I am going to need to dedicate a part of my blog to my counselling journal as our lessons are very inspiring and evocative – I want to capture my emotional journey. I cannot post about the content of our 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.
Starting a new path
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. On the other hand, 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. As it turns out, the counselling practice requires high levels of empathy but also resilience to emotional stress which comes with a huge amount of life experience.
Starting for me came with two major realisations: how to manage my Eastern-European background practising counselling in the UK, and how to shift from my current job (social media marketing) defined well by openness and transparency to a profession which is based on 100% confidentiality. Both of those notions created a little bit of tension before my first session but I know that 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 worry about my cultural background. UK is very tolerant and multicultural comparing to other parts of the world I lived in. (Brexit might be affecting this at the moment but we are yet to see the actual impact in the years to come). Poles, however, are much more direct than Brits! How am I going to manage this difference in the way ‘things will get done’ in my actual practice? Well, it is a very valid worry to have and to investigate. When I looked at this problem in more detail I realised that actually, my difference could become beneficial to my future practice. My uniqueness can prove to be an opportunity to help people who might struggle with their own identity (cultural or any other, really). 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. But I am glad that I will learn about confidentiality even more.
The word ‘contract’ gained a new meaning to me this week. The word in counselling context is an agreement between a counsellor and their client that will form the ethical framework of their future work together. 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.
After my first learning session, 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. Now it’s time to take it to a new, more personal level.