way in which one approaches them can bring about change.

Interior Design

My 1st degree was in Interior design. I studied at De Montfort University and enabling the client to accept the vision of the designer was an idea I came to appreciate. Interior design helped me gain an understanding of seeing life, art and psychotherapy from a number of differing perspectives. So for me when I speak about perspective I am not speaking about near or far, here or there – more about a continuum of views.


Earlier in October 2015 I worked with a probation referral as a FMHP for Together. He told me of his difficulties managing loss, incarceration and not knowing of how to get his life back on track. He was able to outline some of the things he was hoping to achieve and again I was struck by this idea of context and perspective.

To support the process of what was happening for this client I wanted to share that I understood what had occurred in his life, but that the context had shifted considerably and that within his new frame the perspective on the past present and future could be greater/different. I took my time to explain what I meant in relaying information about context and perspective.

Life Review

What I like about these two ideas is their interrelation (how they connect) and that as two words they stand on their own. To place one’s life in context is to view how it is now, who is in it, and the things that are happening. Some attention could be spent reviewing the past in either a limited way: the past 6 months – 5 years or since birth.

Perspective invites individuals to get into a reflective space and note how life is. How life was and how they would like life to be in the future. Perspective is also seeing themselves from other peoples point of view. When discussing aspects of a person’s life whilst in this space the texture around the person I am working with appears to soften.

The aim of working with context and perspective is to develop ways with clients that promote forward movement or away from their current set of circumstances and approach a future that could be brighter.

4 thoughts on “Context and Perspective in Counselling work

  1. Is there a task that can be done individually, that will help me look at context and perspective?

    You end with could be brighter…but should the language be WILL be brighter as my understanding of what you said perspective is, is forward planning.


    1. I honestly thought that I had responded to you. I apologise for the over late response. I currently engage in a 6 stage meditation made popular by Vishen Lakhiani developer of meditation music. Vishen advises those that use this technique to imagine a light permeating their body and eventually expanding to fill the world. I push this expansion to the solar system, the milky way and then finally to engulf the universe. This practice gives me a useful perspective on the infinite.
      To contextualise experience again I would use Vishen’s 3rd and 4th stage of his technique where he invites the person meditating to ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness to those who have caused an uncomfortable feeling. Once a person can reflect on their involvement in a situation the focus becomes less about blame and more about getting it right. A podcast I listened to a few months ago called The Science of Success which looked at Unleashing the Power of Meditation offered a wonderful understanding in relation to forgiveness. The idea was ‘You forgive not for the other person, but to free yourself.’ This idea has taken a lifetime to sit right with me.
      The 4th stage of the meditation technique is about projecting oneself 3 years into the future and depicting what life looks like then, what is happening for you then. I’d also like to throw in that 3 years ago also looks different to now too. Would that not show context?
      Lastly with the idea of could be brighter or Will be brighter. The wishful content as opposed to the willful intent is a useful point, one over the other sounds iron clad rather than flexible and cloud like. In terms of planning perhaps intention offers a better result? I pass no judgement…


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