Sunday, July 01, 2007

Diploma Day and Good-bye (for now) to Dot

Entry for 30 June 2006:

The teaching staff from all three postgraduate diploma courses in counselling meet as a group two or three times a year to review how things are going, to address shared issues and to think about where we are heading. I find these meetings an opportunity to connect with the other teaching staff and to take stock.

I attended my first one of these meetings last summer during my preliminary visit. At that time, much of the meeting was spent with Mick and Dot kind of baiting each other about the true nature of the person-centred approach, which was interesting for awhile but eventually became repetitious. This year, Mick wasn’t there, because he has been on a kind of sabbatical working on his latest book, so he hasn’t been teaching on the diploma course, and Dot had announced her intention to take a potentially open-ended sabbatical of her own. She has been teaching on our diploma course for some 12 years, most of its history, and her strong, passionate voice for the relational interpretation of the person-centred approach has been an important component of the training for a long time. Over the past months, it has been my sense that we were beginning to move beyond the old “who-is-really-person-centred” debates toward a more pluralist (in several senses) view. Unfortunately, neither of their voices will be much heard next year, as Mick will be devoting most of his efforts to helping the new Counselling Psychology Doctorate program get off the ground.

Our leave-taking for Dot extended throughout the Diploma day, at a reception for Dot afterwards and then on to dinner together at the Monday Part-time course’s favorite haunt, the Three Craws. Various people from the Counselling Unit’s past dropped by over the course of the reception and dinner, like the ghosts in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, only friendlier, among them, Mary, Margaret, Jill, Darcy and others. I had a sense of the history of the Counselling Unit passing before my eyes. I dragged Kenneth and Diane along, following my policy of No Family Left Behind, and they were their charming selves, even if Kenneth did doze off once.

Nevertheless, I have a feeling that Dot will be back; she needs her time away, but it’s also very clear how much passion she still has for the work. It will be interesting to see where she gets to...

It was a splendid day and evening of processing and conversation. The conversation about the True Person-Centred Way has moved on, I think, to what I think will be more productive dialogues about actual practice, what the diploma course will look like under government regulation, and the role that research will have. At the end of the afternoon’s processing, Alan and Maryanne asked if I would be willing to do a session with them next autumn, bringing them up to speed on the research evidence. “I’d like that very much”, I said.

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