Saturday’s workshop was a real eye opener, not just in terms of realisation of self, diversity and the implications of who I am in regards to what society thinks I am, but also in respect to people’s spiritual and political beliefs. It appeared to me that a lot of the group had very little to say in either respect, able to discuss what they had been up until this point. Whilst my comments were hardly positive towards either political situation or religious faith, I do have a sense that I might be more self aware, or at least, more concerned about my place or position in respect to these. The atheists and the people who steer clear of politics (having no view on it) really proved to me that a lot of people are more prepared to stick their head in the sand because they either don’t want to think about issues, don’t want to upset the status quo in their lives, or really have a sense that it’s not happening or not going to happen if they don’t afford it any thought.
I think it’s a credit to the group dynamic that the introduction of four people from the other group did nothing to unbalance the ease with which we communicated. I have no doubt that the four would have been apprehensive to begin with, but I’m sure that the looking back at the group contract and the warm up exercises helped propel us all along.
I took away from the workshop a lot of thinking about who I was and who I thought I was, and spent the majority of Sunday considering self and the experiences and circumstances that have led to me becoming me. Although not an entirely pleasureable experience in itself it brought to the front of my mind possible reasons for my responses in certain situations, which is extremely interesting.
I got a lot out of Monday night’s session also, really finding myself in the counsellor role during the triads. I was really pleased to be congratulated on my conduct and my use of some of the skills with a very important aspect highlighted: that when a client’s issue is something that sparks memories or an ongoing situation with yourself. For me, this manifested in me remaining very aware that I shouldn’t involve myself, steering clear of leading questions or advice, and whilst the client said that he was comfortable with me, and felt that my questions were very open, helpful and empathic, the two observers suggested that to them I hadn’t been entirely so. I found it difficult to paraphrase any more than I did do, not finding that the time was right to interrupt in such a manner, which is why I made the concerted effort to summarise the session, and almost fell into the trap of offering advice. It was highlighted throught that, and my subsequent change of tack, to avoid advice and offer up an open ended statement, putting the onus of responsibility back on the client, that keeping an open mind and not trying to rush what you are saying will allow you to stop, rethink, and say the right things for the client, not for yourself.
It was interesting when the tutor explained the reason for putting all the guys into one group, which had made me face my fear of male judgement and the possibility of having to cross emotional barriers that usually don’t exist between female and female, or male and female. I admitted to myself that when I had first joined the group, I was sizing up the men, trying to gauge their personality types far more than I did the females of the group.
Playing the role of counsellor in this instance really opened up the potency and power of that responsibility. Despite my previous frustrations regarding that lack of control on the counsellor’s part, I suddenly felt more empowered, able to say that when the time was right, they would know to make the right decision for themselves, and happy to step back knowing that I had planted a seed of thought that one way or another remain with them.
I guess that the point of this is to keep the client thinking, because too many people switch off, set up their barriers and try to deal on a day to day basis with their problems whilst avoiding the cause. Whether they make the right decision in the end is entirely up to them, as long as the counsellor can keep the issues at the fore of the client’s mind. The client can only face up to them, can only allow themselves to heal if their wounds have been opened and cleaned.