If you have started on the long road to becoming a counsellor, then among the many requirements is to have personal therapy. You may also have followed some of the debate and research in this area. While many regard it as an essential element of practice, others question it's efficacy and even whether it may be harmful.
Like you I took that same journey and embarked on personal therapy. I wasn't sure what it would entail, and whether in fact I needed it (as it happens I did), nor if it would make me a better therapist (it did!).
What I discovered was a place where I could experiment, explore, be held, and practice just being. Over the many sessions, along with the more official learning, I discovered just what sort of therapist I was. Those therapy sessions culminated in something I call "The descent of Ishtar" after the famous Sumerian myth about Ishtar's descent into the underworld. It was a truly magical journey.
Now that I practice, I in turn see counselling students, and have the privilege of being a part of their journey onto becoming therapists.
Therapeutic work with counselling students is a little different to people who come to therapy seeking help with a problem. For sure there is nothing special about people who are counsellors or becoming counsellors - we get problems and get stuck too!
Personal therapy for you as a student also requires room to explore - to increase your awareness of who you are. When you are counselling a client, it's not just you listening to your client, and responding with interventions. There are many levels of awareness. One of the most powerful is your awareness of yourself, and your own emotional flow of sensation in response to your client. Personal therapy is a place where you can practice this kind of awareness, to notice it flowing and apply it to your own work and your own clients.
Yesterday I was clever,
So I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise,
So I want to change myself.
I am an experienced counsellor educated to degree level, BA (Hons), and a registered member of BACP (MBACP). I abide by their ethical code of practice. I am able to offer the reassurance of having an up to date CRB check. You can read more about me by selecting the titles below.
Bachelor of Arts Counselling First Class Honours
awarded by Buckinghamshire New University
Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling with Distinction
awarded by The University of Winchester
Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Skills
awarded by ABC Awards
Awareness in Bereavement Care
awarded by Cruse Bereavment Care
I am a registered member of BACP (MBACP), and I abide by their ethical code of practice. Being registered is an assurance that I meet a minimum standard for safe and ethical practice.
When I was a child, I decided I wanted to be a dentist or a doctor, rather than a fireman or an astronaut.
And while I never became any of those things, I did end up working with people with a learning disability.
To start with I believed that this group of people were somehow different than me.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
As if it is the axis on which the world revolves
Slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Personal therapy is also...
You may also get taught novel techniques and approaches on your course. Personal therapy can be used to experience them live, and gain a sense of what it is like to be a client with an experienced therapist. You can explore how to manage transference, feeling angry with your therapist, feeling anxious, feeling confused, stuck, a bit hopeless, to be challenged and to challenge back.
And while it is a place for those difficult feelings, there is also time for lighter moments, for laughter and celebration. Most importantly you get to learn what a 'perfect' therapist is. I know I had an image of what one looked like, and I guess you do too. I discovered that the 'perfect' therapist was very definitely not what I expected, it was something else altogether.
The snow goose need not
Bathe to make itself white.
Neither need you do
Anything but be yourself.