People don’t often ask me what I like about counselling, but when they do, I get this vague uncomfortable feeling. I usually respond with the cliché response that I like seeing people make positive changes in their lives and increase their satisfaction with living. But what I really want to say is this: "Getting people to feel safe enough to talk about their most private aspects of their lives, their vulnerabilities…this is what really satisfies me.”
And the reason I don’t say this out loud very often is because when a counsellor/therapist connects on this level, it is a very intimate connection-not a connection the average person experiences very often. Few people talk this way even with their partners or close friends. It is scary and takes great courage.
Brene Brown, a renowned social worker from the United States, has become the guru of vulnerability. Through her academic training and her own therapeutic process, she has reframed vulnerability from an often shame-based emotion to a strong stepping stone to finding one’s strength and genuineness.
Psychologist, Arthur Aron (and others) have conducted studies that explore whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other specific questions (in 3 series, each more probing than the previous.) The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness just as Brene Brown has articulated.
Take a peek at a few of these questions.
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share _____.”
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
So whether you are just starting to date someone or are already in a committed relationship, try out
these questions…if you dare. See what you can learn about the other person. Grab a coffee or a
drink and make it a playful exercise.
For the complete list try:
But take note, the answers could bring you closer together, or maybe not. Because to be vulnerable is always a risk.
The 36 Questions That Lead to Love