Theory to Practice and Keeping it Personal
Congratulations! You’re embarking on a career in counselling and psychotherapy, a subject I care passionately about.
Having been offered a place at a training establishment, you will understand that there is a course requirement for you to undergo personal therapy with a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist throughout the duration of your course. This may seem or feel like an unnecessary encumbrance added to an already demanding (and costly) training; equally, you may be relived that you will have a place to unload and work through the issues and pressures of an intense course as it impacts on your personal life.
Either way or somewhere in between, choosing a therapist for your training is an important decision. Finding a therapist with an in-depth knowledge of both theory and practice who works within the ethical framework set out by the BACP is essential. It is also vital that you are able to build an effective psychological connection (“working alliance”) with a therapist who sees you as an individual and not just as a student fulfilling a course requirement.
Understanding the theories of Freud, Klein, Bion, Jung, Rogers and others can seem, at first, to be complicated and unconnected to our personal experiences. Gaining an understanding of the vast array of psychological theory and approaches (“modalities”) on offer can often feel impenetrable as each modality arrives with a bewildering language and style of its own.
The use of ourselves and reflection upon ourselves through the experiential processes that make up counsellor training offer invaluable insight as wisdom and provide the competent counsellor sure-footedness when working at relational depth with clients. Seeing the connections, overlaps and relationships between the modalities (and they are there) takes wide experience and learning, hence initial training seeks to concentrate on one primary modality. Gaining an understanding and appreciation of your chosen modality’s underpinning theory is essential, enabling you to grasp meaning from your unconscious worlds. This, in turn, enables counsellors to develop the skills needed to work effectively with those issues that impact upon our client’s lives and, of equal and ethical importance, our own lives. The development of clear boundaries is just such a skill. Working within the BACP ethical framework allows for both the client and the therapist to feel safe and secure within the counselling relationship. The therapist who experiences turbulence and anxiety within their private life and has no skill with or knowledge of boundaries will leak, unethically and potentially toxically, all over their client and is likely to do more damage than good.
Utilising theories and concepts gleaned in a therapeutic relationship presents a different challenge: how to keep the client in the room and not replace them with a set of theories. When working with real people, it is necessary to put the theory around the context and not the other way about. Observing an individual and then attempting to describe this person, a therapist can get lost in their own observations distracted by their own psychopathology and, at the same time, disabusing fragments of others’ theoretics, they can “invent” their client or even develop new words to describe a phenomenon. Within this process, the true person of the client is lost, a victim of the therapist’s desire to fit the person into the theory as if squeezing a square peg into a round hole. “Nothing destroys a good theory quite like the truth”.
Cost of Counselling for Counselling Trainees
With the costs of training within organizations increasing dramatically year on year, once we agree your fee, reassuringly it will not increase during the duration of your course which could be for up to 3 years.