Day 3 and it was my turn to be the counsellor in our quad. Just as well – I knew it was inevitable that I would eventually have to do it so I had a fairly restless sleep last night in anticipation of how I’d go putting our newly learnt skills into a practical, “real life” situation. All went well and my observer was very “gentle” and constructive in their feedback to me.

Lots of new things to think about and ruminate on in my learning, ongoing development and future application of these counselling skills, particularly when applied within the field of Art Therapy.

It was particularly interesting to ponder the values that underpin my world view and my view of the HUMAN CONDITION. This hit home, specifically when considering beliefs which a client might bring along in opposition to or in conflict with my own, and which would present as internal imbalance (bringing about a sense of “emotional and ethical labyrinthitis”) when walking the therapeutic pathway.

Here’s 10 points – thoughts, observations and quotes – that have resonated with me on Day 3:

“In the intial stages we’re really trying to use language all the time that shows the client we’re focussing on them”.
“All of what we say to our client is heard but not all that we say is necessarilly responded to”.
At times one needs to give an “invitation” to the client to say more…
Often the process of undergoing counselling is one of the few situations where one finds opportunity and receives permission to talk to one’s self about one’s self; to be heard and to hear; to think over and learn more about one’s self…
Active listening is a “dynamic process”
Counsellors are only in the client’s life for a “slice” of the client’s life. This “slice of life” may be seen in a range of situations, including “a slice”:
within the client’s overall history
within the regular day-to-day, week-to-week events of the client’s everyday life
within the overall whole experience of the client’s being and psychological development
within the myriad of influences having affect on the client at given point of time
Sometimes it is necessary to “take a walk around the landscape” (of what the client is presenting – the family; the situation; the feelings; etc)
Is it possible to capture or distill your own experiences in such a way that they can be offered to and taken up by the client, or is there no place for this in the person centred model?
When the client is metaphorically “stuck under a stormcloud” and can’t see their way out of the situation it’s not so much a matter of handing them an umbrella or pushing them into the sunshine or the protective shelter of a tree, as it is showing them that there is an umbrella, some sunshine, or a sheltering tree and allowing them to acknowledge that and decide which, if any, is the best place for them to be…
Sometimes it’s not a single issue that is causing the sense of being overwhelmed or drowning, so much as a whole conglomeration of issues that are overshadowing and making it pretty much impossible for one to know where to start “dealing” with the therapeutic process. It may be necessary to pick one to tackle in order to realise empowerment and progress within the situation. Even if it is only a small amount, it will be enough to start with.

Guest post courtesy of Colin Read,

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