Live intentionally. Or; taking risks

There have been a lot of changes in my life recently, and a lot of challenges. Some of those challenges have been in group process, and some in my personal life. In group, and in my life, I have had to look hard at myself. As I was talking to my therapist the other day, I realised that I want my life to be about living intentionally, not about just passing through it. For me it means taking risks; telling people I care about them, rather than just assuming that they know. It means the same thing on my training course. If I ‘get’ what someone is saying in group, I need to tell them. If I don’t, i *also* need to tell them. There are times when that won’t need to happen; I’m not saying that I have to say everything that’s in my head, but the more I say, the less danger there is that someone will be missed (by me – at least). If I know (by their confirmation) that I get them, it has to be a better thing than me assuming I get them, and they don’t know if I do or not.

 

It was commented to me by my tutor, at my training course this weekend that I have had a much more expressive face recently. My therapist says that there is something that she cannot put her finger on about the change in the way I am. In client work, I am starting to put more of myself in to the work. I am traditionally VERY good at a poker face. In life, in counselling. On the one hand it’s great because it means that I don’t react visibly before I’ve had a chance to process. On the other hand, it means that my clients and my loved ones get less of me, because they have to work harder to know what I am thinking, and in my personal life where i’m not bound by congruence (which is one of my guiding principles in client work), it’s probably much harder than for clients, who aren’t really focused for the most part on what *i* think (although some are!).

 

Practically, it means actually reaching out to someone – periodically, if someone is in my thoughts, I will tell them. I don’t do it often. I only really talk with one person on my course, which feels strange, as i LIKE all the others too. So I’m resolved to change that (any one of you reading this, expect to hear from me at times!). It’s not a big thing, but it’s part of not being missed. Letting someone know I am thinking of them has to be a nicer thing than thinking that you are not thought of. I’m not limited in my ability to do it; I’ve just become lazy in my thinking.

 

In my personal life, I was talking over something with my primary partner about spending some time with a new person and she said ‘but we don’t spend enough time together’. In actual fact, we DO spend a lot of time together (most weekends, and an evening or two a week – around my placements and counselling), but where we used to make it intentional, now we are often just in the same place doing stuff. So we’ve created some intentional space with each other. We got lazy, and whilst it was fine because we got enough pockets of intention within all the default ‘togetherness’, the busier we get, the less availability there is for that.

 

I know that for different people, taking risks means different things, and some people are naturally more open with their thoughts and feelings (so this wouldn’t be hard), but for me, this will be a big ongoing challenge, where I have to intentionally do something. Either speak, or not speak, but either way, I need to look at what I am choosing to do, rather than just taking the easy option because I can.

This post is in memory of my dad who died very recently, and to whom some of this personal ‘living intentionally’ can be attributed.

 

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Trainees, do you need a mentor? Reasons why you might…

 

English: A new and emerging symbol for Polyamo...

English: A new and emerging symbol for Polyamory, non-monogamous relationships, and LGBTQ individuals. The box unfolding into an open heart represents “love outside the box”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since we launched the mentor list two weeks ago, the response from counsellors volunteering their services has been phenomenal. We have over 20 counsellors on the list so far, volunteering their services, covering almost every flavour of LGBTQI, poly, kinky, sex-positive, non-binary, and ethically non-monogamous.

 

So I am guessing that there are people reading this who might benefit from a mentor but are wondering if this is right for them, or what the point is. I wanted to point out a few places where it might be useful to have a mentor to go to. Some of these are my own experiences, some are based on others’ experiences.

 

Firstly, if any of the above identities fit with you (or you THINK they might) and you’re not out about them, then a mentor with experience in that area might be able to help. This has so far been the biggest request from trainees – it seems we most want to talk to people (so far) about how to manage our professional and personal identities; how out do we want to be, etc.

 

If you are out, and things might mostly feel ok, then you might wonder why a mentor would be helpful. Essentially, sometimes, it can be useful just to have the ear of someone who has passed through a similar situation with similar concerns. Someone who can understand when you say ‘it really makes me cross that everything on parenting covers ‘mother and father’ and there is no considering for same-sex parenting’, or ‘I have to explain my identity to my class before I can have a conversation about something important to me’.

 

Perhaps you’re poly or otherwise ethically non-monogamous and have heard the comment ‘greedy’ (see also ‘bi’). These may have been presented as jokes, but they hurt (they’re called microaggressions. If this has happened to you, look it up – you will find some useful stuff). Or you hear ‘I don’t understand how you can love more than one person (or have sex with more than one person)’ or ‘but isn’t that cheating?’

 

Perhaps you’re trans or non-binary and in your class you hear jokes about a ‘man in a dress’, or you’re out as trans/NB and often misgendered or misnamed. You may be lesbian gay or bi and hear ‘that’s gay’ as a derogatory comment. As an L or G person it’s directly insulting. As a B person it’s insulting and also depressing, because you’re invisiblised (I think I made that word up). You might be kinky and be hearing a LOT about 50 shades of grey right now, about how BDSM is abuse; that you cant consent to it, or that something is wrong with you if you like it – especially if you’re the dominant/top.

If any of these feel like you, click here to sign up for a mentor. You won’t have to wait more than a few days before I get back to you with someone relevant.

 

Cancelling clients

You’ve probably sat through a class or two talking about the need to have some kind of ‘counsellor will’ about what happens to clients if you die, etc. I’m not going to go in to that just now, but when I had to cancel clients at short notice, I realised that my data-keeping had slipped recently; new clients who weren’t yet added to the easy to get to places meant that I had to make more work for myself at a point when I needed to make less work for myself.

So it seemed opportune to have a post that said essentially: make note of the policies of your placements. Make sure you know who to get to if someone else does your cancelling for you. Double-check that their numbers are up to date in your info; make sure nothing has changed in your placement’s process in the months or years that you’ve been there – I know that at one of my placements, although the volunteer and paid counsellors do the same things, different people co-ordinate the different groups. It’s possible that people have joined or left and you’re not aware of a change in process because a memo has only gone to the paid counsellors, for example.

If you run your own service, make sure that you put your numbers and contacts in one handy place. Also, let them know at the start of their counselling with you: ‘if I have to cancel for any reason, these are the steps I will follow’. It’s easy to think that it won’t happen to you, and the longer you go without having to cancel, the more easy it is to become complacent about it. But it is at that point, when one has become complacent, that *something* will go awry in your life, leading to a last-minute cancellation and a flapping because that number is not where you thought it was. Lesson learnt!

LGBTQ+ (asexual, poly, kinky, etc) supervision

If you are looking for a/identify as an LGBTQ+ (asexual, intersex, genderqueer, poly, kinky etc supervisor), please complete this form. I’ll add you to the database and match you with individuals as they sign up. Please either copy and paste the information below into a comment or an email to me: rainbowoftranquility@gmail.com or complete the contact form, which does not appear on the webpage.

Do you offer internet-based (eg skype) supervision:

mentee

Trainee

If you’re a trainee looking for someone who’s qualified to talk to about the LGBTQIA+ (poly, kinky etc) things relevant to you on your course, please fill in the information below and leave it as a comment or email it to me: rainbowoftranquility@gmail.com

If you’re also looking for a supervisor, please give me a brief rundown of the information necessary (location/modality etc)

mentor

Do you identify as an LGBTQ+ or asexual, poly, kinky therapist (or senior trainee) who would like to be a mentor for trainees?

Please either copy and paste the information below into a comment or an email to me: rainbowoftranquility@gmail.com or complete the contact form, which does not appear on the webpage.

Therapist/senior trainee/supervisor

Calling LGBTQIA+ counsellors and trainees – mentor list

Rainbow flag.Trans flag.Leather flag.Bi flag.Asexual flag.Intersex flag. Genderqueer flag. Poly flag.Bear flag.
(I’m aware that I’ve missed some flags, and that some are more contentious than others, but I wanted to put up a selection)

 

Do you identify as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, genderqueer, pansexual, non-binary, asexual, intersex, polyamorous, ethically non-monogamous, kinky, or with some other alternative gender or sexual diversity? Are you a supervisor, therapist or a trainee?

As a psychotherapy trainee who identifies as queer, sometimes, I am glad of the opportunity to be able to talk with experienced therapists who identify in similar ways to me. I was recently at a Pink Therapy event and was part of a conversation where it was suggested that it might be a good idea to create some kind of mentor program to help trainees in similar positions. I’ve volunteered to organise it.

So,  for Pink Therapy I am co-ordinating a mentor scheme for those people who identify in the above groups (as well as others I haven’t listed here that are along similar themes – please let me know if I have missed yours out!). It will also hold supervisor details, so if you don’t wish to mentor but are willing to offer supervision, please also complete the form. This list is open to anyone working or training as a counsellor, psychotherapist (of any modality) or clinical or counselling psychologist.

 

If you’re in some way LGBTQIA or ‘beyond the rainbow‘ and are a qualified counsellor or counselling/clinical psychologist who could offer some advice/support to a trainee, or if you’re a trainee who could use some support from a qualified counsellor or clinical or counselling psychologist, or if you’re able to offer (or are looking for) supervision please go to this page to fill in the form that goes directly to me.

As a general rule it would probably be short-term via email, but it would be negotiable between you and the trainee/therapist you’re matched with.

 

I am maintaining two lists, one of mentors/supervisors and one of trainees. When trainees contact me with the type of person they feel they would benefit from talking to, I will send their email address to a relevant person and ask that person to get in touch. If you’re a ‘senior’ trainee (someone who feels they could mentor newer trainees), please feel free to ask to go on the mentor side. Click this link to get to the page with the relevant information or email me: rainbowoftranquility@gmail.com or leave a (screened) comment below.