The Counselor as Bagpiper 

An effective counselor can be compared in some ways to a skillful player of the bagpipes. The bagpipes, as you probably know, are an ancient wind instrument that occurs in many cultures, the best known being the Scottish one. The pipes have several drone pipes, that is, pipes that play one note consistently, steadily, all the time, and on this background, one single pipe with finger holes in it (called the chanter) which plays the melody. Most of the skill of the piper is expressed through the chanter, and anyone who can blow can fill the bag with air and allow the drones to sound, although there may be more fine points to that part than I am aware of. The drone pipes playing steadily all the time are a very important part of bagpipe music.

I would propose that the counselor consider herself or himself as having at least seven drone pipes attached to his or her counseling bagpipe and make sure that these are all working and in tune before attempting to use the chanter. The chanter’s melody would be the specific skill, the flexible, individual, fresh approach to contradicting the client’s distress and allowing him or her to discharge well.

Any good counselor should have drone attitudes operating toward the client at all times of (l) approval, (2) delight, (3) respect, (4) confidence in, and for, the client, (5) high expectations of the client (this means relaxed high expectations and not anxious pressure), (6) commitment to the client, and (7) love to and of the client.

When these attitudes are steady toward the client, then the melody of the chanter, that is the counselor’s flexible aware intelligence seeing exactly what the distress is, thinking how to contradict it and then contradicting it effectively, are reinforced by these consistent attitudes and “the sweetest music this side of complete re-emergence” will take place. The client will not only have lots of discharge and a wonderful session, but will make decisive steps towards his or her re-emergence.

 Harvey Jackins

Appeared in Present Time No. 48


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00