As It Is or As I Am – the Art of Becoming

A journey … towards … being

Tag Archives: counsellor

ACC (Association of Christian Counsellors) Summer School 2014

Elim conference centreThursday evening arrived at the Elim Conference Centre, nestled in the heart of the Malvern Hills. Reason being there to help a friend teach Focusing-oriented therapy Friday to Sunday, inclusive. This was part of the ACC (Association of Christian Counsellors) Summer School 2014.

I was there supporting John Threadgold. The teaching went well. Great feedback was received at the end of the course. As it was a Christian environment I was a little concerned about my being as a Latter-day Saint. The organisers knew and were happy with that, with the proviso that I did not use the opportunity to “proselyte” in any way. Such a stance is only to be expected, a request though not necessary for myself, as there is nor would be a feeling to do so, as a counsellor it would be unethical to use any similar environment to do so.

The course had six people on (five women and one man, consisting of one married couple)  from various parts of the UK.

So we come to Saturday evening, following two days of intense teaching and experiential work, it was thought a “cheese and wine” evening to relax a bit would be in order.  I turned up with John (a Quaker), having brought  some fruit juice.  The question inevitably came: “What Church do you go to?” My answer “The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons.” Greeted by a “Wow” – a friendly wow, not an offensive one. Then went on to have some great conversations with the man, who was a minister. I’m not quite sure if he was once a lay minister or a full time one, but he now working in “regular” employment. Unlike past times, this was a very welcoming experiencing. So much so the next day, Sunday, attended the worship service, held after breakfast. Having planned to go from arriving, the evening experience cemented that decision.

It was great. After a brief introduction,  followed by a prayer, we started singing, being led by a guitar playing man, with all the words displayed on an overhead projector.  Not just the one opening hymn, we would usually have in an LDS Sacrament service, but three. The meeting was then open for anyone to pray out loud. I suppose this would be similar to sharing of testimonies on a Fast sunday, though not for so long. Communion was then available. Four people (two women, two men) stood at the four corners of the room to distribute it. This was said to be a practical solution, rather than the usual passing it down the rows, was due to the type of room the meeting was held in. Bread was broken from a loaf in front of those who approached them, which included myself. And before anyone goes off about this bring disrespectful, I was invited to do so. After communion, further singing, a wonderful 20 minute sermon based around Peter walking on the water. Interesting comparison to most talks in an LDS Sacrament meeting, the only quotes were from the scriptures, whereas additionally we would usually throw in one or two quotes of the Brethren. The meeting was concluded with more singing, then a prayer. An hour in total. Wonderful. Anything to learn? I think the simplicity was wonderful.







“If it irritates you, perhaps you might prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to show you why”


New blog title …

Felt to change the title of my blog today.  It now makes more obvious my membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Such membership was always available in the “About me” page, so whilst never hidden, it is now more open.  Why the change?  That I cannot really put an explanation, thought or feeling to at the moment.  Perhaps it will spark more interest?  Perhaps not.  Perhaps the opposite?

Time to state again that this blog is about me, not any clients I see, whoever they are or may be.  Part of me is being a member of the LDS Church, so is that where the title change comes from, a desire to show more openly to the counselling world and others who may read this blog that I am a member of said Church?  Should it matter to make such known?  From much of the Press recently about Mitt Romney it would seem some think it does matter.  Whilst the blog is about me, mainly in connection to person-centred counselling, other aspects of my life no doubt come through.  Now a main part openly does.

Of course this then raises the question of “parts”.  What is a part? Do all the parts add together to make a sum great than the individual parts?  Can we really have parts or roles?  As mentioned else where here, being a person-centred counsellor is not a role that can be put on and off as one enters or leaves the counselling room.  So being  a member of the LDS Church is not something that can be put on or off as one enters or leaves the chapel each Sunday.  Then comes the question of what does it mean to be LDS?  Perhaps another day with ample time to write, I’ll answer what it mean to me to be LDS.  A quick, very short answer is being congruent, having empathy, and unconditional positive regard for all (qualities vital for a person-centred counsellor) – being filled with love.

23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

Been a while since I’ve posted here.  Feel this is worthwhile.  Not much extra I can say about this – take the 9 minutes 19 seconds to watch.  It could alter your view of something that can change your health.  Wasn’t going to mention what it is, but you’ll get it from the first few moments.  I’ve known of some of these benefits for a long time.  The video explains further far-reaching benefits, which did  surprise me. This relates to physical health, which in turn promotes our emotional health.  I have determined to make a change.  Will you?

Picked up this video from another counsellor’s blog I came across:

“Dependency and the Person-Centred Approach”

Months ago I said I’d answer this question – so answer it I will, though it will be from my own perspective as from my reading, browsing and searching have not yet discovered much that relates to the subject.  Apart from the quote to the right from Brian Thorne: “If therapy has been successful, clients will also have learned how to be their own therapist“.  The implication I take is that is you no longer need a therapist, there is no dependency.  That of course is the ultimate aim, hopefully the end result of any counselling that has taken place.  Before that is reached there will no doubt be some type of dependency.   Ideally there should be none, as any relationship between a person-centred counsellor and client should be as equal as possible.  There will no doubt be some inequality, but that should be very limited. Through the attributes of acceptance, empathy and congruence the client will hopefully see the counsellor not as an expert or the expert, in knowing what the client should do or be, but as someone who is there to assist the client in getting to know them self more, to discover things that had either been deliberately, or unconsciously hidden. The object being to come to terms with who they were, who they are now and who they wish to be, recognising that we are never static in our being, that “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.”  This links for me with another statement from Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”  As I come to understand where I have come from, where I am, then I can more powerfully change my future, if I wish to.

Reading this over, it probably doesn’t really answer the question asked.  Ah, well … maybe next time 🙂
As always, any thoughts or comments appreciated (or further questions 🙂 ).

Facebook – should I stay or should I go … now?

Facebook logo

Image via Wikipedia

Facebook – should I stay or should I go … now? – Well, should I? And, if so, why or why not? This thought and feeling has flowed in and out for the past couple of weeks.  I realise it’s not new or unique.  I’ve read several blog posts about this, each relating the writers opinion.  The reason I’m posting is that as yet I don’t have a set opinion – I’m in the midst of formulating one.

I could go on about the time-wasting playing the various games such as Farmville, the lack of real connection it can give to others. Or is that, often, Facebook friends are only the  appearance of a relationship? You’ve no doubt read much on the above thoughts. The angle I am looking at it from is more from a professional stand point.

If you’re  a solicitor, school teacher, doctor, nurse, etc. would you become Facebook friends with your clients? With the prospective of completing my counselling diploma early in 2011 this question comes to me.  I’ve heard it said that if you’re unsure about doing something, you probably shouldn’t do it. Does that apply in this case? If I’m unsure about staying on Facebook, once I begin to see paying clients, should I just leave? If anyone wonders what the difference is between seeing clients voluntarily (as I do now) and th0se who pay, its that where I volunteer we are told to only use our first names.  So, there is much less likelihood of someone searching Facebook, finding and asking me to be their friend.  When working with clients who pay they would know my full name which would make it really easy to find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Does it matter? Discussed this briefly in a break at the diploma this week. It was said that if a client requests to be your Facebook friend and you ignore the request, they may feel rejected, possibly leading to all sorts of complications, especially if you still have a counsellor/client relationship. I used the word “still” in the previous sentence, but once you have that relationship surely it will always be there?

The BACP Ethical Guidelines state: Dual relationships arise when the practitioner has two or more kinds of relationship concurrently with a client, for example client and trainee, acquaintance and client, colleague and supervisee.  The existence of a dual relationship with a client is seldom neutral and can have a powerful beneficial or detrimental impact that may not always be easily foreseeable. For these reasons practitioners are required to consider the implications of entering into dual relationships with clients, to avoid entering into relationships that are likely to be detrimental to clients, and to be readily accountable to clients and colleagues for any dual relationships that occur (bottom of page 5).

My reading of the above is that having a personal friendship with a client would be a dual relationship, thus being inappropriate.  That being the case likewise being Facebook friends is not right.

The question, then, is do I leave Facebook, so a client can never ask to be my friend, avoiding any risk of their rejection? Or, as my wife suggested, when contracting with a client on their first session, explain that I’m on various social networking sites but that due to  the BACP Ethical standard I adhere to I am unable to accept any friend requests?

Facebook – should I stay or should I go … now?

Or are there other options?

Love is the key

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.  (Carl Rogers)

The curious paradox is that when you accept me just as I am, then I can change.  (Me – slightly paraphrasing Carl Rogers)

When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (Joseph Smith)

If our want is to help anyone, we must love them.  It is so simple, it’s scary.  The words are simple, yet the expression, the being of love, is perhaps not so.  If as a counsellor I do not love fully my client, my ability to help them on their journey is severely reduced.  No matter how good my “technique” is, love needs pre-eminence in the relationship.  That is the crux of unconditional positive regard, love as Carl Rogers also expressed it, combined with empathy and congruence. I’m writing nothing new.  Strong feelings came over me this lunch time that love is the key and felt to reiterate this to myself and anyone who may read this blog.

For me, judgement is crucial, or rather non-judgement.  If someone judges me, I feel unloved.  If they do feel love for me, that love gets diluted through their judgement. Same with clients, if I offer judgement it dilutes any other positive feelings they may have.  The relational depth is lost.

3rd night at diploma

Began this post last Monday evening, only just completing it.  So it may seem a bit out of place after the post regarding my father-in-law.

Started with an hour and 15 mins of PD (Personal Development) which was great.  It has been moved from the end of the evening to the beginning.  Seemed a lot better as there was no quick cut off, as there had been the other two times, due to running out of time.  Shared my feeling of feeling very welcomed yet still felt outside of the group. Expressed feeling of wanting to share but not sure of the value having been through all that with the previous course.  Was asking myself why the desire to share?  Where did that come from? Was there a need to test the group, to see if they would have unconditional regard for me despite whatever I might share? Perhaps.

Then we split for triads for the first time this year.  It was great. I was observer and client.  Look forward to being counsellor, hopefully next week. Feedback will be great to get – as I long to develop further and without feedback that development I feel with be somewhat restricted.

"Love and Loss" – chapter 2

Yesterday, completed, or rather continued, what I was finding hard going. Returned to Colin Murray Parkes: Love and Loss. Today everything seemed to flow. The 2nd chapter talked about attachment theory, then moved to psycho-social transition theory, asking whether the two can be integrated in relation to loss. Page 34: “If attachment theory explains the urge to cry and to search for someone who is lost and psycho-social transition theory explains the need to rethink and replan one’s life in the face of a major change, how are these two alternatives worked out in the moment-to-moment life of bereaved people?” Parkes answers his own question postulating the need for both emotional and cognitive needs to be worked through. Due to the uniqueness of people, some may have greater emotional work to go through, while others more cognitive work.

This is where questions arise if any one particular counselling theory claimed to have all the answers. On page 35, in talking of the need for expression of grief, Parkes states: “Some psychotherapists and counsellors still see this as their primary aim,” ending that sentence with what would no doubt be questioned by those advocating a strict person-centred approach: “although the proportion of people who benefit from this approach is not large.” He then promises to return to this and other therapies in chapter 18. I eagerly await that chapter.

In promising what to expect in chapter 34, the concluding sentence of the chapter is provocative: “We shall see how love in its various forms can enrich or impoverish, strengthen or undermine, cure or even kill us.”


This is difficult – a wave, a big wave, of self-doubt in my ability to be a counsellor has just washed over me.  This came as I posted a recording of a session to a new course I’m applying for. Here I am blogging my journey to becoming a counsellor and now the thought is should I even be one?  Is this just the doubt I have read others experiencing on occasion? How do I know, how can I tell if this is genuine in-ability or not? I feel scared –  at what though? This is definitely something to take to my supervisor for sure. Feel close to tears. More later. Going to sit with this feeling and see where it takes me.

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