Friday, October 06, 2017

A (Hopefully) Wise Old Therapist on On Beginning Professional Practice

Our new MSc in Counselling began a couple of weeks ago, the culmination of a couple years of planning.  So far the course is going really well, with an enthusiastic group of students and energetic, talented new tutor team. However, I've only had bits and pieces of time with them because of travel and being ill last week.  This was their third week, and I'm away in California again, but they are on my mind.

A couple of days ago I got a draft of the input for the session on first sessions, which are first sessions both for their clients and also for them as counsellors.  Here is what I wrote back to my colleague:
Thanks for this. I'm just thinking about what we want to say to them about their psychological contact with the client in all of this and their own anxiety with all the details.  Can we help them balance the need to cover the details with the importance of establishing psychological contact with the client.  As Gendlin used to say: "No contract without contact".  But that's basically impossible for them at this stage, because they haven't mastered the details yet and they are understandably highly anxious. 

As a wise old therapist, I am wanting two things for them somewhere in this process of beginning:  First, that they take a moment right before the session to make some space for themselves to say hello to their anxious parts; second, that they somehow write into their schedule of all the first session things to cover a couple of moments for making genuine contact with their client: Maybe once near the beginning of the session: a short state check and a bit of empathy for the client (and themselves); then maybe later on in the session or at the end, another similar moment. It's like remembering to stop and appreciate the flowers alongside a busy road. Sometimes, it's important to add these little moments of meeting to the big long to-do list that is our only hope of not forgetting something important. 

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