Before I go into how I felt during and after the introduction to counselling course I attended, I’ll first give a bit of back story to my creative and professional decisions and development.
A year ago I started doing an Art Degree Drawing Skills and as the course progressed I found myself enjoying it but realistically not going to make it over the high bar that is drawing perfection. Especially without sacrificing the joy, love and fun I have actually making art.
So one day with clarity and relief I announced – I’m going to do my drawing course as personal development only. That left a huge gap of ‘What next?’ as my plan was to do a degree, do a masters and be a successful Art Therapist. Instead of going into an old pattern of study something then study something else I decided to wait and think about all my options.
I have finished my final piece of work and have made a goal to paint in my own style over the Summer and see what happens.
With that in play I thought there is no harm in seeing what is out there by doing short courses and exploring my options actively.
On my list of 100 things in 2016 I added – Explore Counselling as a study option! Counselling originally appealed to me as it’s about helping people in their lives, it’s a varied job that can be within an organisation or freelanced and diverse. It’s where Wayne Dyer started out at and people make their own unique practises such as Counselling and Creativity and Yogi Amadeep Singh.
I think others would agree with me when I say I left the course wondering if I really could/wanted to even be a counsellor! Here’s what I learnt and discovered:
- There’s a big difference between sympathy and empathy, watch this Brene Brown video and you’ll see what I mean, don’t be hard on yourself though, we’ve all been there.
- Counselling is not about ‘helping’ it’s about being along side the other person, listening and supporting subtly so that the other person can come up with the answers on their own. An example of this to think of a time you felt listened to and another time you didn’t, compare how you felt about the two situations. If anything it’ll make you entirely grateful to have someone listen to you at a deep level – it did me.
- The term ‘peeling an onion’ was used to describe the process, I like the creativity of A little piece of me on this phrase.
- In counselling every experience is different, so unlike when you advise a friend about something you would never use your own experience or opinion in a session – to me it’s an easy concept to read about but a lot harder in practice!
- There is paraphrasing, restating and reflecting the thoughts and feelings of the other person to gain further clarification and listening.
- Counselling explores people’s feelings, not the experience. It involves open questions to encourage conversation and openess.
- Language functions like a lift, expressing more will gain further incite, focus, questions and answers.
- One concern I had was that there was a lot of talking and no problem solved, no next action to take (at first I thought it may be all the personal development I listen to, to do lists and goal setting I do, but others shared the same curiosity). This however is normal as counselling in this way is very gradual, it’s more about listening and letting the other person come up with own answers that they may cover at another session. A type of counselling called CBT is homework and solution focused.If your thinking about having a counselling session either for yourself or someone you care about try it out. A counsellor is there to listen and be alongside you in your journey.
Or if your thinking about training to become a counsellor – go for it, counselling can be learnt at any age with any background! An introduction course like I did is the best place to start, following that are Level 2 certificate, Level 3 (1 year) and Level 4 (diploma 2 years), overall it’s 4/5 years part time and you can find more information on BACP.