Wednesday, November 02, 2005

This week's roleplaying in the triads drew upon the previous lessons with quite an impact on me. I recognise that we needed the previous week's roleplay, with hypothetical situations, to settle us into the basic in's and out's of a counselling session. Despite my continued apprehension to get down and do it - a fear of having to think on my feet, as if I'm going to be desperate to think of things to say to the client, that I liken to pulling non-existent rabbits from hats - I let myself relax into the session.

Although I wasn't given the chance to take part as a counsellor, my roles as client and observer were very informative: I was aware of the position of the counsellor, what they did with their hands, non-intrusive agreements to what was being said, and most notably picking up where I thought they were crossing the boundary into giving advice or subtle changes in choice of words, turning a paraphrase by the counsellor from empathy into sympathy.

My key observation was in the moments when the counsellor directed the client with an almost manipulative phrase: 'But we know that we can now be positive for the future.' Not only did this cross the boundary, but could sour a relationship between counsellor and client, since the client may feel that the counsellor has an agenda, or the counsellor may feel they can move onto another topic, and the client still isn't able to because they may not feel happy to move on in this manner.

The interesting thing about this is that my mother-in-law is a counsellor who uses a wider variety of skills, including hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic-programming. She explained that only in certain circumstances has she used guiding statements to empower her clients.

On a personal note, I gave over my weekend to go with my father to see my grandfather in hospital in Plymouth - since I saw it as a son's duty. When we were in the ward one of the other patients, another old gentleman, pulled back his covers and seemed to be in some agitation. Although I saw this, I took the decision to ignore him (not wanting to get involved in a potential misunderstanding with a schizophrenic/halucinating man). It took for my father to notice and to find out what the man wanted (to call a nurse to take him to the toilet, because he couldn't find his buzzer) before he was helped. I need to learn to forgo my fear of embarrassments as it hampers the needs of others around me. I am of the belief that it is my responsibility as soon as I am aware of a problem.

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