Trainee diary: Counselling Diploma
A vocation for transcendence
Unfortunately the above title isn’t uniquely mine - I took it from the book ‘Dark nights of the soul’ (Thomas Moore).
I haven’t been able to write my blog for a while, for two reasons. The first was purely practical: with the workload the diploma is generating at the moment I simply haven’t had the time. Secondly, I have been doing a lot of soul searching, and for once I listened to my needs and took some time out to step back and re-evaluate.
For me this leg of the journey is nearing the end, and in every ending is a new beginning. It will soon be time to put my understanding into something physical. I have gradually been adapting to this by working in my placements, having counselling and going to supervision, but this is a little different. It almost feels like taking greater responsibility for myself. It reminds me of an adolescent leaving home, heading off to create their own future without the guidance of their parents. For nearly four years college has been my parent, with several aunts, uncles and cousins. I am on the threshold of loosening that connection.
As usual there is a parallel in this: we have spent the last three weeks at college going through adolescence, sexuality, midlife and loss - the stages we as humans go through in life as we develop. This is what brought me to Thomas Moore’s book, as it has resonated greatly with me.
I had got to the point of wondering why I was doing this to myself, continuing on this journey. All this self-exploration had taken its toll and I felt like Jonah in the belly of the Whale, defiant of doing what my soul was asking of me. It was a dark night for me, my primal wounding was resurfacing again and I became overwhelmed by feelings of fear and grief. But what I have learnt from this training was to go with it, allow it, so I tried not to put up a fight. Instead I resigned myself to the darkness.
As we worked through the different stages it was like an awakening for me. I found connection and meaning in it, and it felt easier. I am so privileged to be sharing this experience with an amazing group of people: the openness and honesty from students and tutors alike is so refreshing and reassuring for me. Unlike Jonah there are others in the belly with me. They are there for different reasons maybe, and having an individual experience, yet in the dark I feel their warmth and comfort. When I cry they cry with me, and I with them.
As I write this today I am not sure if the Whale has spat me out yet, but I feel different, something is shifting. Our last lesson about loss/grief made a huge impact on me. I noticed how close our feelings can remain to the surface even when we think they have become buried.
To ‘transcend’ means to go beyond, and for me working as a trainee counsellor has certainly made me go further emotionally than I could ever have imagined. Even when I felt that I could go no further it pushed me into the abyss. Uncomfortable but necessary, as this is what makes me a human being instead of a human doing.
Over the next couple of weeks we are starting our self reviews. I enjoy doing these as I get to be involved not only in my own journey, but also in the personal journies of others and it can deepen my understanding of these people. Sometimes what is unearthed can be quite surprising and (usually) moving. It is a very emotive time. one I am sure that I will gain from greatly. This is an ongoing learning curve, and as the title says so eloquently I have chosen a vocation for transcendence, if I allow it.
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