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About Val

The Three Cairns approach

What to expect



Val Freeman

Registered Member
MBACP (Accred)

07582 160 516

Official logo of Val Freeman as an Accredited Counsellor of the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy)

The Three Cairns approach

A cairn is a Scottish word for a pile of stones gradually assembled by pilgrims on a journey. As each pilgrim reaches a landmark point they place a stone on the pile where others have done the same, and over time it becomes a cairn. Three cairns that clients commonly reach during therapy relate to feeling, meaning and movement.

Val walking in the woods

Cairn 1: Feeling

One cairn along the way is that of acknowledging and expressing your feelings. Taking time to look at what's been going on for you and admitting it, while often hard, can be a great relief. Depending on your preference, I find that a mixture of talking things through, writing and other creative techniques can really help you connect with your emotions, understand them and find some lasting healing.

Cairn 2: Meaning

Another cairn is that of searching for and creating meaning in your life, as well as finding patterns in your experience that help make some sense of how you have arrived where you are today. Sometimes in climbing towards this cairn there is a moment of clarity where something from your past suddenly throws light on your current dilemma, and again this new self-awareness can help you become freer and more able to make your own unique choices.

Cairn 3: Movement

Expression, searching for meaning, growing in self-awareness... it's all heading towards the third cairn, which is one that you might find surprisingly pragmatic. This is where you've been working through an issue, facing up to your feelings about it, gaining some understanding about how you might have developed it and now you are more equipped to make some choices. The third cairn is where you may choose to tweak or entirely overhaul one or more of your patterns in the expectation that this will open up a new way for you.

Three Cairns Counselling
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