It had to happen sooner or later, after coasting along for the first few weeks, being excited by what was to come, the new way of learning etc. it’s time for the drop on this emotional rollercoaster. Currently riding through fear, apprehension, denial and general loss of control.
I have finally started personal therapy and it is interesting to say the least. My course requires me to have 40 hours therapy and at least 10 before I can go onto placement. I had been putting off going these past few months as I knew I needed to have some when starting the Diploma. Oh what a silly mistake that was. I thought that training to become a counsellor whilst having my first experience of counselling would make it easier, but that is not the case. My head is always trying to work out feelings or emotions as a counsellor rather than as a client and I have to say I’m knackered! Now the therapy has been very helpful in ways I didn’t imagine. My role plays have become more relaxed, some of my defensive behaviours in awkward situations (as role plays are) are diminished and I’m able to be more natural in the setting rather than trying to fit a script.
All very positive you might think, but hey, this is me after all. After having what I would consider a successful role play in which I hit some criteria and checked off some points for my certificate of competency (enables me to go onto placement) I went into a full on freak out. The abstract concept of actually being someone’s counsellor suddenly came roaring up into my consciousness as more requirements were ticked off, I found points raised in personal therapy difficult to reflect on which led to anger towards my therapist and in fact the whole profession. I felt attacked, that everything about me, likes, hobbies, behaviours were laden with conditions and that I needed to change. I felt very defensive and the overriding thought was, what if I change so much I don’t like who I become? Now this response was disproportionate to what was actually being discussed as I’m aware that change has to happen and welcome the development but it plagued my thoughts for the week between sessions. Add into the mix a revealing presentation I was required to give at college and the rollercoaster kept going down.
So I was having a full identity crisis along with fretting about something that isn’t happening for at least 5 months in addition to working, volunteering and trying to look after my family. I have gone from having 3-4 ‘free’ days a week to having 1 and I’ve not yet found the balance. For example usually by now I would have bought and wrapped all Christmas presents (I work in retail so it’s my busiest time of year is my defence) yet I’ve done none, my family recently tidied the house top to toe with a slight look of fear in their eyes after I ‘gently’ proclaimed that no one was supporting me.
So now I realise the importance of self-care, In the middle of this ‘episode’ I called on a friend to go for drinks. An evening of chatter and cocktails really did me the world of good but there was still a bit too much on my plate. So I decided to book some time off from volunteering, sadly something had to give and right now this was the only area I could cut back on but taking care of me has to become a priority.
Just having an extra day to myself really helped me feel more like ‘me’, I talked through my challenges with my counsellor and even got some shopping done.
Despite already completing 2 years of study I really didn’t appreciate just how difficult this level would be, it isn’t the workload but what the course brings up, it really does force you to look at every aspect of yourself and how it could impact on client work and that is not easy.
However I don’t want this piece to seem like the rollercoaster is on a permanent downward track, there are times where it peaks and I can really see myself doing this and the value in the journey so far, I can see in the distance the track getting higher, I know I am resilient enough to do the work required to make it to the end of the ride
...changes to the course have just been communicated, so it looks like I’m strapping myself in for another ride!
Leila Foster is 34, a mother of two, volunteers at a rough sleepers drop in and works part time. In addition to being a student counsellor at Basingstoke College of Technology, studying Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling. She has completed CPCAB Level 2 in Counselling Skills and CPCAB Level 3 in Counselling Studies.