I am going to need to dedicate Monday evenings or Tuesday mornings to this journal as our counselling lessons are very intense – emotionally and I better capture it as it all happens. I cannot post much about the content of those sessions but I can share my personal learnings, feelings, impressions. This is what I will aim to do here, in the counselling area of my blog. For now, it is going to be my personal studying journal and I hope you will support me on the way.
Starting counselling studies is really emotional – even though the idea is to build professional skills in this job. Many students, myself included, don’t realise that counselling studies are aimed at people in their 30’s and so if you are younger you might find them a bit challenging but if you are in the right age group you might feel that you are starting a new path a little bit too late. That’s not the case. Counselling practice requires high levels of empathy but also resilience to emotional stress. So the process of studies is a great exercise of finding the right balance between the two notions.
Starting for me came with two major worries: how to manage my Eastern-European background and how to shift from my current job (social media marketing) defined well by openness and transparency to a profession which is driven by confidentiality. Both of my worries were artificial of course – I just needed to think a little bit more about them, investigate them and find the right perspective.
Most of the time I do not, but just sometimes, I do worry about my cultural background. Poles are so direct comparing to the locals! How am I going to manage this difference in the way ‘things get done’ in my actual practice? The great thing about having to explain your worries to others is the need to find the right words and arguments. When I looked at this problem in more detail I realised that actually, my difference is my opportunity for additional points of view. My uniqueness can prove to be an opportunity to help people who also struggle with being different in a particular group. I am not sure if this worry was provoked by the current political climate in the UK but I know that it’s really important to be aware of one’s weaknesses for those darker days when work might prove to be more overwhelming. And so I am really pleased that I have managed to look at this worry from various angles and find good outcomes – arguments that I can use for myself and others in the future when I work as a counsellor.
My other worry was connected to the idea of confidentiality. The very word ‘blogger’ makes people panic in this context, but again for me, it will have to be the measure of excellence: supporting my clients in trust that none of what they share with me would leak offline, nor online. And actually, those of you who know just a little bit about the social web might guess that bloggers are actually much more aware of the responsibility they must take for their words than many other types of people out there. Working in social media has made me super vigilant to facts that are shareable and facts that need to remain confidential.
What really is important – and what I have learned about in our first session – is the contract. The word gained a new meaning to me this week. The contract is an agreement a counsellor and their client make before starting their work. It contains all areas of how they would work, what they aim to achieve and how the flow of work is to look like. It’s the backbone of the counselling process. It needs to be clear. It needs to factor in ethics of both parties, the industry standards (BACS ethics in my case) and ethical policies of the organisation providing counselling support. It is also the compass both client and counsellor can use to navigate during their journey together and I think it is not just necessary but also extremely liberating and empowering for both parties.
I came home inspired that the modern counselling is definitely an area I want to work with. It feels like a natural step in my life journey in terms of my skills and the support I can provide to my clients – many of which have already benefited from my listening skills in the context of their relationship with technology.