In The Longest Journey: finding the true self, Amanda Stuart describes how clients, men and women, addressed a range of difficulties, including anxiety and depression. Invariably when clients seek counselling, it is apparent that old wounds — neglect, hurt and anger — are at the heart of the presenting problem, sometimes decades later. The author decided to write The Longest Journey to highlight the effect of old, suppressed pain.
She interviewed a number of ex-clients to understand what had changed for them as a result of seeking counselling. Many clients then chose to write their own story. Their experiences include sensitive issues such as a parent’s suicide and physical and sexual abuse, topics that are still taboo in our society.
Clients were aware of significant change. They were happier and felt more fulfilled in their lives. Relationships with partners were generally easier and more satisfying. On re-reading his story, Patrick, a man in his late thirties, said: ‘I’m blown away. Looking back on my time in counselling I can see how much I’ve changed. Others have seen it in me too.’
The Longest Journey also encourages parents to understand their child’s feelings from a young age.
Since training as a counsellor and psychotherapist, Amanda Stuart has worked with individuals, couples and families. She encourages her clients to use their creativity as a means to healing pain, whether through writing, drawing, painting or music. Exploring clients’ dreams is a significant part of her work, leading clients to a richer understanding of their emotional life.