When you think of the word unfold, what pops into your head? Clothes that slip and slide upon themselves and never look neat? The letter you tri-fold that keeps opening as you look for an envelope? The plot of a thriller – movie or book? A blossom in the garden or the origami cranes with loose creases? To me the word unfold represents the unbidden, the unexpected and the unplanned. Unfold is the gift of a call from a friend, the spontaneous invitation for fun in a moment of loneliness. Unfold represents what happens when we do not plan, we do not anticipate and we do not avoid. Unfold is powerful.
Mostly, we scurry around anticipating and solving problems before they even exist. Unfold can be the invitation for learning and being without planning. Unfold becomes the adventure that happens when we open ourselves to others, to experiences, to life. Unfold can be a guiding principle – to be used most times and held back when practical matters dictate…the mortgage payment, the exam, the doctor’s visit.
How does unfold relate to counseling? Sometimes we just have to see what happens. Sometimes we need to trust that things will turn out for the best, and that relinquishing the grasp of control and machination helps things to right themselves. Things turn out the way they need to…that sometimes life manages quite nicely by itself.
Clients will come in and express a desire for things to be a certain way. Certain expectations and rants are believed to be the catalyst to get results. What is interesting to me is that later clients will come back and report a different result than what they planned, and yet they will say that things turned out for the best. There seems to be an acceptance and genuine liking of the outcome. They communicate a firm belief that it is “what should have happened.” The most awe-inspiring thing to me is that clients will describe feeling peaceful, their angry side vanquished. They become more generous in their spirit, they forgive, and they display empathy and compassion. They turn an enemy into a peer. Their husband becomes the boy they fell in love with. The grouchy father becomes the man who guided with strength. The meddling mother becomes the woman who cared so deeply.
Unfold becomes the journey, unfold becomes the solution, unfold becomes the ticket to adventure. Can you, in your counseling relationships invite the word unfold?
Kathy Renfree is a counselor in a community mental health setting, teaches in a graduate counseling program as needed, and is looking forward to building a private practice.