I was going to do a recap on the little of the conference I was able to attend, but I’ve just reached the mid-point in my training, and as that’s most present in my mind, that’s what I’ll be talking about. Conference recap next week!
So – half way. Kind of. Half way through uni classes. 2/3 of the way through this format (weekend meeting for 3 or 4 days at a time) and 1/3 of my way through cinical hours (at least in terms of dates – I’m behind in my hours).
Where am *I*?
I struggle with my course, a lot. I haven’t yet written about it here, because a lot of it seems to be relevant to me as an individual in particular, rather than me as a trainee in general. I’m also aware that my classmates read this (some of them, anyway) and I would suspect that some of my tutors do (some of those know I’m having a hard time also), and I don’t want to upset anyone, or come across as any kind of ‘passive-aggressive’.
I have spent the last three workshops pondering whether I was going to withdraw at the end of this year, for a year out. I’ve decided not to – at least for now.
Training has been far harder than I thought it would be. I feel like somewhere along this course, I have lost myself. I am full of theory, and knowledge about what a person-centred counsellor ‘does’ (or you know, ‘doesn’t do’). This recent weekend we had a conversation with our trainer who was talking about the ‘rules’ and his comment was along the lines of ‘who says you have to follow’the rules’?’ In some ways, I think it’s a fair point. In others, I suspect that *breaking* those (often unspoken) rules would soon land me in trouble with my supervisor. In losing myself, I’m aware that I am clinging tighter to the me that’s left. Don’t get me wrong, I don’tmind this losing myself in part – I have faith that somewhere along the line, I will find me. But it is disconcerting.
I don’t feel like I fit. Generally, I spend a lot of time feeling like a fish out of water; wanting to challenge things, wanting people to see a different side of things. I suspect this stems from having to be more critical of things in my general life; I was at a wedding yesterday. Someone I care about was making a ‘backs against the wall, lads’ joke. He did it without thinking, and with no malice intended. And that’s the problem.It was done without thinking and with no malice. That makes challenging it much harder (I didn’t) than if it was maliciously directed at me; but perpetuating that stereotype, that way of thinking is insiduous and also dangerous. I make these choices (to challenge or not) almost on a daily basis throughout all of my life. I think that I hoped that my training environment would be different and there is certainly a higher level of awareness and that’s great. But I still feel like I stick out somewhat when I challenge. Or when I don’t, but it seems like I am the only person who thinks it should be challenged. I accept and understand that there are areas that my classmates might have that are the same – where *I* am the person not doing ‘the right thing’, and I would love to learn more about that, but at present, I’m a bit of a sore thumb, in training at least.
The question then, is ‘do I want to be a sore thumb for another two years?’
In my everyday life, I have friends both online and offline who are part of ‘my’ community and who have a shared experience to a greater or lesser degree. I work alone (in that I am the only person who does my job and my boss works in a different office to me) so I don’t really come across it there, and I am about to change job (in actual fact, I’m starting a phd) with LGBT-related issues. My therapist is queer also. I’m so grateful for that. I’ve been through two other therapists in two years, and I chose them (rather than go to my current therapist) because I wanted that other experience. It was somewhat disastrous for me. Therapy now, feels somewhat like ‘coming home’. There is something in the quality of being met at *my* level that I haven’t experienced with my other counsellors (and believe me, I wanted to – they were somewhat cheaper than my current therapist! They didn’t in the end, prove to be ‘cost-effective’, however).
I was hoping I would get that in my course, and there have been moments of that, and this feels very ‘doom and gloom’. In truth it has not been all (or even ‘mostly’) bad, but it has worn on me. I am currently sitting with a big part of my identity that is unacknowledged within my class by and large. I have referenced it, but I’m not sure it’s been noted by anyone. In staying, I feel like I have no option but to ‘out’ myself next year (I have been in so many cloests that it’s not true…). I don’t want to. I don’t want no reaction, because that will mean I haven’t been received, but I don’t want a negative reaction either, so it feels like 2/3 of the possible reactions are negative. So I have that to go back to. I don’t know if these reactions are inside me, or outside. This is a bit of the problem with losing myself.
As a therapist – how have I improved? Well, I’m less nervous. I started my own counselling placement, and it has grown enough that I have asked another counsellor to work with me. I do two days, she does one. As a service we aren’t full, but we have 7 clients between us, with another three possibles on the horizon (which would then make us almost full). I have much less in my head about what to ‘do’, and I trust the therapy process a bit more. I know more now, what is ‘my’ response, and what is a true reflection. My clients tell me that their therapy is helpful, and that pleases me. I know that it is them doing the work; what their comments tell me is that i am not *negatively* impacting on them (or not much, at least!)
As a person? My partner tells me that I am more open to people now. That I don’t jump to sarcasm as fast as I used to. That I am more open to other points of views. I see this for myself – I used to be very definite about the views I had, and now I am much more likely to actively consider several views. I listen more. i *hear* more.
As a student? No idea. I have no idea if I’m improved or not. This is another one of my ‘lost’ problems, and I’m not going in to it here.
One thing that hasn’t changed for me is the knowledge that I definitely want to qualify. I have more of an idea of the client mix that I would like and I can see that having more clients would help me to be the counsellor/psychotherapist that I want to be.
I think this post is possibly the most confused one that I’ve ever written. It’s not altogether unhappy, but it possibly has more of me than most if not all of my posts so far.
Question for anyone who has got this far (and a medal!): If you experience a difference between yourself and your classmates (race, sexuality, disability, mental health diagnosis, class, etc), what is that like?