|"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" |
|"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"|
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
In training - And now, the end is near...
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.
This will be my final column for Therapy Today. I have enjoyed writing these columns and will miss it. Writing them, together with my own reflection and supervision, has formed a sort of ‘holy trinity’ that has really helped my practice to grow and develop. The feedback from my peers and others who have read my articles has also given me a boost – a little affirmation is always a good thing!
I am also coming to the end of my training. After three intense years with the same group of people, I am going to find this ending difficult. Counselling training is unlike any other form of learning; you share and learn so much from the other members of the group – things that you may not have expressed and shared with anyone anywhere else before. I have learned so much about myself from these people; we have grown and blossomed together under the tutelage of our lecturer. I owe them a debt of gratitude for their help and support and the knowledge they have shared with me.
It has been invaluable to hear about others’ experiences of practice placements, the problems that they have faced and how they have dealt with them and their experiences of working in different settings. These people have become more than just fellow students; they have become friends who know me in a unique way. The trust between us has been palpable and to have to say goodbye to them and to what has become a familiar, comfortable and safe environment will be hard. Some of us are setting up a professional development group to continue that contact and support as we move out into the post-qualification world.
This ending has obvious parallels with the ending of the relationship between counsellor and client. I now, more than ever, appreciate the sadness and sense of loss that can come with that.
Another major loss is my job. Yes – like so many other people in Britain right now, I’ve just been made redundant. I can’t say I was surprised – it’s happening throughout the Further Education sector, mainly due to government cuts in FE funding. But that hasn’t made it any easier to deal with. It’s partly a loss of control, and control has always been a issue for me.
It isn’t all bad. I was already contemplating making the move into counselling employment so the (albeit enforced) opportunity to take this step into fresh territory is also exciting. But it’s inevitably a little scary. At least I am now equipped to look for counselling work. But it hasn’t been easy coming to terms with redundancy. I am experiencing a loss of role – something that will be familiar to anyone who has counselled people through job loss and unemployment.
I didn’t expect to be doing this job for the rest of my life, but it has been a major part of my everyday existence for the past three years and I have had some fantastic times and have worked with some wonderful people. To say goodbye to them, and to everything that the role itself gave me (validation, a sense of competence, efficacy, achievement, income…) is painful. My safety net has been torn away – financial, of course, but also emotional and psychological; it has felt like being thrown into free-fall.
Something that I use a lot with my clients when we are approaching the end of our sessions together is to acknowledge it is an ending, with all the sadness that brings, but also that it is a ‘jumping off’ point. All my work with clients has been time-limited, so both of us know when the ending is going to come. But I have found that introducing the notion of the ‘jumping off’ point can help clients make positive use of endings to explore beginnings. This isn’t an ending, full stop; it’s the threshold to a whole new world, and we can then explore where they might go next, what they can move on to and what they might want to work on in the future.
And, by applying this to my own situation, I have found that I can slow that sense of headlong free-fall into a controlled descent, with me pulling the strings and directing (admittedly within the dictates of wind speed and direction or, to pursue the metaphor, the job market and competition) where I land.
This is Marc’s last column