I wanted to share a brief reflection on a book I read recently for my Advanced Counseling Skills & Strategies class, The Man with the Beautiful Voice: And More Stories from the Other Side of the Couch by Lillian Rubin. This book was very well-received by my class; one fellow student even shared that she couldn’t help wanting to HUG it as she read!
The Man with the Beautiful Voice is an honest book in which seasoned therapist Lillian Rubin takes us into “the experience from the other side of the couch” to share the struggles, joys, and realities of counseling. Each chapter walks through a summary of her work with a specific client. There is a focus throughout her different case narratives on countertransference—what’s going on inside the counselor as he/she reacts to the client—and how to make use of the countertransference reaction by analyzing these personal feelings as they arise. There is also a theme of vulnerability throughout the book. Rubin doesn’t pretend to have all of the answers and even admits to feeling overconfident in her abilities at times. Finally, Rubin emphasizes therapy as an art and expertise that counselors improve upon primarily through practice—and not simply through reading books.
As I took in each one of the client examples, I found myself realizing that even making what may seem like mistakes could still be a part of the changing process for a client. If you believe in God’s power over all, it’s helpful to remember that he has control over counseling situations ultimately and in fact, will even choose to make use of our countertransference, errors, different personalities, and developing skills to make an impact.