I’ve recently been in contact with ‘Your Voice Counselling’ a service in Bristol. They were looking for guest bloggers and I asked if I could be involved and to write about my experience on why I wanted to be a counsellor….
So here goes….
I was coming up to graduation in 1996 and I made some offhand comment about maybe wanting to become a counsellor. I was a mature student so a good five/six years older than my friends and sometimes I felt very motherly to them, and I listened to their problems, ideas, worries and concerns. Though maybe when I look back at that time, I was probably far too judgemental.
Looking through my phone notes recently (I use my phone to record notes for my blog, my journal for my course, anything that pops into my head that I may refer to or use later). Anyway looking through my phone notes recently I came across a note dated 9/9/2012 ‘Research Counselling for Cardiac Patients’ I remember where I was when I wrote that note, I’d been to the zoo with friends, we were in a pub garden, one pint down, hot weather, good mood, my tongue gets a bit loose and I start chatting about therapy and that’s when I come out with it. And that’s where it stayed, on my phone.
This time last year, I knew I was leaving my job, I did not know what I was going to do when I walked out of the door of my office for the last time, but I knew I could not, just could not, work behind a desk in an office again. EVER.
I asked for some Careers Counselling, I had two sessions. The counsellor with whom I worked with was amazing, we did some exercises and pulled out from that my strengths and weaknesses, what I enjoyed doing not necessarily in the working world but also in my world of hobbies and fun. From that we pulled out words such as nurturing, communication, dance, caring, organised. It was the counsellor that suggested Dance Therapy. I wasn’t so sure, but I did some research and found a summer school. A few weeks later from that first session I woke up one day and really knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a counsellor, and work with cardiac patients. That slightly alcohol fueled statement I made in the beer garden over a year ago suddenly made perfect sense.
I love the internet, love it! I can find out so much stuff, never let me loose on a Wikipedia page, I’ll be jumping from one thing to the other for hours on end. Anyway, I applied for the dance therapy summer school as a taster into something therapy related. I found courses at UWE and Bristol college for counselling but they required but all were full for Sept 2014. I stumbled upon the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling (BCPC) quite by accident, but as soon as I read the website I just knew that this was for me. I applied, got a late interview, and just over 2 years to the day from that note tapped into my phone I paid my fees and started on the Foundation course for Counselling and Psychotherapy at BCPC.
And its been?
Hard, wonderful, life changing, emotional, traumatic, challenging, draining. I’m just coming to the end of my second term. I’ve completed an essay that I thought I’d never be able to write. It was enjoyable and frustrating, there were days when I wrote as little as 100 words, but I had to keep telling myself that they were 100 words more than what I had started with. I have no-idea if it’s good or not. A fellow student likened the process to knitting a jumper and was wondering what sort of jumpers we had all knitted. Well if my essay was a jumper it would have 3 arms and be slightly longer than asked for…..
I have had to be in supervision, as we were told, the course has brought up stuff and issues that I didn’t really know I had. I have had face up to some unpleasant things about myself, face my fears, re-live my second operation, look at my life and the choices I have made. Its made me examine my relationships with friends, family and a loved one. It’s not easy, I know I am changing, how many of those most close to me will be able to deal with that and expect me to be the person I was a few months back, a year back even. Relationships have already ended, some cut loose, others have become so much stronger and supportive as I move forward.
I have grieved and mourned and celebrated and panicked and raged. I’ve spilled much of myself on the floor and spent a good many months wondering how the fuck I was going to mop myself up and replace everything in any kind of normal functioning order.
And then there are the practicalities, of money, of bills, of being a killjoy as I can’t afford to go out, of trying to find a job that I can do whilst I study, without being seduced by the ‘dark-side‘ of having a disposable income at the cost of my soul, being a desk monkey.
And that’s just the first two terms of the first year.
At the moment I need to decide if I’m going to carry on and, if I am what direction I will take. I am at the fork in the yellow brick road, and there is no friendly scarecrow to help me decide the way. This is my decision to make.
Do I take the counselling route that could take up to 4 more years or do I take the psychotherapy route that could take up to 6 more years……. Do I have the financial resources to do this? More importantly. Do I have the emotional strength to do this?
This week I’ve been feeling that I’m punching above my weight, that me, from my council estate background, should really go back home and work in a shop. That I’ve been silly for ever thinking that I could do this, because look, look at the worry and the stress you are putting on your family as you scrabble around wearing 6 jumpers and three pairs of socks as you don’t want to turn the heating on more than necessary, eating waffles and baked beans cos its cheap, it can’t be healthy.
I’ve worried about not being any good at this career path I want to take, a fear of falling at the last hurdle, of dedicating years of my life to be told, sorry you don’t cut it, you can’t be a counsellor/psychotherapist at the end.
I’ve raged and despaired that I feel that I’m doing this on my own.
And then I remember why I’m doing this, I’m doing this because I BELIEVE there is a need for this sort of support for EVERYONE not just cardiac patients, but everyone who feels alone or anxious or scared, for anyone who feels that they don’t belong, that are looking for their place in their world. The joy I feel in my skills practice when someone has said, you really understood me, you really helped me. The discussions I have with fellow students, the learning about Jung, Rogers, Freud, Gendlin. The way my mind had been opened and expanded, the amusement that I’m finding I’m quite political and have been all along, that there is a feminist within me and always has been.
‘All You Need is Love‘ sang The Beatles….. I’d agree, but make it therapeutic love….