Hello and good sunday everybody, today I recieved a nomination for the Liebster Award by the blog Counselling journal, (thanks you so much btw).
The Liebster award is a recognition given to small bloggers by other small bloggers (max 200 followers), and as such is an absolutely lovely idea.
The rule for the awards are:
1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.
So, a lovely surprise for me, I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by Rita Harvey. Thank you so much, Rita! The Liebster award is a recognition given to small bloggers by other small bloggers (max 200 followers), and as such is an absolutely lovely idea.
The rule for the awards are:
1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog. (http://ritaharvey.wordpress.com)
2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answering the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.
3. Nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
4. Display the Liebster Award logo.
5. No tag back thingys.
So, here are my answers to Rita‘s questions;
1. Describe yourself in 3 words. Thoughtful, Lazy, Sensitive
2. Where would you want to be right now? Having a long lazy sunday morning lie in, in my boyfriend’s bed. You know, coffee and newspapers, not that much reading going on, dozing for a bit, waking up for a bit. I think the stuff that is unsaid probably screams louder than the stuff I’ve said here (!)…
3. Tell me about one of your “dreams”. I sleep very heavily and don’t often remember my dreams at night – only if I have nightmares, as a rule, and truthfully, I haven’t had one of those for some time now. My waking dream though, is one where I am finally qualified in my chosen profession, am living in a house that is actually big enough for us – I can have space, and peace, and a lovely garden to sit in on a sunny day like today. That I finally feel fully secure, both financially and emotionally, and can give my children things that they both need and (sometimes) want too.
4. What’s your favourite childhood story? Where The Wild Things Are – no question! Didn’t even have to think about it – it is one of my favourite books ever. I read it to my own children so often that they hid it from me in the end, they got so sick of it! (wrong way around, that one, isn’t it?)
5. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? First and foremost, University fund for the kids! I do worry about how I am going to fund this when it happens (which is in only a few years time) Payback of all the debts I have accumulated. My family have been more than supportive to me over the last few years whilst I have been in a state of, erm, flux. They deserve treating too! Then, a house for me and the kids; not too big (I hate cleaning) – maybe it would even be time to invite the boyfriend to take the next step and move in with us, if that were to happen?
6. Your favourite animal. Easy, a cat. A domestic house cat. I could very easily become a crazy cat lady. I love the combination of total disdain and total affection that cats give to humans. And they sleep a lot. (Mmmm… sleep…)
7. Your favourite food. Anything with artichoke on/in. Usually italian cuisine. A nice thin pizza works best for me, but salads are good too. I’m not huge on pasta though, or anything carb-like, generally.
8. Your best qualities are… I am fiercely loyal. I work hard when I care about something, and I am what most people would describe as a caring type of person.
9. Your worst qualities are… I can be reckless and impulsive, and get caught up and carried away in ideas, at the expense of everything else around me sometimes. I want to believe in dreams coming true, and so I work hard to make that happen. Too hard sometimes, as it can make me overlook reality.
10.How do you have fun? Being silly! I love being silly! Music gets me high; I sing A LOT (badly). I dance (badly too) I take great pleasure in embarrassing my kids whenever I can – they don’t seem to be phased by it any more, sadly. I love a good book or a good film. I love spending time with friends and family, being silly – that sounds like fun, yes.
11. How do you feel receiving this award? Extremely flattered! Especially being nominated by such an accomplished blogger and therapist. I’m touched that my little old journal is read and enjoyed by anyone else – let alone someone that I respect and admire so much. A real honour. Thanks once again, Rita.
Now, my 11 nominees:
And the 11 questions I would like to ask my nominees;
You find a magic lamp with a genie in, and are granted three wishes. What are they? (You are not allowed to wish for more wishes)
What did you want to be when you were a child?
Who has been the most influential person in your life, and why? What are your three favourite films ever?
What is the best smell in the whole world, to you?
What do you do to relax?
What is your happiest memory?
What is your most treasured possession?
Which websites do you look at most often? Describe your perfect evening to me. What would it involve you doing?
What makes you laugh?
- I Got the Liebster Award! (media-ann-such.com)
- The Liebster Award (aplaceforpoetry.wordpress.com)
- What’s a Liebster Blog Award? (lindathorlakson.wordpress.com)
- Liebster Award – Official Acceptance (jewelammons.wordpress.com)
- Thanks are in order! (writewelldaily.wordpress.com)
- The Liebster Award Nomination – A Thank You (marta87wink.wordpress.com)
- Liebster Award (itsebunite.wordpress.com)
- Books Beauty’s Liebster Award Nominees! (booksbeautyandwhatnot.wordpress.com)
- I is for.. I GOT AN AWARD (wordsandpalabras.wordpress.com)
- Liebster Award X 2!!!! (runningafterale.wordpress.com)
This has been a strange week and I have had real problems writing this journal as a result. The day spent at college, monday, was a day that was dominated with preparation for the forthcoming exam, and completing our practical assessments. All of a sudden I felt overwhelmed with pressure. Pressure and fear. We took a past paper, and even though we have done these before, and I had previously felt quite comfortable with them, this time I struggled, and I mean REALLY struggled with it. The process of articulating all of these actions which, when practised within the counselling room seem to come naturally, almost through intuition or some kind of felt sense, suddenly seemed incredibly difficult. A bit like describing how to breathe. A strange turnaround, because for so many months of this year I have been busy writing about the counselling process, far busier writing about it than actually doing it. These days it is the opposite way around; at present I am counselling six clients a week , and I certainly do not find six hours a week in which to sit down and write. Maybe that is why I struggled?
There is also the thing that I have always hated about exams – the fact that I have to hand write. That means not just that the words are written out by hand, but that they are fixed in their place in a way that they simply aren’t when using a computer. When writing like this, in my journal or in an essay, i will write and edit, rewrite, edit again, cut, paste, jiggle bits around, change words and change sentence structures several times over in the course of one piece of writing. This, in my opinion, makes for a much clearer, more succinct piece of writing – my natural way of speaking is to use far more words than are strictly necessary, and as such, so is my unedited writing voice – this is not good for an exam!
So, I am afraid. Not only am I afraid, but I am quite a self aware person these days – this means that I am aware that I am afraid. This is also not a good thing because, for me, fear breeds more fear. I start off feeling a little anxious, and then start getting anxious about the fact that I am anxious, on top of the original things that I am anxious about, and before you know what is going on, I am having to use techniques that I learnt many years ago in CBT to avoid a panic attack coming on! (Just one of the reasons I am still not a huge fan of CBT, because even though it helps me to deal with anxiety when it comes along, it has done little to help me get to the root of what causes me to suffer from such severe anxiety, and so now – years later – here I am, still suffering , when I really have no good reason to) I think that in previous journals I have mentioned the fact that it took me many attempts to pass my driving test – an example of the same process. Right now I really am feeling that same process going on, and I don’t like it at all. Awareness is supposed to help you deal with things better , supposedly; one of the principles underpinning the whole purpose of counselling. Well, I hate to say it, but this is an occasion for me where I disagree with that statement. Awareness of my anxiety seems to only fuel it further!
So is that why I have found it hard to write this week? Partly, but also I think that the letter that arrived on tuesday morning, from the college, saying that counselling courses were no longer going to be offered, had an impact too. A sudden realisation that not only am I reaching the end of this year’s course, but that I am reaching the end of my time at this college altogether. This was certainly something that had been in the air all day on monday – as a group we had been in good form, but the high spirits felt strained, almost forced at times. For me, it felt like it was getting close to that mania, that bipolar high, that ‘I’m actually really not very happy at all but I just can’t stop behaving in this way because it is just what I have to do right now’ feeling. Maybe a bit of denial at the loss I know I am about to feel? Maybe I am thoroughly determined to enjoy the time I have left, and so feel the need to act in a bit of a slightly over the top, happy, silly kind of way? I don’t know, I really don’t, and I have spent a lot of time this week trying to work it out – equally though, I am aware that every time I have sat down to write this journal I have been unable to get anywhere with it – an unconscious avoidance of having to really acknowledge those feelings, maybe?
It is the end. We are nearing the end of the course, we are facing goodbyes, and the potential endings of the relationships we have formed, and we are reaching a point where we have to make decisions about our future. And that is scary. And I am scared. And I can’t resolve this fear right now – thinking it through doesn’t change it. I am going to have to sit with this, at the very least until after the exam – probably for quite a while after that too, I suspect.
- Notes on Anxiety (danielnester.com)
- Cognitive Restructuring: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Attitude (everydayhealth.com)
- 5 Tips to Minimize Final Exam Anxiety (blogs.psychcentral.com)
I began today feeling okay about things. For me; I feel that recently my placement work has really compounded a lot of the theory work we have been doing, and my confidence as a counsellor has increased. Of course, as my out of college workload has increased I have found less time to spend on my written work, not to mention any relaxation pastimes (I can’t remember the last time I picked up a piece of knitting and sat down for an evening’s TV watching) – but I am okay with that. I am comforted by the knowledge that is the last few weeks of the course now, the final push, so this is what I expected to happen really. Of course, technical issues (like losing an entire weekend’s worth of work due to a computer crash late on sunday night) don’t help matters, but hey – what can you do?
We began by recapping on person centred theory and practise in relation to an existential perspective, and how this should be conveyed in the exam. An exercise on enhanced empathy was enjoyable, even if I did unconsciously put myself in the ‘rebel’ role again in class discussion, and lay myself open to criticism. I always seem to do that, throw a slightly controversial perspective on things – it’s like I just feel the need to mix things up a little bit all the time. The issue debated was; how much of one’s own personality should be brought into the counselling room in a session? Of course a counsellor should always be congruent, I feel this wholeheartedly, and cannot imagine working in any other way now – but I told the group about my placement experience last week, where a moment of silence and reflection in the session had been rudely interrupted by an engine being revved outside (there is a mechanic working directly behind the building). Upon being interrupted, as we were, I felt the client’s annoyance at the noise, and had voiced it, saying (not over aggressively, but with a snark in my voice nonetheless) ‘Oh, will you please be quiet?’ towards the window, where the noise was coming from. This felt appropriate to me to say, as it was what I was picking up from the client, and the client certainly didn’t seem to mind my reaction – he was too cross with the noise to be cross with me. Our moment of reflection had already been broken, and voicing our shared annoyance at that seemed to strengthen our togetherness, to me, and I very much believe, to him as well. The other members of the group were concerned that my voicing of the annoyance might have taken away from his feelings in the moment; that my personality being shown might overshadow his. I listened, and understood what they were saying, but ultimately found that I could not agree – I still feel that therapeutically, it is our relationship that carries the weight of our work, and part of that relationship rests on my personality being involved. Certainly, the session is not about me in any way, shape or form, but to inject a little of me into a reaction doesn’t feel wrong to me. Well, it didn’t, anyway.
After that, we took a long time digesting the concept of Martin Buber’s ‘I-Thou’ construct. This is concerned with the way the individual relates to the rest of the world, bridging the gap between phenomenology and existentialism. Phenomenology involves working within the client’s frame of reference, in the here and now – by linking it with existentialism we take that internal process and link it with their view of the world, their existence and their place in the world. The relationships between objects (meaning literally, objects, or people) can be described as I -It ( a relationship which has no empathy with the object, no real connection) or I-Thou ( a relationship where the object holds a place for the individual, the individual has feelings for it, is connected to it) Once a therapist has ascertained whether there is an I-Thou relationship with an object they can begin to work on the feelings towards it. For example, in the case of an addiction – what is the role of the object the individual is addicted to? Is it a transference relationship? How will the therapist work with that? It gives us, as therapists, tools into empathising on a deeper level and direction for our work. This was brilliant for me, as one of my placements involves counselling addicts in recovery. I felt very excited that this had given me new perspectives to take into supervision with me later this week.
After lunch, we were watching skills videos again; this time it was my turn to be the client in the video – quite a traumatic experience, actually. This particular video had been shot 6 months ago – a lifetime in terms of my learning in my way of being. I couldn’t bear it, and spend the whole duration watching between my fingers, as my hands covered my face in horror. Aside from all of my usual annoyances that I have about watching myself (my weight, my voice etc) I felt a huge sadness at the incongruence conveyed by my past self; I laughed almost all the way through, despite talking about really sad experiences. I presented my information factually, as if I were disconnected from it, yet appearing to be open and okay with my dirty laundry being aired – plainly I wasn’t! I know that this video was made before my medication levels had been really looked at in detail, maybe that played a part, but the overall feeling I had was of someone who lacked self awareness in her whole demeanour, as far away from being an effective counsellor as it is possible to be. Funny, yes – quirky, yes, probably quite nice to be with at a party or something, but not a confidante, not a fellow journeyman. I hope I have moved on as much as I think/want to have, I really do.
Process group was awful. Painful. Literally. My head started hurting towards the end of the video being shown, and built and built throughout one of the quietest, slowest, most torturous process groups ever. Hardly anyone spoke. I know why it was torturous, but I wasn’t going to say. I couldn’t be bothered to – and no one else was going to either. It is because our group has been fragmented, the splits within it have finally been acknowledged – they were out loud during our extra workshop last week. Almost all of the group members were finally present this week – way, way, way too late in the day to change things now, as far as I am concerned. I am not interested in them as participators anymore, I am sorry to say. I ran out of empathy a while ago, having given them the benefit of the doubt again and again. So, as a result there seemed little point in participating in process with them. My head was pounding by then, despite the tablets I took, and after the group had finished, I made my excuses and left the day an hour early, to go home and lie in a dark room. A somatic response to stress, pain, frustration, disappointment? Probably. Definitely. A lack of congruence in not saying anything? Just exhaustion, I think, and a feeling that it is pointless. *sigh*
- The Pursuit of Meaning (volitionsphilosophy.wordpress.com)
I began today feeling completely exhausted! I don’t know if I am a bit under the weather at the moment, or it was because I was up till quite late the night before, writing – but either way, I felt like death. I told everyone at check in, though, and made sure I drank plenty of coffee through the day, in a bid to keep myself alert and participating. Having very nearly not come in, I was glad I did, as the day’s subject matter was introduced – existential counselling – my favourite! I was actually really pleased, for purely selfish reasons, that we would be talking about a subject that already resonated so strongly with me, as I knew it would be more likely to keep me lively for the discussion.
We discussed the basics of existential philosophy, the four givens – death, isolation, freedom and meaninglessness, and expanded as to how those subjects can be further developed for a counselling approach using the four dimensions of human existence – the physical, social, psychological and spiritual realms. The most prominent existential counselling theorists; Rollo May, Irvin Yalom, Emmy Van Deurzen and Mick Cooper, were discussed (I think I have mentioned all of them in previous journals at one point or another – they seem to be the counselling texts I am drawn to and take the most from) and we – the group- read through a few texts together, prompting lots of lively discussion about how we felt about this approach. The exercise that followed from this discussion didn’t sit too well with everybody in the group – maybe it was a little too morbid for some? But for me it was, although emotional, a breeze. We were asked to imagine our death, consider what we would like to have written as our epitaph, imagine our funeral and contemplate our life and death, meditating thoroughly on them. The exercise itself posed no problem for me – I visit these places daily, I think about them constantly. What was harder for me was sharing that with the group. You see, I like to think that I project a fairly sunny disposition, generally – I like to make people laugh, and think – I like to get people talking and enjoying debate, but what I do try not to talk about so much is my own private thoughts, as I feel that they are probably too dark to share.
I had a near death experience 13 years ago when my son was born. My heart stopped beating and I had to be revived, and I had the whole ‘floating above my body, shining white light’ thing that so many others talk of. I didn’t die though – the thing that pulled me back from the peaceful place was the fact that I had just become a mother, and I needed to see my son, and as such I spent the following ten years throwing myself into the role of mother and wife wholeheartedly, up until my divorce, anyway. I think I have also mentioned in previous journals, that I am not what one would describe as a ‘well’ person; constantly anaemic, a crohn’s sufferer and bipolar. I suppose it is living with these things and having been through what I have, that gives me my general questioning outlook on life – what is it all about? Am I living my life the way I want to live it? What if I were to die tomorrow? Or be incapacitated? What things give me meaning? I am quite sure that my experiences have automatically made me confront the concepts of the four givens, so as to not be afraid of them. Although, to a degree, I think that the questioning within me may have always been there – I have always counted Camus, Dostoevsky, Chekhov and Tolstoy among my favourite fictional authors, and I love to read books on philosophy generally.
Anyway, as I said, my funeral has been long planned – all of my close friends and family know what I want, I tell them regularly. The epitaph was a nice follow on from that thought – ideas that I had already toyed with – what I feel I am compared with what I want to be. I have to say that after the many years of therapy I have been in, I don’t feel too incongruent with what I want to be. Of course, I have more I want to achieve – this course would be nice, for starters! I think that the main difference of note between them is the element of ‘fear’ – there are still fears that I have, and such I still don’t feel free to fully pursue the life I want to. But I am getting better at confronting them. Recently I have felt a huge shift within me, I think I have noticeably taken a step closer to being the person I want to be – maybe it is the feeling as the end of the course approaches, or maybe it is the fact that I have been on new ‘mind meds’, and that these ones actually seem to suit me quite well!
The recognition of the emotional journey that I feel i have gone on, the questions that I have asked myself, I think do undoubtedly affect my style within the counselling relationship. Although I have been working from a ‘person centred’ orientation, I feel that the congruence required of the counsellor in this ‘school’ is very much in an ‘existential’ style, and that I do already include my perception of these issues in my style in the counselling room. Likewise, the freedom offered within this approach, the humanistic foundation of considering the client as whole and their experiences, what meaning or lack thereof do they gain from that, the autonomy that both the client and counsellor are aiming for – these correlate with the existential counselling values completely, to me.
Skills practise in the afternoon; being aware that I was using these principles as a place to come from, made me realize that actually this was completely natural to me – this is what I already do. It was a natural, flowing session, like any that I would have with a regular client within my placement. So, well – there I have it – I guess I could describe myself as an existential counsellor, but actually, one of the things that my ‘existential’ approach to myself has taught me is that I don’t like labels particularly, certainly not on myself – so I will hold off on trying to pigeon-hole myself for a while longer yet…
- Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals (danielmiessler.com)
- How to Manage Your Existential Dread in Light of, Oh, Everything (jezebel.com)