Skip to main content
  • General
  • Going Inside: An internal conversation . A new article by Mike Moss published in The Person-Centred Quarterly (Summer 2023)

Going Inside: An internal conversation . A new article by Mike Moss published in The Person-Centred Quarterly (Summer 2023)

MM Updated

Notice details

Person-Centred Quarterly Summer 2023 
  Going inside: an internal conversation Mike Moss This article first appeared in the December 2022 issue of Children Young People & Families published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
 Mike Moss imagines an unspoken conversation between his thoughts and those of a client, and considers the therapeutic value of what’s left unsaid 
In this article, I want to try and capture the essence of the internal conversation, made up of my thoughts as a counsellor and the imagined thoughts of the client, during a therapy session. Whether or not we choose to keep these thoughts inside, they provide meaning. This internal conversation is a brief glimpse into an imagined first counselling session with a young client. It is woven from a composite of many first sessions over many years. It is my intention that the reader will be able to reflect on their own internal conversations and what they choose to share or keep inside. 
Client: I can see you looking at me. I want to get the words out right. I feel a bit scared meeting you for the first time. It’s not easy to tell you about myself and my life this way. Most adults don’t really listen. They say they do, but they have lots of ideas about how things should be for me. I am just trying to manage things by myself, as best I can. They say they want to help but always say too much; always tell me what to do, what to think. And then they say I am not helping the situation. What situation? Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense. Like when they say they love me but don’t love my behaviour. I don’t like my behaviour sometimes. I am not proud of some of the things I’ve done, but it’s hard to change. I don’t know how. I don’t know anything, sometimes. It’s so confusing. What does it all mean anyway? What’s the point? Why am I here? Why am I actually here? 
Counsellor: I wonder what you are thinking. I can see you looking at me and I want to get my words right, to get as close to what I am thinking and feeling and what you might be thinking and feeling so we can communicate clearly. I feel a little nervous meeting you for the first time. I am really interested in what you are thinking and what you are telling me, and hope you can see I am not judging you. I am really trying to understand you. I genuinely want to get it right. I see you are taking your time to talk to me and that it’s not easy for you. I think you are brave. You seem to want to let me know you are angry and that you are also OK and not really bothered and that you are sad sometimes. 
Client: Oh no, you are talking about feelings and all that stuff. It seems like you know how I feel. It’s freaky. How do you know? You are making me remember how I feel. I can’t go there. I just can’t. I don’t know how to talk about how I feel. I will run away or die before I go there. I will just ignore you. I can’t look at you now. It’s weird, this stuff. I have never been able to sit and feel something like this with anyone. It’s embarrassing. You must think I’m crazy. I don’t even know if I want to see a counsellor. Maybe you are trying to trick me. Maybe you know more than you are saying. You’ve been speaking to my mum or something... or maybe you are for real. I don’t know. 
Counsellor: I notice you are looking at your shoes. I will take a breath here and pause. I want to acknowledge this is difficult for you, for both of us. I know it must be strange talking about things that have happened in your life. It feels important to be here just now, quietly and gently, and not to try and fill the space too quickly. I can imagine it’s not been easy to talk to anyone about what’s going on inside when it all feels so difficult. I don’t want to push too hard. Maybe you are pushing yourself too hard. You are here and I am here. This feels like a good start. I want to tell you I think everyone carries an invisible bag of worries. Some are heavier than others. Sometimes we see people walking around with their heads down and it looks like they are carrying a full bag. Counselling is a bit like imagining putting your bag of worries on the floor between us. I invite you to open it slowly and then put your hand gently in the bag. It might be there is something you touch and you don’t know what it is yet. We can have a look together and see what it is. You can put it back, or throw it away if you don’t need it. I remember someone once asked if there was a bin to put the things in that they didn’t want. We visualised the kind of bin, the colour, the size. Or there might be something you take out of the bag and put back quickly, maybe even push right to the bottom, as you don’t want anyone to see it. Or you might bring something out and feel ready to think about it, and we can just hold it and maybe talk about it together. I will ask you to imagine what you might feel like afterwards, and you might say you feel a bit lighter. And I will say that’s what counselling is and you will laugh and it feels like the most wonderful invitation for us to meet this way and I will laugh too. 
Client: I can’t believe I just laughed – it’s weird – and you laughed too. This is crazy, but it was a nice feeling. I couldn’t control it; it just came out. It seems so different here. I feel a bit more relaxed. I can breathe now. I like the story about the bag and the bin. I think my bag is extra heavy. It sucks. 
Counsellor: It was nice to laugh together. It feels like something in the air has cleared. I have let you know a bit more about counselling and what I can offer. I am not as nervous now. I want to let you know I am here for you. I want to say it’s OK. I want to say you are the most incredible person, right here, right now, just being with all the stuff you have to be with. And I want to let you know I am OK here too. I have gone inside myself a little bit and it is helping me to connect to part of you. I want to help. I want to go at your pace. I want to try and understand as best I can what it’s like being you. I notice it seems hard for you to talk about some things just now, and I am curious about other parts of your life. I know what’s on your referral. I have read about you being angry with your parents and that you have been self-harming and tried to kill yourself. Maybe that laugh was important for both of us to break the ice. We have shared something here. I feel more relaxed now. I wonder what you are passionate about and what you think about when you look up at the stars at night. 
Client: I can’t believe you told me you were feeling more relaxed now. So am I. It’s strange. I’m talking about my favourite music and you seem like you’re interested. I don’t think you really like my kind of music. It’s cool though. I like you asking me about it. I love that I was able to play you a song on my phone and you seemed to really listen, and you spoke about what it reminded you of and asked what it reminded me of. I also want to tell you I like dolphins and I loved drawing at primary school, but don’t draw much now. Maybe I will let you know how I wanted to be an artist. I can see what you’re doing. You’re asking about the things I like so we can talk. It’s weird to talk about this when I am in school. Maybe I will be able to tell you how I cut myself and how most days I want to die and how I hate myself. Maybe, but not just now as I don’t like talking to anyone about those things. 
Counsellor: I wonder where you went just then. It was as if you had a big thought that took you somewhere else. I will let you know I noticed and was wondering what you might be feeling. I will ask if you would like to come back for another counselling session. 
Client: I want to see you again. You say you can work with me for as long as I need counselling, which is great. I have agreed to see you for six sessions and then we can review or something. It’s amazing. You said you had a present for me. I didn’t believe it. You took out this little bag of stones and asked if I liked crystals. I love crystals. You invited me to take one. You said some people believe the crystals choose you. You said the one I chose was called rose quartz and that some people think it can help with self-care and self-love, and you were giving it to me as a gift. I have crystals in my bedroom that my mum gave me. They’re nice. It’s weird though, you gave me a crystal and now I am thinking about my mum. 
Counsellor: I notice you are holding the little rose quartz and rolling it in your hand as you start to talk about your mum and how you miss your grandmother so much since she died. This feels sad. As you talk about how you wish things were different, I notice some tears in your eyes and notice some tears in mine. You seem to be experiencing your feelings inside you, and I am experiencing my feelings inside me. I am also trying to be with your feelings too, and we seem close right now. It’s good to be here inside ourselves and also be together. I look forward to getting to know you more and hope I can be of help. I will see you next week. 
Final reflection In closing, I like to imagine that this internal conversation could have been a transcript of an actual session, where our internal thoughts and feelings become external. I have found that what starts as thoughts inside can help me to connect better to myself and to my clients, in meaningful ways. I become transformed when I trust myself to step from being in[1]side and become more authentic outside, and when I trust that my words will convey my thoughts. Every counselling conversation is more than the words spoken aloud, it is also about the therapist going inside and acknowledging the therapeutic value of the internal conversation. 
Mike Moss is a BACP registered counsellor and supervisor. He has worked in voluntary and statutory roles with children and young people and their families for nearly 40 years in youth and social work and is currently employed as a school counsellor and supervisor. He has had articles published on the therapeutic relationship and presented his work at national and international conferences. Mike has a small private practice offering counselling supervision and training in Edinburgh and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.