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“Exposure Counselling”—A Way 
to Access Big Feelings

My grandfather passed away recently, and it has been wonderful to have the resources of Co-Counselling to help me look at, and work through, the grief that has been coming up. His death sits on top of a number of other deaths of people close to me, many of which happened in my late teens and early twenties and which have not yet been fully discharged (or even close to that). However, it feels like the biggest loss I’ve experienced to date, not just because my grandfather was an incredible man who touched the lives of many but because he was the sole person in my life who never let me down1 and always showered me with love.

Suffice it to say, I miss him dearly and not a day goes by when he doesn’t come into my thoughts. That said, discharging the big feelings of loss and grief has become more difficult in the past few weeks. At first the feelings were so raw and the support from my Co-Counselling network so great that I was having lots of big sessions. But after a few weeks, when society seemed to be sending me the message “You should be all right now. It’s time to move on with your life,” I noticed it being harder to access the feelings. Also, that little bit of time had taken me further from the rawness of the loss.

I was determined to keep looking at the grief head-on, so I decided to try something that I am now calling “exposure counselling.” I took one of my Co-Counsellors with me to have a session at my grandfather’s apartment—the place where he had lived my whole life and which was full of wonderful memories. This worked a treat.2 Being in the apartment without him in it (and seeing things in boxes and some furniture missing) conjured up many feelings, and I was able to have a big session. I went back again last week, to the then completely empty apartment, and had an even bigger session—finally discharging an early hurt that I had never managed to work on so clearly. I am going to continue to take advantage of this setup until the apartment is no longer accessible to me.

It’s scary going for3 this “exposure counselling,” as I know it’s going to bring up big feelings, but I would highly recommend it. I’m sure there are plenty of places to which we can take our Co-Counsellors—places where we experienced hurts as little ones—such as our preschools and primary schools and the houses we grew up in. I am adding this to my list of Co-Counselling tools and invite you to do the same.

Nicola Ossher
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

1 “Let me down” means failed to support me.
2 “Worked a treat” means worked very well.
3 “Going for” means pursuing.

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