Introduction to Counselling Skills
Today, I thought I would write about the course I am studying – Introduction to Counselling Skills. It has been a journey of discovery and I have experienced many ‘ups and downs’. As mentioned in a previous blog, I had my employment terminated exactly one year ago and claimed unfair dismissal which was settled out of court at the end of July. However, even though I have applied for many jobs similar to my previous role, I have not been successful. During the first few months of being unemployed, I tried to keep busy and cleaned out all my cupboards, etc. Then COVID hit and people started losing their jobs too which made job hunting even more difficult. Therefore, in May after undergoing a great deal of soul searching and addressing my strengths, one being ‘listening’, I decided to enrol on the Counselling Course.
I started in September and attend college one morning per week. It is a class of fifteen students aged between thirty and sixty years old and sadly, there is only one male student in the class. We practise our helping skills in groups of three, where one is the helper, another the helpee and the third person is the observer. It is all very straight forward but I struggle when I am a helper and have to communicate empathic understanding! It would be so much easier if I could hold up an emoji face because saying, I’m feeling that …’ or ‘I’m hearing that …’ does not come easy. I have no problem with listening, asking open questions or summarising but it’s not in my nature to connect in this way. I have never spoken about being on the autistic spectrum to other people but for the first time, I thought I needed to in order to explain why I was different and struggling. To say that I have stepped out of my comfort zone is an understatement. However, I have persevered and I believe that I have become more self-aware over the past couple of months.
There are three weeks left, and all but one student is intending to enrol on the next level course. At this point, I do not know whether I want to continue. Much will depend on whether I have passed the coursework and how I manage when being observed by the tutor this week. We have to recite a contract at the beginning of the helping session and I usually get so nervous, my mind goes blank and I muddle my lines. At home, I can recite it word for word and without any mistakes!
‘Counselling for Toads’
One of the recommended books to read was ‘Counselling for Toads’ (based on Toad from Wind in the Willows). If I get anything from this course, it will be what I learnt from this book. Unfortunately, I could relate to Toad in many ways but the content has opened my eyes and I now have a totally different outlook on relationships, both personal and professional. Hopefully, in the new year, I will have a new job and be able to use the knowledge and skills I have now acquired.