Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The work on ethics was an interesting subject, in the case of my group, relating a fourteen year-old girl coming to a GP Counsellor because of her wish to have an abortion and her mother who has recently discovered her daughter is coming along and wants to know why.

In the counsellor role, I could do nothing but iterate that without the daughter’s consent for the mother to know anything about her reasons for coming to see me, the law had tied my hands. There would never be any way for the parent to discover the reason without the daughter’s express permission. This is an acute example of a domestic world interacting in a turbulent capacity with the legal world, placing the counsellor in a difficult ethical position.

On the one hand the girl would benefit from her parent’s support if they knew what was going on, possibly being given validation on a choice they thought they didn’t have. On the other hand, despite the girl being under the age of consent and requiring a parent’s signature for standard surgery, in the eyes of the law, her rights stand.

The counsellor’s position is simply not to respond to answers. In the case of where a parent may phone up for confirmation that their child is attending meetings with the counsellor, a response must be made that neither admits, nor lies, since it is no one’s business whether the child is or is not going.

This raises the issue for me that if I were the parent I would want to know, but then, the counsellor may be the only point of objective contact the child has, and if the counsellor were to break the ethical and moral code, that child’s faith would be lost and perhaps next time they wouldn’t speak to anyone.

For me, the roleplay was of interest for another reason. Despite my history of acting, and performing in front of people, I always get myself worked up about doing so, even if it is waiting in line to speak my mind or say my piece. I thought it would be the same waiting in line to do the roleplay, especially since everyone else seemed to be doing really well with theirs, and my group had planned as much. I was surprised therefore to find that I wasn’t bothered about doing it at all. My hear rate remained the same and I didn’t feel breathless – a physical change in myself, I belief, from a feeling that I am accepted in the group and not to be judged by any of them. Feeling laughed at and judged is something I have always felt since school. Although I have never let it stop me from doing what I want, it has always made me anxious and set my adrenaline pumping.

I had worked at one of the borough’s library branches late on Monday before going to college and had to deal with insollant and rude children. This led me to feel seriously anxious since it is an ongoing problem, and not one that I can resolve myself.

A task on giving our neighbour a compliment, as part of a discussion on strokes led to most people seeming slightly embarrased at accepting the positive comment that had been said to them. People tend to feel wary of compliments, for various reasons. This highlights an issue where some people cannot accept compliments and don't have the emotional capacity to deal with them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reading the book Dibs about a boy who everybody thinks is mentally retarded and requires psychotherapy, has highlighted to me how little I know about the use of counselling skills at this stage. At every step throughout the progress between Dibs and his psychotherapist, my own choices about when and how I believe the psychotherapist should react and question the child has been completely out of kilter with what Dibs actually needs and what the therapist actually does. My emotional attachment to the child, my empathy and sympathy grew fairly quickly into the narrative so that at every page I was aware of when my sympathy wanted to over step the boundaries of Dibs's needs and really showed that I was being driven by my own agenda to straighten him out rather than concentrating upon his agenda - necessary development. I must focus upon developing my empathy and holding my sympathy back.

Further to this I can see the relationship development between Dibs and his therapist, and see the use of empathic response to engage and interact with the child. It is this kind of empathic delivery that I haven't been using in the practical work. I have been told that I haven't appeared as much in the way of empathic towards the person in the helpee role. Again, I see that empathic response is supposed to be an acknowledgement of feelings.

Separate to this, I have been watching a television program on weddings, which has highlighted not a prejudice, but a fear: a man marrying and having relations with a transexual woman who has recently undergone a sex change operation. I had thought myself competent to withhold my reaction, but upon watching the program I was shocked to find that I had a very real physical reaction - my skin crawled; it made me shiver; I felt disgusted as if nature had been corrupted by this change and this relationship between the two people.

I feel awful because of my reaction, and my previous thinking that I wasn't closed to the thought that anyone can be who they want to be. But this reaction shows to me that I have a fear of meeting and interacting with a transexual, and not because I think they might fancy me. At this time I believe it stems from my perception that it changes the rules of engagement and interaction. These ideas aren't fully formed and are difficult to pinpoint because I'm not presented with the situation myself, but it is something to be aware of: a black spot reaction that if presented to me, will require a measured, careful response accompanied by thought.