After the induction this time last week and the Introduction Workshop Day Saturday, it was time to begin proper and get down to business. The tone was a bit more serious from the tutors and we were reminded we are undertaking a clinical degree. We began all together in our group room. A student had arrived early and decided to put all the chairs in a huge circle like Saturday. The tutors arrived and were like ‘wut’. How does this feel, Holly asked. Weird, I said. So we put them back into rows (not because of my comment but because that’s how it’s done), and discussed in small groups about what makes a good and a bad group, work and fail. This formed the basis of our group agreement to steer us. Key words:
Honest (with discernment)
After some discussion and elaboration, we had a surprise break not on the timetable. So there are three half-hour breaks during the 13:00 to 20:00 day, where I hung out with others, ate my packed lunch in stages, and finally sat in the evening sun next to the old lawn. Lots of places to socialise and places to be quiet in.
The next session was our counselling skills practice, in a group of nine. Small room, and no more default triad work but in twos and one three. Back to 15 minutes, having built up to 40 minutes on level three. Straight back into it – I listened first. We weren’t to ask questions. Very difficult to abstain and I did ask a couple related directly to how she was feeling. She seemed to appreciate the session and gave good feedback, as did our observer. Reaffirmed three months later that I kind of know what I’m doing. Then I spoke, about experiences at Saturday’s workshop, about the novelty of belonging to groups and truly joining in, about being on the course. Quite useful. Too short. In her summary at the end, she (someone else; we switched the groups around) added some assumptions that didn’t quite fit: eg ‘your new self’.
I realised as the day went on how in depth my level three was compared to that at Chichester and elsewhere. Many more assignments, a personal presentation, longer skills sessions, proper assessment, many more hours in the week and at weekends. So I’m in a favourable position, and happy to recap and to build on it.
Another break and then Humanistic Frameworks with David. I like him. We were at the top of the old building, I discovered by looking out of the windows, in a kind of attic room with a row of neo-tudor windows on either side. The class was a broad overview of what a framework is, why we have them, and the humanistic model(s). At the end of the 90 minutes, we discussed in small groups our response: favourable, makes, sense, good that the client is the expert, full of potential, etc – and a little bit about our assumptions.
The last session was our Personal & Professional Development group, now 12 plus Marc the (Gestalt) tutor. We introduced ourselves – wish I’d said a bit more – then an introductory exercise in the circle where we asked a question and others answered by stepping forward. Simple things like: Are you divorced, do you have a pet, are you the oldest sibling? It gave away something of ourselves and exposed commonality and diversity. Connections. Questions I asked: Have you ever lived in a community, are you vegetarian, have you been surfing – plus a couple of secondary questions allowed to filter down further. Then we had a long discussion. I suppose it was a process group. Very little facilitation. It began with someone talking about being asked where we are from, then to identity, then the notion and feeling of home, to safety, then to not feeling at home, on to religious differences, and to not speaking for others – in that order. Some slight conflict when the two who spoke most got into a bit of a pickle, with one touching on sadness, the other ignoring her, to a natural pause, to the first one jumping in to fill the gap by announcing her faith, saying how religion helps, and describing why we all want to be counsellors. Basically filling the gap with theories. The other lady objected to the religion part, I objected to being included in the ‘we’ as in being told why I want to be a counsellor, along with two others who also didn’t like the ‘we’. It kind of ended like that, with the religious lady insisting she would never assume to speak for us, etc.
We had a checkout – not sure we always will. I said again how much I appreciate being on the course and in the group, and that I was glad to know the structure and that the day is not too tiring. I also affirmed that it was okay to have a response as long as we own it, it’s not bad. An interesting beginning to the group. There will be real clashes and breakdowns. In the car park, the religious lady said to me she felt ganged up on and didn’t feel like continuing. Drama! I said do continue and that it’s okay, but please don’t speak for everyone. Maybe she understood.
So that’s a snippet of what the day was like. We have two semesters of ten weeks. Here’s a photo from the 2nd floor balcony of the new Academic Building: