Posts Tagged ‘training’

Thinky thoughts.

October 13, 2008

On my way into work this morning, I was thinking about opportunities I’ve had – and turned down. I think it’s quite natural to look at things you decided against (for whatever reason), and I’m not sure why it popped into my mind.

You may or may not know I was offered the role of Clinical Supervisor for the company I used to be a counsellor for. Their therapists/counsellors work with at-risk young people in the inner city. I’m sure I probably wrote about it here, but not quite sure enough! I think I started to think about this because TMD is considering going for a supervisory role at her job, and this led me to thinking about my past experiences as a supervisor/manager – which were not in the therapy world, though were for a very therapeutic space (camp).

My last year with camp was 2002, after I’d already moved abroad to This New Country. It’s been a long time since I was a proper supervisor, though I acted as a senior member of staff at Day Job on occasion, and I wonder when that role will step back into my life. So of course I thought about the role I’d turned down, and you know what? I didn’t feel bad.

Focusing on TMD, our relationship, and our (hopefully) upcoming pregnancy seems more important right now than wondering when or if I’ll widen my counselling sphere to include other types of work. I’ve been offered teaching roles on training courses, and I wonder what my ‘niche’ will be. Though everyone around me is a family therapist or training to be one, I have no interest in further studying this area. (Did I say ‘further’? I meant ‘ever.’)

I still puzzle – how do I like being a family therapist so much when it’s an area I don’t really care for? I think much of it is down to Joy and Green, and the whole atmosphere that we create with the people we work with. Our office is about as non-officey as you can imagine. We want the people we work with to feel comfortable in this space, for it to really be a shared, creative place. This is what I like, and of course I do love working with the wide spread of people who come through the doors.

I am definitely not a goal-oriented type counsellor – or person, really. I make my crazy list of things to do in an effort to help me ‘control’ my day, but really I am happiest when I’m  bumbling along, trusting that things will just work out.

My list for this week is pretty hardcore. I am going to have to tear myself away from blogging at this instant so that I can manage to cross something off in the next hour.

Love to you all!

Differences between individual and family therapy – to the therapist, anyway.

October 10, 2008

Just had my first official review at Operation Fingerpaint. Don’t think it could have gone better, really. When the first sentence out of your manager’s mouth is that it is a joy to have you there, there’s nowhere to go but up!

Let’s see. She doesn’t have a name yet. Let’s call my manager Joy, shall we? So, after Joy said what a joy I was, she then went on to talk about how I bring a fabulous energy to the team, that I fit in so well, and that my clinical work is excellent.

This is a particular relief as she directly observed me with a client this week, so she’s seen how I conduct myself with clients. Of course, every client is different and each relationship with me varies accordingly, but I often feel I present such a confident, capable air – and that people don’t know how crap I am behind closed doors. Joy said she has no worries about my clinical work, and that she didn’t even before the observation. She said she hasn’t felt she has needed to offer me a high level of support, as I was (predictably) confident and capable.

I think that’s part of the unique nature of family therapy. While most counselling/therapy takes place one-to-one, family therapy is a bit different. I didn’t train specifically to be a family therapist, so apologies for any mistakes that follow!

Traditionally, family therapy would have the therapist in the room with the couple/family. Another therapist, or a panel of them, would sit behind a screen. They would observe how things were going and then ring into the session via telephone. The queer therapy service I worked for before had something similar, but with each session being broadcast via a camera. Utterly bizarre, I feel, although theorectically I guess I can see why it would be useful.

At Operation Fingerpaint, we also use co-counselling as a model. The difference is that both therapists are in the room with the family, and everyone works together collaboratively. Everything is transparent – if any person in the room wants to offer feedback or an opinion, that happens. This meshes much better with my own beliefs about when therapy is most effective – a lot of my beliefs centering around transparency when appropriate, authenticity, and building a strong relationship with the people who walk into the consulting room.

Co-working can be threatening to people who trained as a regular counsellor. This is because counselling always has an air of mysteriousness. People who aren’t counsellors don’t know what happens behind closed doors – and many clients don’t know what happens in the therapist’s mind/body during the session. In this way, counsellors are are brilliant or crap as anyone else in their work – except I would argue that the people who are crap are causing more harm than, say, a crap telemarketer.

Co-working means that suddenly you’ve got another person in the room with you – you both see exactly how the other person interacts with clients, you need to figure out a balance and rhythm for sharing the work, you’ll both have different reactions to the people you work with. I’m beginning to get the hang of it, and also starting to appreciate the value in having another mind there to share the observing, thinking, acting. Still, it’s a breath of fresh air to occasionally still do one-to-one stuff – but even that changes once you have met and have close relationships with everyone in the family.

It seems to add a different quality to the work, a better working knowledge of where that individual comes from, and a surer thoughtfulness when offering comments.

Joy said I am very much client-centred, and that’s such an important part of my own processes as a counsellor in the room with people. While I’ve got all my handy theoretical backing and hypothesis, the person/people opposite me the whole of their lived experience – an incomparable thing, I think. I’m glad that even though I’m working in such a different way to what I’ve been used to, I’m still me.

Existere. A counsellor, but also human.

It all comes back to poop or food in the end. (alternate title: back to honesty)

August 26, 2008

So. I’m hanging around those forums again.

I’m in the miserable bit of them, the place where writers go to moan, express their negative opinions of themselves, etc. You know, thought I would just like to be around like-minded people. Ha. (Or not.)

Thing is, I keep seeing the same themes cropping up – even on the I Am The Best Writer Ever threads. People talking about writing scenes in the middle of summer because they forgot their book takes place in winter. Main characters ‘writing emails’ to the authors – whatever the fuck that means. All sorts of lunatic crap, basically, that makes me wonder: am I so alien to these feelings because I am not a real writer, or am I so alien to these feelings because I am?

I should probably be all therapeutic with myself and point out that different people do things differently, and that’s okay. But sod all the therapy talk – that’s my job, not my secret emotional angsty world. Though I admit that studying therapy, undergoing two years of therapy, and doing therapy with people for the last three (?) years has made me irritatinly calm and wise. I use the word ‘wise’ to mean that I am okay with myself and other people’s sloppiness, mistakes, and glories. They are all part of life.

But in relation to writing? I am simultaneously judging these poor people online, and also worrying that I am not a ‘normal’ enough writer. How’s that for angst?

In the meantime, I have just dropped a fuckload of chinese noodles all over my desk.

I also ate wild blackberries this morning.

July 30, 2008

My mother is very excited about the fact that I might Move Back Home One Day, and I think my sister has gotten into it as well. All of this from an innocent  email wondering if my qualifcations are transferrable to that country, which stemmed from the idea that I definitely want to do more training in a couple of years. While waiting for the train this morning, I thought about these two places. Past Country and Present Country, with no clear winner of which would win the title of Future Country, if either.

It occured to me that I have never been a real grown up in Past Country. In this place I live now, I’ve had actual adult jobs, completed two postgraduate courses, bought a house, bought a car, lived a grown-up life with my grown-up wife, etc. What do I really know about Past Country? I’m not even totally clear on the types of jobs availble for working with young people, for example (excluding the obvious ones). TMD has said she would move back into the camping field should we move there, and this morning I was thinking – is it possible for me to be happy if she works in that type of job?

And that’s even if a camp is happy to take on not just the suberbly qualified TMD, but also her lesbian partner and their children. It’s been a long time since I’ve faced the type of discrimination that is inherent in Past Country. The sort that is so thick and murky fingers reach into every area of your life. Would I want to live in that environment? Raise my children there?

The simple fact is, I think I am more comfortable in Present Country. While it was a huge culture shock to move here originally, and I faced feeling really low for the first couple of years, now I have grown up and into this place. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to live in Past Country. In all sorts of fantastical fantasy ways I would prefer it, hands-down. But is it possible? I don’t know.

All of this is completely arbitrary discussion anyway, as we would not move there until there was a national policy on immigration with regards to same-sex marriage. But the way things are going, that could either be much sooner than we ever predicted – or decades away. I’m not sure. Those of you living in a country where gay marriage is not legal and therefore immigration is a bitch, what is the vibe?

23 minute train ride.

July 29, 2008

A recap:

The first time I heard the term ‘wet dream’ I was in fifth grade, standing at the bottom of a skiing hill termed as ‘expert.’ It was just after the dinner break in my weekly skiing lessons (for four years), and the sixth graders had just started their sex ed lessons.

A year later I was most disappointed to find out that sex ed really was nothing more exciting than a one hour lesson so boring I can’t even remember it today.

I am an accredited sexual health worker, specialising in working with young people. In fact, I’m accredited at the highest level it is possible to be. I am also a counsellor, a fake special education teacher, a camp director, a writer. Do I really want to train to be a psychologist?

My sign language skills have flown out of my head than they ever flew out of my fingers.

Everything seemed much more disconnected on the train. Here it seems logical, the way things join up. Still, I know I am missing a lot of what happened on the train. Ah, John Mayor (Mayer?), your music couples so well with my green tree-d morning ride.

Start as you mean to go on.

June 18, 2008

At work – started Monday and only worked a half day, and then had yesterday off for my teenage counselling gig. So, today’s the first full day!

I love it here.

Did I stutter? I. love. it. here.

Things are very slow paced and reflective, so much thought and care is put into everything, and they gave me flowers. Let’s also not forget the numerous office supplies that were laid out for me on my new giant desk. Shivers of delight!

I had clinical supervision this morning and just kept thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m getting paid to be in group supervision.’ It feels a little like a miracle.

Another miracle is the huge range and scope of therapeutic intervention; I am going to be flexing my therapy muscles every single day and building new ones! Just having a read through the operations manual, and can barely restrain my delight at some of the phrases. I am finally here, this is where my training led, I am a real counsellor.

My training was my gipetto, my last job was my whale (okay, analogy getting a bit blurred here), and now I am a real boy!

That last sentence was so gross I judge myself.

Still, miracles.

At camp we had two staff shirts (designed by me, kids!), and the back of one said, ‘Magic happens every day.’ For me, right here and now, magic might just be this airy office.

Topic 2. Or, lessons in loving your life.

June 6, 2008

Yesterday I had my last supervision group with the women I’ve been working with for just over a year now. (More endings, anyone?)  My supervisor has been away for about five weeks, and so we’ve been having peer supervision.

(Supervision is when a counsellor brings their clinical work for discussion. This is within a small group – like three counsellors and one supervisor – or just one-to-one with a supervisor. Peer supervision is when counsellors offer ‘supervision’ to each other.)

I love my group, and thank god I do since I get the most wacked up things happening with clients. My supervisor came back yesterday, and I filled her in on a particular person I am seeing. I concluded with, ‘It’s just….surreal, yes, surreal.’

My supervisor leaned forward and said, ‘You engage very well with the surreal.’ This made me laugh, as I feel my entire life can sometimes be a surrealist painting, fucked up images that just don’t make sense floating by. I love it, you know. I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to engage with the surreal, quite frankly.

No, I can’t tell you what this particular sort of surreal is, as confidentiality is a biggie. But trust me, it’s good.

My supervisor went on to say, ‘Many counsellors choose to ignore surreal things that happen in or out of the room. They don’t know how to deal with it, are afraid of it, or just confused by it. I love that you actively engage with it, are so curious, and so open.’

I replied by saying I suspected I invite the surreal in, since I always seem to have a larger helping of it than other people in the consulting room.

Was sort of sad to say goodbye to that group, but will be seeing my supervisor twice more before I leave that counselling placement altogether. She wants to see how this case turns out, you see. I don’t blame her.

She also told me that I have brought a very strong energy to the group, and to preserve who I am and how open I am with questioning things in the future. She said that I am ‘uniquely me’; while I wasn’t entirely clear about specific things she was referring to, it felt nice to hear. I sometimes worry I am sliding downhill as a therapist, particularly without the constant input of learning that a class offers. I worry I am not good enough, that somehow I trick people into thinking I’m a fabulous (albeit very new) therapist.

Still, as long as the surreal continues and I can have a laugh about it, I suppose it’ll all be okay.

Happy endings suit you?

April 16, 2008

After the interview yesterday, I sat in my chair for the remainder of the afternoon. I love that chair, but I think if I sat in it long enough I might go a little bit crazy. The hope is that I would go crazy enough to ignite great artistic musings, but not crazy enough to try to carve my initials on my fingernails.

When Aussie and TMD got home, I popped outside and we hung out on the sidewalk like a bunch of teengers. I looked awesome – still in my very nice interview outfit from the waist up, and then wearing sweatpants from some camp and Mickey Mouse crocs. HOT. And not just how I looked – I didn’t wear a coat and it sure felt fine.

We decided to walk down to the pub for one drink, because I needed to get out – my fingernails were starting to ask for initial carving. As we we were walking, I just slid open my phone…and saw I’d missed a call. ‘Motherfucker!’ I gasped. ‘It’s them. It’s the interview people.’ I listened to the message, which said the manager would be in the office till six – and it was 6:20. I rang anyway, left a message, and spent an agonising couple of hours trying not to let myself hope too hard.

None of us could figure out why they would be calling if not to offer me the job, and I knew that intellectually, but emotionally, I actually tried hard to cut myself off. The woman had said she would ring back first thing this morning, so I made sure to hold my phone in my hands all the way to Epilady’s school (where I worked from today).

Epilady was helpful.  ‘It’s 9:58. Boy, it seems like it’s been 9:58 a long time……Okay, it’s still 9:58. It must be almost 9:59 by now.’

At 10:02 I slid open my phone – and realised I had somehow turned it off while clutching it on the way to work. I actually howled in anguish. Turned it on, and yep – message from the lady again. She was laughing, which is always a good sign.

Called them back…and…I was offered the position.

I don’t know how to impress upon you all exactly how fucking momentous this is. It’s done my self-esteem a whole lotta good. Basically, there are probably tens of thousands of qualified counsellors in my city. I keep a close eye on jobs, and there are – at best – a handful of jobs available every month or so. Most of these are part-time. As you can imagine, it’s very competitive.

To have landed a full time therapist post exactly one day after picking up my qualification is something else. I now have to send in copies of my certificates/degrees, and part of me is worried they won’t want me, that it’s some sort of mistake, that they didn’t realise I was fresh out of the therapy training barn. But then, you know what? I think they love me. And I think I might get to find out what it’s like to have a full time job I really, really like.

All I know is that when I was leaving Epilady’s school today, I suddenly thought, ‘This is it. I’m a real therapist. I have a real job as a therapist. I’m not just saying the word anymore, it’s actually what I do.’

And I feel really happy for the first time in a good long while.

Send it my way, folks.

April 15, 2008

I don’t know. Just got home from the interview (the first of 2008, and hopefully not the first of a long string) and am feeling odd. This job wouldn’t be my passion, but I do think I’d really, really enjoy it. It’s the job I told Kleinette about when we discussed visualising an ideal job. Not this specific job, you understand, but I said I wanted to work for a charity, with a very small team, in a therapeutic capacity. This ticks all the boxes. I’d be one of four staff in a building with lots of natual light, warm and committed co-workers, and toys strewn about all over the place.

Not too shabby.

I don’t feel I nailed the interview. In a bizarre way, it didn’t feel like an interview at all – not for a ‘real’ job, anyway. It felt like I was simply interviewing for another counselling placement.

I do hope I get this. I have managed to keep my mouth shut at work, as TMD always has encouraged me to do. Many of those people know I have interviewed for about 10,000 jobs and never gotten one. I feel quite good about keeping it to myself. Plus, it would be like throwing a surprise party to tell people I was leaving. We’re all meeting up for drinks Thursday, and I should know by then.

I have told some people at my Monday night party/counselling gig. I showed everyone my professional certificate stating I was a qualified counsellor, and the office manager asked, ‘How will you celebrate?’ I said, ‘With this job interview I’ve got tomorrow.’

Job or not, it does feel fairly amazing to have been interviewed for a therapist post the day after I received my final qualification stuff. Nicely timed. If you pray/chant/mumble/etc, might you consider throwing some positive hope and light my way? I would really like to get this job and welcome all support to do so….and if I don’t get the job, I may need to borrow light from other people for a couple of days.

I am ready to fly, fly, fly away from Day Job. This new job might not be ‘ideal’, but as Epilady says, ‘It’s an ideal stepping stone.’ Plus, I would like it. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a job I liked.

(Oh, and in case you mised my casual reference – I’M A QUALIFIED COUNSELLOR now. That is all.)


S is for supervisor – or IS it?

April 4, 2008

One thing I worked really hard on with S for the past two years was about not being so self-reliant. (S was my supervisor for the last two years of my course.) She basically made the point, again and again, that how could she support me if I never showed her I needed support?

Well, I just had supervision with S2 – my supervisor for the paid job. I had a really frustrating week there this week, including some criticisms leveled at me. I didn’t want to tell S2 for fear of being judged (I’m paying HER?) , but I wanted to tell her because I felt so terrible. I worked up to it, and near the end of the phone call I told her.

She offered such love and reassurance – comfort, really. I’m happy I told her.

Perhaps S was really, really right.