Trainee diary: Counselling Diploma
Well, I said on my last blog that I had my mock exam approaching and that I would tell you all about it. As it turned out it turned out to be quite a comical event, for me anyway!
A few weeks before the written paper we all went off in pairs to record a half hour counselling session. The remit was that it had to be a first session which included both the business and user centred contracts. We were all given scenarios (so I might be in line for a BAFTA later, for my acting skills as various clients), which we had to keep secret from each other. When it was my turn to be the counsellor I was given a piece of paper which mentioned what agency I worked for, the client’s presenting problem and what their name was. However, it wasn’t until I was half way through the recording that my peer mentioned the fact that she was in a wheelchair. This changed things a little and her ‘issue’ about independence took a slightly different slant (light bulb moment) - I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been mentioned on my piece of paper: in a real assessment this would definitely be information a counsellor would be party to. Luckily it didn’t throw me and I was pleased by how the session had gone. I had remembered the contracts and even got some challenge in, plus I felt that empathy was shown by me, so overall not too shabby.
Now let’s skip to two weeks later … we walk into our normal room to be greeted by desks with tape machines and headphones: all good so far (except for the health and safety issues regarding wires everywhere and the men in yellow jackets trying to get more adapters). We sit down, put our tapes in and try to make sure they work … well mine sort of did: I could hear through the left ear but the right was dead, plus the white noise in the background was louder than my client’s voice, so I had to concentrate hard. I was fortunate enough to have someone sitting next to me that knew how to jiggle the headphones in the socket and she got my right ear working … YAY! I was one of the lucky ones - some people couldn’t hear theirs at all and some had to go to other rooms so that they could play it without headphones. It was slightly chaotic … and it made me chuckle. I felt for our tutor, trying to keep everyone happy whilst sorting out all the technical issues: the whole exam just descended into disarray. At this point we decided to go for a break and re-approach it afterwards - we’d all lost the mood.
After the break we did manage to do our mock. I was actually quite happy with the written part; I had remembered more of the ethics and theory than I thought, but my taped session wasn’t as good as I remembered. I cringed a little, but it did give me something to write about for the exam question, “what would I do differently next time?”…
The week after we went through the paper. I am pleased to say that I believe I would have passed the written part, though still not convinced about the tape. That is the beauty of having a mock: I know what changes I have to make for the real thing next year, six weeks and counting! I will be pleased to get the exam part out of the way and at the moment I am not nervous about it, just eager to move onwards and upwards.
I feel that the final year has taken such a long time to arrive - over three years since I started on this journey into counselling - but now it’s here it is flying by. At present I am keeping pace but I am very aware how easily that can change – and I know that some of my peers are struggling with the pressure at the moment and this has an impact on the group. I cannot help sharing their distress. We have all become a part of each other throughout this process: these people know more about how I feel than anyone else on the planet probably and that is huge. I may well never be that cared for ever again, not on that scale. Some people have been reflecting on what will happen when we qualify - what will it be like to be without the others? It is something to ponder on and maybe it reflects how clients might feel when their relationship with their counsellor ends - and as a counsellor this is something I should be mindful of. I have many clients, but my clients only have one counsellor.
On that note I will sign off for now: I have a Christmas holiday to enjoy. I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2011.
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