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.