I’m a person-centred (trainee) therapist. To me, that means that I don’t rely on elaborate theories about the human condition; I rely ON the human condition. For me, it’s about communication (or not!) with the person sitting opposite me. Still, we have to do SOMETHING with our four-year MSc outside of the person-centred ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’, or it would be pointless, and so we do learn some theories from both our own, and other approaches (if just for information).
Recently I had a training weekend. I learnt a lot about shame – or so I thought, anyway. Shortly after that training weekend, I had a client who was talking about shame. It went like this:
Client: …shame… things.. shame
Me (in my head): Shame! client is talking about shame! I’ve just learnt shame! There are theories. What are those theories?
Client: Keeps talking
Me (in my head): Should have paid attention to those theories. what WERE they?
Client: Still talking
Me (in my head): Shut up brain, and LISTEN!
So, the theory (or at least the fact that I had been present for some doesn’t appear to have gone in. Perhaps I have shame issues and this is a defence. One to bring to my new therapist when I see her this week..) REALLY got in the way of listening to the client. Luckily for me, the interchange in my head just took a second or two before I was able to apply the OTHER bit of theory commonly referred to as ‘bracketing’ – where you recognise that the client has provoked something in you that is about YOU, not about THEM and you say ‘hello stuff, now please move over so I can listen to my client’.
Theory – it’s useful, but in small doses. Also, should have paid more attention in class.
Finally – finding an image for ‘shame’ or ‘preoccupation’ is hard! Have a cloud. It’s not mine, but if it was mine, the best I could do right now would probably be my cats, and the only thing they’re preoccupied with at present, is sleeping.
- “Blind Spots Most Therapists Share” (madinamerica.com)
- Should I try Counselling? Sometimes You Just Need a Good Listening-To… (knowledge-powerblog.com)
- Demystifying the process of change in Counselling- How you get better (psychologymatters.asia)
- What the Heck is Counselling All About?! (ppcsaskatoon.wordpress.com)