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

A journey … towards … being

Tag Archives: person-centred

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”


Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Last week I posted the video of Brené Brown: Listening to shame, saying I would post her other video, on vulnerability. As mentioned this video was recorded in 2010, whereas the “shame” one was recorded earlier this year. So here it is:

Interestingly it was also posted on the following person-centred forum:

However, I first came across it from a Linkedin group:

I find both videos enlightening, to the extent that last week I purchased Brené’s book: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You are. This can be a very scary thing to do. In a short summary, it is having empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence toward and for ourselves. In other words accepting and loving who we are. Not necessarily being content but acknowledging where we are and NOT destroying ourselves because we’re not perfect. For many, many people this can be very hard to do, particularly for members of the LDS Church, with an ideal of being perfect. This is not the place for a theological discussion on the subject, expect perhaps to say that while there may be a goal for perfection, it is often sought inappropriately, leaving people with immense guilt and stress which is avoidable. For me this comes back to Carl Rogers statement, shown on the right and side of this page: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Brené’s book gives ideas on how to come to terms with where we are. An interesting part is her take on love:

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them—we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.” (bold highlight added by myself).

The question, for me, that seems to flow through the book, so far, is: how can I love you, if I do not really love myself? Also, how I can really accept your love, if I do not love myself?

Post edited at 18:30 GMT.

Family counselling charity – a possibility?

Shortly after working as a volunteer counsellor at a youth charity I felt that many of the issues being brought to us were not simply concerned with the individuals themselves. Rather, they were part of a family that was having an issue. Parents would bring a young person and basically say “Fix him/her for me“. As a Person-Centred counsellor the idea of “fixing” anyone does not feel right. Seeing more and more young people this feeling for me grows ever stronger that what is needed is family counselling or at least parent and child counselling openly available. Not just individual counselling for young people. The idea being not to “fix” a family, but to help them relate to each other is a way that they all feel valued and respected, so each member of a family is able to grow and develop as they might wish, not being compelled to fit in to a certain family mould. I suppose this is still “fixing” in a way. Though, hopefully not the idea of fixing in or toward a particular way of being.

There are several youth counselling charities in the area where I live. Yet, there are no family counselling charites. At least I have not come across any. There is Relate, though they are more geared towards couples. Youth charities cater for 12 to 24 years olds. Over 24 and you seem left to yourself, to pay out for a private counsellor or to stumble on through life. You may get refered by your GP to an NHS therapist, who more than likely is a CBT practitioner. Good for short-term issues, though that is seriously disputed by some, eh, John Threadgold ;), yet perhaps lacking in getting into any real depth and resolving of long-term issues.  I’ve not quite decided, but I lean towards John’s point of view.  See John’s comments on a recent “Counselling and Psychotherapy Networking Facebook group, post by Jenny Lynn.

My solution?  Begin that which has been with me off and on for the past 2 years, and today is getting stronger than ever. Start a family counselling charity in my local area. How do I do this? At present, no idea, but why should that stop me. I do presume though this will take several years of ground work and preparation. Maybe it’s beyond me. With the help of others though I’m sure it can be realised. Again, as yet, no idea who those others may be.

Why a charity? Whilst I appreciate and am content that counsellors need to earn a living and in one way that may become a reality for myself, yet there is an uncomfortable feeling about charging individuals or families for counselling.  Maybe it’s a bridge I need to cross? It is something that I feel society should provide. Some will disagree with that.  Perhaps this view comes from my lack of sympathy with Capitalism.  Not sure I would consider myself a Socialist either, though certainly I have feelings that a service that will help an individual grow and develop should not be chargeable, or at least should be charged within the reach of all. I feel counselling should be available to all regardless of age or circumstances.  If the government won’t provide a realistic counselling service, this may be a way to compensate for that lack.

Any ideas welcome 🙂

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.

Strangely relaxed and at ease

Last night had my first sessions counselling since gaining the diploma.  I’m not sure whether it was me , the clients, or being awarded the diploma, yet there was a greater calmness, serenity and ease with all that occurred in the counselling room yesterday.  Was it that I didn’t feel quite so obligated to be a certain way,  as taught through the diploma course?  Part of me feels that to be the case, that there felt an openness being myself, not thinking of how I perhaps thought I ought to be.  Though, I must state that we were always taught to be ourselves, that we were each unique and thus the best way to be, was to be ourselves. I would like to think that I had always been seeking to be myself in the counselling room, as in all parts of my life.  Yet, last night there seemed an even greater contentment and ease.

Was it like taking the driving test, that the real driving and experiencing follows once the test has been passed?  As learning to drive continues as new situations on the roads are encountered, so as I continue counselling my development and learning will never end. Though, as in order to become an even better driver there are advanced driving coures to take, likewise there are further counselling courses to take.  The first of which will be with John Threadgold, regarding Focusing.

“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 🙂 ).

Counselling Portfolio finally submitted …

As the title says, have finally submitted by portfolio for a diploma in person-centred counselling. Apparently it takes between 8 – 12 weeks to hear back.  Seems a long time to wait. But, not much I can do to hurry the process.  An interesting phrase “hurry the process” – something that occasionally clients like to try to do, but I feel can’t really be done.  A bit like running before walking.  Certain things must be done in order.

A question – I’m hoping that the portfolio is acceptable – if so, do I then change the title of this blog from “the life & times of a trainee counsellor“? And if so, what do I change it to?  Using the word “qualified” seems too presumptuous, as there is always more to learn and develop.  Maybe “a newly trained counsellor“? Any suggestions out there?

So what now? With regards to counselling a more concentrated effort in learning and applying Focusing.  I’ve mentioned Focusing here at different times.  Now with the portfolio submitted there feels time to enjoy embracing Focusing.

One thing to do is answer a question that was asked nearly a year ago here, about transference from a person-centred perspective.  Over the next week will attempt an answer to post here.  Actually have just searched to find who and when the comment was made.  The question was “dependency  and the person-centred approach”, not transference.  So perhaps I’ll research both.

The Power of Being Human in Counselling and Psychotherapy – A Seminar with Professors Brian Thorne and Dave Mearns

On Saturday, the 16th April attended the above seminar. Have read/studied many of their books it was great to sit with them in person and listen to them discourse together.  Even had the opportunity to meet them after.  Brian Thorne signed three books I purchased whilst there.  Is that too much worship status given him, to want his signature?

It’s difficult now to recall with detail all that was said – it did last from 09:30 until 16:30 with a short lunch break. It did not drag though as some seminars can do.  Time seemed to fly by. All in all, it confirmed my feeling that the person-centred approach to counselling id the one I am more suited to or should that be is more suited to me?  The whole concept of the client knowing what hurts and what needs fixing seems vibrant for me.  Yes, it may take time but the fixing being done by the client, with close  accompaniment by the counsellor, is then more permanent, so that old demons are less likely to come back and haunt later. My notes are at home now, so will add some specific quotes later.

For me one of the key insights and indeed blessing was to see two people with very different approaches able to work together so well. Brian the committed Christian, Dave the commit atheist. And work together, not just for the odd day but, for 36 years.  Acceptance of each other, empathy for each other and congruence shared over that time.

Diploma course end

So last Monday evening was the final of the diploma. Most of the course work complete. Have one essay left on using supervision. Plus tidying up 3 other essays ready to submit my portfolio once I’ve completed 100 placement hours. Not too sure when they will all be completed. I’m hoping by end of February next year.

It’s exciting being at this end of the diploma and at another beginning. Where from here? Certainly some Focusing training – both for personal use as well as working with clients. Also, interested in couple and family counselling. Especially from a person-centred perspective. Haven’t seen much material in these areas. Must be some. Need to search more.

One thing to do once the essays are completed is the post on transference and person-centred counselling.

Marriage Gems … love everyday

Some ideas of keeping and increasing love each day for your spouse.  It came from

There maybe those who read this blog who think marriage is not for them.  Would suggest that if you want a relationship with someone marriage is the way to go.  Without the commitment there is a higher chance of a couples splitting up.  Marriage doesn’t guarantee a long-lasting relationship, but it does increase the chances, particularly if both partners are committed to each other and put effort in.

From a person-centred view this may seem a bit too directional.  It is offered for anyone who wishes to use the material.  No compulsion 🙂  Running through the article are the three core principles of person-centred counselling – congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathy.

If a couple can be and  live these qualities their relationship and marriage with be blessed.

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