Will you be a guest blogger?



Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So, this blog has been going almost a year now. I can’t quite believe it. One post a week, and on all but one occasions, it went out on time!


Something that I wanted to do at the start of this blog was to have guest bloggers, but I couldn’t do it before I had somehow shown myself to be viable. The blog now has over 70 followers that I can count and I know that more people read in RSS feeds etc (mostly because I get comments elsewhere, like facebook from people who aren’t listed as followers).


What I would like to do, is to have one guest blog post a month and I am asking EVERYONE reading this to consider volunteering. Whoever you are, it can be as anonymous as you like – from your fullname/age/location to ‘guest blogger X’



Are you just about to start your first year? Mid-way through training? Something you love about training, or the person-centred approach? Something you hate, or just can’t get your head around? What made you decide to become a trainee? What sort of client group do you love the most? What format is your course? why did you choose it? What do you love (or hate) about the format? Embarking on your research project and want to share something about it with us?



What differences do you see in trainees today, and when you were training? Do you have any trainee therapists and thus words of wisdom to share from that angle? Is there anything you wish you’d known/wisdom you would like to pass on to today’s trainees? Why have YOU chosen the person-centred approach? Has your understanding changed through your work as a counsellor? Are you a just-qualified counsellor and wanting to share about that?



What are the most common things that trainees come to you with? What made you decide to become a supervisor? What are your words of wisdom for choosing a supervisor?



What do you love about being a trainer? What made you decide to be a trainer? Have you worked across different insitutions? What do you think is important when being a trainer? Do you train in something not normally seen in person-centred insitutions (whether it’s part of the ‘tribes’ or not) that you’d like to share about?


Providers/partakers of useful and interesting resources:

Do you run a resource? A forum? A database of useful information? Do you run a peer-support group, or are you part of a person-centred group that you’d like to share? What’s good about it? Are you part of a great group, whether ‘virtual’ or ‘face-to-face’ that you think people should know about?


If you fit ANY of these, and if you don’t, but you have something you’d like to say, please get in touch. My usual blog posts are about 500 words (which this should come in at) but there’s no limit. As I said – you can be as anonymous as you like – leave me a comment (all comments are screened, so your contact details won’t go public unless you mention in your comment that they can) and I’ll get back to you.


What would you like to add?



Be a radical


the written word

the written word (Photo credit: paloetic)

I have an essay due. I’ve sort of written it, but it is, for me, contentious. I am arguing against, or maybe for (I’ve talked myself into and out of my arguments a couple of times) something generally accepted without critical evaluation. I’m not going to go into the argument itself right now, but in order to help support my argument I am opening with a case study that is extreme and confronting.


And then in my head, i think ‘what if it’s too radical?’ and that’s immediately followed by the thought ‘if I can’t be a radical as a student, when CAN i be a radical?’ which again is followed by ‘I don’t want to fail my essay!’ But then I decided that as long as I hit my ‘aims’ (I really should double-check those!) I *should* in theory be able to write an essay as radical as I wish.


It reminds me of when I was an undergraduate. In my final-year abnormal psychology exam, we had a question about ‘borderline personality’ as a diagnosis. It spoke to my inner feminist, and my entire essay was about the overdiagnosis in women as a method of ‘taming’ them, when the same symptoms in men are accepted as entirely standard in men. I then went off into a segue into schizophrenia diagnoses and race (leaving aside the issue of diagnosis in the first place). It was all referenced and sourced, and apparently, something went right in that exam – I came out with a mark in the high 80s. It was a risk for me, although I’m sure that it was not the most radical essay my professors had ever seen, just like I’m sure that this essay (which will also be wonderfully referenced) won’t be the most radical my tutors have ever seen. It will however, be one of the best-referenced essays ever, so that no-one can say ‘where’s your evidence?’.


But still, it’s a risk. I don’t always get the marks I’d like to get, and in many ways, that speaks to me of being more cautious. But again – if you can’t be a radical when you’re a student, when can you be a radical? Rogers was a radical. We have a whole therapy system based on his then-radical ideas. If he was a ‘run of the mill’ thinker, I’d be studying some other type of therapy (and whilst in many ways that would be great, I kind of like this one a lot!). My point is – be a radical. You are only a student on your course once. If things speak to you, SAY them. As long as you can back up your argument, it doesnt matter if other people think you’re wrong. And you’ll learn something. I know I am. I found a lovely bit of Rogers that I would not have otherwise found, and thus, whatever my tutors think of this essay, I have expanded my knowledge.


Rogers was a radical, and so am I trying to be.



I’ll let you know if it passes.

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New year’s resolution. Or ‘ways to stay on top of coursework’

Calvin and Hobbes discussing new year's resolutions

Calvin and Hobbes discussing new year’s resolutions

My new year’s resolution is to be more organised with my classwork. It’s not the writing of the assignments that’s the problem, but the organising of the papers and then… references (most students’ nemeses).

On my course, the tutors are kind enough to put up some of the reading materials that they deem ‘essential’ (all within correct copyright usage of course!). This is lovely, but I have to keep going back to our moodle site to check which were for which assignment, and that gets long-winded.

I’ve been using a program – Mendeley (available free for mac and PC), to organise my papers. Essentially, you put all your papers in one folder and tell Mendeley to look at it. Then when you open it it lists all the papers there! Magic! Or at least, it is (often) if you’ve downloaded the newer electronic versions, as all their fields tend to be in the right places (title, authors etc). If it’s a scanned copy, that doesn’t happen and so you have to spend some time fixing those things.

It occurred to me as I was writing my last assignment that I just need to ‘tag’ each paper with the module code and then when I was writing my essay I could look for the module tag and voila! It’s only taken me a year to think of it…

The other magic thing it does, ALSO that I didn’t realise until this essay, is that if you spend the time fixing the info that comes in with the paper it references for you (handy hint- if you make sure the title is correct and then tell it to do a google search on title, it often comes back with the correct/nearly correct info, which you can ‘agree’ to or correct as needed) if you download the free word plugin.

When writing your essay on something like ‘the necessary and sufficient conditions’, you might like to cite Rogers’ 1959 paper. If you install the handy mendeley plug in for word, you just click an icon, type in ‘Rogers 1959’ (or some of the title if you prefer) and it puts the citation in for you. You then scroll to the place you want your reference list and ask it to ‘insert bibliography’. Thereafter, every time you cite something, it automatically adds it to your references, in alphabetical order.

You can tell it which referencing system you’re using, so ‘Harvard, Middlesex university’ type, and it will put them in in the correct format for your institution.

The last thing you can do is (at least on iOS) download the free mobile phone version of Mendeley and link it to your computer account and it lists all the papers. If you want to read one, you can download it to your phone. As you can see from the image below, I have the top article on my phone (the book icon) and if I wanted to read another, I’d just press the down arrow to get it.


For Android users, you can use Referey, which is still free, but you get slightly less functionality.

Now, if only it would write my assignments for me, I’d be delighted 🙂

That first client


doormat that reads 'welcome'


I was lucky enough to get two calls very soon after we went ‘live’, and my first two assessments were happening on the same night.

I didn’t feel so bad during the day – my fulltime work is busy enough to keep me occupied, but come 5pm when I finished I had so many thoughts go through my head – would i be good enough for my client? would my client say ‘how many clients have you had?’ and go running out of the door when I said they were the first?

I had booked a pre-first appointment supervision with Fred, and we talked through many of these things, and whilst I was confident that I had answers for many of the questions I suspected would come up, I wasn’t entirely sure that on ACTUALLY being asked them, I would manage to give the answers I’d thought about! Lucky, come the time, none of those ‘bogey’ questions came up.

My first assessment was at 7.30, so of course I was at the placement ridiculously early – just to ‘make sure’, and I wandered around the room thinking about the shortcomings of the room (which is not set up as a therapy room, but is actually adequate for the need) when suddenly: ’tissues! I don’t have tissues!’ occurred to me. Then several other things occurred – what if the clock stopped? I don’t wear a watch. What if, what if? Mostly daft thoughts where my brain is just on overdrive. I wrote a list of the things I would need to bring each week and then it was time for that First Client.

Who was lovely. Just the kind of client you would want for a first client. He didn’t mind that I was a trainee, and my face, which tends to go pink at times of high stress, didn’t seem to bother him either. We had a good assessment session and at the end of it, I was confident that I had gathered enough information based on the things I’d considered in supervision and with a mental ‘thanks’ to Fred, I waved that first client away, ready to see them for the first time ‘properly’ the week after.

I made myself some verbal notes and then it was a couple of minutes’ break and on to the second assessment

The second assessment? It was a breeze. Lovely, interesting, but I was so much more confident that I had covered the things I needed that I could just sit and rely on my assessment process.

What did surprise me, however, was how much both of the assessments turned in to ‘therapy’ moments, with both potential clients sharing quite a lot of information with me. It’s something I try not to do when I am assessed as a client, so I wasn’t expecting it. It worked well however, and both clients wanted to come for more sessions, and I was happy to see them both. I guess that makes me a proper (trainee) therapist now – as opposed to just one in potential 🙂