Opening channels #7

A full day working on skills and personal development.  I haven’t done direct counselling skills practice for a couple of weeks but I have been asked to observe and give feedback on other group members’ skills practice.  I’m very pleased that people trust me to give honest and constructive feedback and I try carefully to give feedback in a real and genuine way.

For personal development, we were tasked to draw our ‘jigsaw’ to illustrate the component parts of us.  I’ve always enjoyed these self-analytical art task, I use them in teaching and I know I should use them more in my own journals and reflection.  This is mine….

Counselling Jigsaw

I know about my drivers but I’m not totally aware of how they motivate my way of acting and being. I’m going to use this to reflect on and really try to get to grips with how some of these damn things might affect my way of being with people – in therapy and in other relationships.

Loss is a biggie – it’s very close to my central ‘core’.  I’ve lost some very important people, roles and bits of me.  Some of my losses I can kiss and let go and my memories of managing and working with them can help me with the inevitable losses that will come in the future.  Not all though.

Here’s a story that might explain where I am with loss.  Over 30 years ago, I met a woman who considered herself a psychic.  She asked specifically for me to come and speak to her and told me that she saw me ‘surrounded by tears’.  While I can rationally take this apart – she was after business, wanted to show her ‘power’, she was deluded (I’m not a believer in any afterlife) – this has haunted me (no pun intended) and I know I expect sadness often rather than really experiencing happiness.  I sometimes pull myself back because I notice that I’m not planning for people, skills, roles to end.  I have locked off love, joy and happiness because it is safer than waiting for it to end and I don’t want to really feel sad because I’m living up to her prophecy so I end up with everything slightly muted.

In therapy, sad, angry, happy, overwhelmed, are all grist for the mill (Yalom, 2001) and I cannot mute my clients feelings or their impact on me. I’m afraid of being surrounded by tears and should be able to use this experience of fear, genuinely and transparently to accept that my clients will do anything not to feel that fear – and will like me lock down and mute the hell out of being overwhelmed by anything.

To make a change I have to accept that I will lose something – allowing me to feel means losing my safe space, carefully constructed shell and my huge ‘Be Strong’ driver.  Giving it a go slowly feels okay and I’m still not sure I need or want to open myself up to every bloody emotion that comes my way as long I’m okay and accept where that leaves me.


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