|"Endings are an important and inevitable part of counselling and life in general. Endings are certainly a major feature in my life at the moment – I seem to be dealing with a lot of them" |
|"I’m working with a very troubled young woman at the moment at the college where I’m on placement. She has a very uneven idea of who she is and where she fits into society" |
|"We’ve always been told throughout the counselling course that the journey each of us will follow during training will change us" |
|"Something that has really struck me since I started my training is the distance I’ve come from my own first session with a counsellor to where I am today, working with clients on placement as part of my diploma studies"|
I recently attended the BACP student conference in York where the keynote speaker in the afternoon gave a really engaging talk based around the concept of using three words to describe your practice. This made me think about the three words I would choose to describe my practice and how it has evolved and developed throughout my training
In training – Three words say it all
I recently attended the BACP student conference in York where the keynote speaker in the afternoon gave a really engaging talk based around the concept of using three words to describe your practice. This made me think about the three words I would choose to describe my practice and how it has evolved and developed throughout my training.
My first word would be ‘resilience’. This has really been brought home to me since I started working with clients in my clinical placement. The issue of resilience weighed significantly on my mind in the run up to making the move into the placement: would I be able to hold whatever my clients brought to me? I also felt the weight of responsibility: it is a big deal for a client to talk to someone about their problems and you are the person to whom they tell it. I found it a real challenge to keep myself present in the session while weathering the deluge of pent-up feeling my very first client was sharing with me. He was also, I felt, testing me, making sure I was not only trustworthy but that I could handle what he was ready to share with me. But these initial, sometimes difficult sessions have shown me that I do have the resilience needed to be a counsellor. I was able to be real and honest, open and transparent, and so able to build a co-operative relationship with this client, despite (or perhaps because of) these early difficulties. As the speaker at the BACP conference said, you need to be brave enough to be yourself. My client recognised this resilience in me, and this gave him the courage to do some amazing work with me.
Second, I would choose ‘growth’. I came to training because I got so much from my own experiencing of counselling that I decided I wanted to move into the other chair. This was the start of my journey of personal growth. In the past I have often been my own worst enemy. I may have given off an air of confidence and strength, but it was a very different story inside. In my teens I battled with low self-esteem and body image issues; I was a victim of bullying at school for many years and I felt very alone, despite being in a crowd of friends. As much as I tried, I couldn’t deal with it on my own. Coming to that realisation led me to seek counselling, and to take a step back and look at myself and reassess. From that point on I have started to make changes and have come to appreciate that the process of personal growth is never ending and that it is a positive challenge to know myself and own my experiences, not a struggle.
My final word would be ‘faith’. By this I mean faith in myself but also faith in the counselling process. When I started my training I struggled a little to connect theory with practice. I really worried about how I could apply my learning in the classroom when faced with a client. We don’t all fit into tidy little boxes, do we? I also doubted that I would be good enough to support and work with people in a vulnerable and emotional state. One of my first clients had a problem with standing on her own two feet. She had been protected and cared for totally when growing up and was looking to me to wave a magic wand and make everything OK. I listened to her story and tried to help her stay in the here and now, to step outside herself and look at her life and her important formative experiences from a totally different angle. That was my first eureka moment. By using the tools I had learned, she was able to access a whole new perspective and move through things she previously thought insurmountable.
This, along with other experiences, has given me faith in myself and my abilities. I know that I can do this; I can be a good counsellor. But I also know that the skills I have spent so long learning can help my clients. Blind faith in the process is not enough; a real therapeutic relationship is built on knowing that the nuts and bolts and the practical application of the theory can do the job they were designed for.
The conference speaker used a wonderfully emotive quote that really rang true with me: ‘Hope is the ability to hear the music of tomorrow... Faith is the courage to dance to it today.’
But doubt is not a bad thing. I know I need that element of self-questioning to keep my feet on the ground in the real world. It stops me from distancing myself from my past and the issues that have formed who I am today and, most importantly, it stops me from distancing myself from my clients.