I was observed during my counselling skills session last night. Working with J is getting easier – I’m opening up more for her and I feel like she feels more relaxed with me. I felt okay about being observed.
My tutor’s feedback was to ‘challenge, take a risk and trust the process’. I know that I am competent and safe. I work to do no harm and this make it difficult for me to judge when to challenge the ‘client’. I take the safer person-centred option by going with the client and not really challenging or questioning the incongruence or emotions I perceive. I could feel the ‘stuck’ that J was experiencing in her experience but shied away from asking how she would feel if she could not get ‘unstuck’, preferring to stay safely with the describing she was doing. I know that I need to be helping the client focus on the feelings but I’m scared of getting into analysis and diagnosis rather than accepting and validating. As Rogers points out, if I am to accept the client’s feelings, I must be ready to respond to the emotional content rather than the intellectual content of the client’s story. J was showing me anger, frustration, resentment and disappointment with the key players in her story and I was drifting around the surface only tentatively expressing and checking what I was seeing.
I must start to trust what I see, hear and feel then risk checking it with the client. He or she will only go where he or she wishes to go and I can risk being wrong. Next week I try being uncertain, risking the questions and trusting J to go where it feels right for her.