Sarah Luczaj: Introducing Myself

My name is Sarah Luczaj, I’m a counsellor/therapist (and also poet and translator) from England. I have been living and working in Poland for ten years — the time for one daughter to grow as tall as she is now, for the other to be born (a year ago), for as many snowy winters and hot thundery summers as can be counted on the fingers of my two hands.

I was born in 1970 in Somerset, leaving at the age of eighteen to work as a carer on the Isle of Wight, to spend time with my friends in France, to hitchhike in a summer from the north of Scotland to the Sahara desert in Morocco, then to read English literature at the University of East Anglia. This is where I first met with Person Centred Therapy, in the client’s chair. The gift I received there, a true, creative, spontaneous human relationship simultaneously held by boundaries and totally freed from the limitations of relationships I had previously experienced, seemed to be something contagious, something which needed to be passed on. After a few more years of travelling, writing, living and loving in a somewhat rootless way, I signed up for a counselling course. After a year of training in the UK, I found myself permanently living in Poland, married my husband, had a baby, struggled with the seemingly impenetrable world around me, the winters, the language, the Fiat 126, the little wooden cabin without running water, the pressures of an overwhelmingly religious and family oriented culture.

I am now a therapist — after a counselling skills certificate and a certificate in Therapeutic Counselling I obtained my diploma at the University of East Anglia, in Person Centred Counselling. My meeting with the work of Carl Rogers was a quiet revelation, that of re-discovering a familiar truth, which I was not aware of having forgotten. Here was someone who spoke simple, quiet sense about relationships and what heals. That what heals is a combination of things, of being listened to and heard, by someone who makes the space in themselves in which to do so, of being accepted and not judged, by someone who is not making an effort to be superhuman but who has examined where their own judgements come from and no longer needs to make them, or knows what to do when they arise, that what heals is just to be present with another person who is fully present.

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The work of Gene Gendlin (most of it freely available on www.focusing.org) was my next major influence. He investigated the difference between clients for whom therapy ‘worked’ and those for whom it didn’t. It turned out those who were touched by, or who used therapy, were those who had a special kind of awareness of themselves. He devised, or rather uncovered, a method of finding this awareness in and through the body, called focusing. This made explicit the way I always make decisions, from a kind of sense within my body.

Buddhist meditation has also been present for me at varying distances over the years, representing for me the same basic truth that person centred theory does — that the selves we identify with are in a sense fictitious, that there is a space inside us which is basically good, the buddha nature.

I have experience working as a volunteer counsellor in the rural area in which I live, in a women’s centre which is seen as such a threat to the close knit community that it has undergone persecution from the police, who are attempting to close it down. My client files disappeared, with all their stories of violence and sexual abuse of women and children, the perpetrators often important players in the community. I now work in private practice, in my own Polish, which is a language unto itself. I have begun a PhD on the concepts of no-self in counselling and Buddhism, and how this feeds through language.

I am looking forward to commenting on issues that come up in my life and in the events going on around us. I hope my perspective on things as a counsellor, woman, mother, outsider, writer and all the other labels which I apply to myself will help sometimes to open up that space inside which is, at the end of the day, what matters.

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