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CHAPTER SIXTEEN: What might block my progress?

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

AS DISCUSSED EARLIER, although all therapists have the same objective, namely to enable you to develop your life skills, they set about this in one of a number of different ways. It may well be that a particular methodology doesn't work for you, in which case you could find yourself becoming frustrated and stuck. This is one reason why it is worthwhile checking with the counsellor how they work before starting. If you feel their approach might not be right for you, it may be better to look for someone else.

Major organizations, such as The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, define the ethical framework for good practice in great detail, covering responsibilities to clients, the moral codes which counsellors shouldobserve, and the overall quality of care they should provide. The vast majority of counselors adhere closely to these guidelines and practice high standards of professional conduct. But you may feel uneasy for other, less immediately definable reasons; a sense of an innuendo, or a remark you may perceive as having erotic overtones.

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CHAPTER ONE: Beginnings

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

It seems only right that we start with Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), the Big Bang from which all psychotherapy emerged. He’ll almost certainly be the first authority you’ll be introduced to if you go on a counselling course. But although a huge influence on the development of psychotherapy, he didn’t emerge from a vacuum, or practice in isolation. Before Freud, superstition and magic were often believed to be the prime controllers of mental functions. A contemporary of Freud, William Walter Atkinson (1862–1932), in his book Mind and Body or Mental States and Physical Conditions, published in 1910, observed: “Mental Healing operates under a thousand names, forms and theories in every race, nation and clime in all ages past and present”.1 This remains true to this day. Proof of this can be found in an incident as recently as 2007 in which the actress Phyllida Law had two gargoyles stolen from her garden. She erected a notice warning that she had put a hex on the culprit. Some time later, the statues were returned, with a note from the thief pleading her to lift the curse as he had been very ill since he stole the gargoyles. Law duly put up another notice: “Thank you for returning the statues. All curses lifted.”2

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CHAPTER SIX: Inter-relationships

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

On the face of it, Eric Berne (1910–1970) might not have been expected to bring about a significant new approach to psychotherapy. He had wanted to practice psychoanalysis, and trained at the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute. But when he completed his course in 1956, he was loftily advised that he was not yet ready for membership of the academy and should do further study before reapplying. This was far from the disaster that it might have been, as Eric Berne was spurred into pursuing his long-held ambition to develop a completely new approach to psychotherapy.

He was in accord with Freud that human nature is comprised of interlinked components which affect our behaviour and attitudes. Freud, you will recall, identified three such elements: the id, ego, and super-ego. The id he saw as the basic animal in us; the ego, a part of us that devises strategies to achieve the demands of the id; and the super-ego, which represents our conscience and moral code.

But Berne wanted to move away from abstract analogies and metaphors. For him if a theory was to have true validity, it must be observable; that is, you had to be able to see it in action. Perhaps even more importantly, Berne wanted to make psychotherapy more accessible by using concepts and colloquial language that could be understood by everyone, professionals and clients alike. After years of development, he came up with a new approach to psychotherapy, which he called Transactional Analysis, or TA.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: What qualifications should a counsellor have?

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

SURPRISINGLY, there is presently no legal requirement for someone advertising themselves as a counsellor to have any qualifications. The Health Professions Council, (HPC) the government body that could be responsible for licensing counsellors, does not presently have a category for them. The HPC is currently in discussion with The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and other organizations to draw up the criteria for counsellors to be licensed. But there is a strong body of opinion contending that psychotherapy is not a branch of medicine and that, in any event, the HPC is not the right regulator for the job.

In practice, this is not really a problem as reputable therapists belong to one or other ofthe recognized professional counselling bodies, all of which have strict codes of ethics. These set out in fine detail the standards and responsibilities to which their members must adhere when counselling their clients. Counselling organizations have their own websites which specify the requirements of membership and conduct. Proof of registration can be obtained from the establishment of which counsellors say they are a member.

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CHAPTER FOUR: What does counselling set out to do?

Jonathan Ingrams Karnac Books ePub

ASKED WHAT they think happens in counselling, people will often describe it as having a chat with someone who will tell you what you've got wrong and give you advice or instructions on how to fix it. But counsellors never tell their clients-the term used to identify those coming for counselling-what to do. Just as well, if you think about it. The last thing we need is to find ourselves scurrying about trying to accommodate someone else's directions. Before long, we would find ourselves powerless to make our own decisions, devastated if we fail to meet their chosen agendas, and attached to them for life!

Counselling is about self-help; an active, collaborative process designed to enable you to explore unresolved issues in a secureenvironment and to better understand why they may be causing you difficulties. It can be bewildering trying to work out how one can have arrived at a particular and perhaps stubborn way of looking at things, particularly if the consequences are clearly unproductive. But the recall of life experiences is selective-it has to be or we'd be swamped with a mass of information, much of it irrelevant. Various emotional factors, or events we perceive as significant, influence what we store in our minds and what we delete from memory. Equally, however, there may be occasions where a crucial moment gets lost but the aftermath remains. A single incident of being bullied at school, perhaps long forgotten, can lead to an unconscious need to please as a form of self-protection which extends into adult life. A failure to make an impact on someone we wanted to impress as a child can lead to the concept that if someone rejects us there must be something wrong with us.

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