Opening channels #16

open-arms-elbow  (Thanks to Elbow)

Music is brilliant, isn’t it?  Songs to sing to, dance with, cry along with and songs that pick me up and hurl me against the wall.  Some songs are my time machines and will whisk me back to a time – sometimes I want to go there and other times, I have to turn off the tune.

I found this again on my i-Pod and found myself crying with joy as I was driving to work.  “We got open arms for broken hearts…” Guy Garvey sings and relates a story of a friend or relative returning to friends and family who are celebrating his return.  The reunion isn’t a happy one, we understand as the line goes on “…like yours my boy…” and we get the sense the return isn’t fully his choice.

There is no judgement however  “You’re not the man who fell to earth…you’re the man from La Mancha!” acknowledging the returner’s feelings about coming home without the success he imagined when he set out on his adventure and trying to reassure him that he is still regarded as brave and intrepid for setting out in the first place.  “Tables are for pounding here…” suggests that the returner might be angry, distressed and in need of a physical release of those feelings. You can pound tables with us, Garvey seems to say and we’ll not think anything less of you.   The song goes on to list all of the people who are there to see him home – all human “Rooney’s face down in a puddle – everyone’s here!” the song ends triumphantly.  We feel that the adventurer is back where he needs to be now, he will heal and may even set out again with the strength of everyone behind him.

I would argue that the song is a lovely symbol of unconditional positive regard, genuineness and warmth and reminded me of therapy.  Clients are adventurers, living life but experiencing an adventure gone off track.  They need to come ‘home’ a place where arms are open and there is no negative judgment.  They expect and should receive a human face (maybe not ‘face down in a puddle’ though) who will support them to pound the table, if they need to and who will value the adventure they’ve undertaken.  Clients are the man, or woman, from La Mancha and will take what they need to embark on their adventure again.

Music is wonderful isn’t it?  Just a few words cleverly and beautifully bringing together the fundamentals of a therapeutic relationship.  Give the song a listen…



Opening channels #14

TFD will-today-be-included-in-your-memoirs

It’s been nearly a year since I wrote here.  I’m still in counselling training and finding the challenge of dealing with experience rather than just getting to grips with theory.  I’ve been away on residential with our group – going to the ‘dark places’ and hugging it out – which I’m sure is standard for these experiences and honestly is not intended as flippant or disrespectful.  Some stuff really was scary to get immersed in.  I have started real counselling with Real People, rather than practice sessions with my fellow students, though I’ve yet to have a client keep their appointment.  I have met with my supervisor and I found myself babbling like an idiot to convince her (or me?) that I am competent and safe enough to be let out amongst REAL PEOPLE to poddle around in their stuff.  Yet I haven’t written about any of these moments here…

I’m working on research around reflective thinking, writing and practice and have recently published an article on the challenges of teaching reflective practice so you would think that I would be reflecting like a demon everywhere!  Sadly no – the biggest problem I’m finding with reflective writing is that I am extremely good at telling others that we should be doing it but really trying very hard to do other things (cleaning shoes, clearing out the shed, reading trashy novels etc. etc ad nauseum) instead.  I am the Queen of prevarication where reflective writing is concerned and I am committing the cardinal sin of

“…superficial discussion of having paused for thought from time to time…” (Thompson & Pascal, 2012, p.311).

as far as my reflective Learning Reviews are concerned.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to explore my experiences as I’m training to be a counsellor but I’m not sure that I’m exploring deeply enough to gain some real learning from them.

There is something liberating about writing here though.  The anonymity might allow me to be freer in my exploration perhaps?  The fact that it isn’t being graded or explicitly judged – or even read – by anyone else gives me a freedom to write any way that I want?  I do know that it feels good to be back…



Thompson, N. & Pascal, L. (2012) Developing critically reflective practice. Reflective Practice; International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Vol, 13 Issue 2, 2012.  pp. 311-325