Why do I want to be a counsellor?

I haven’t really blogged before about why I am retraining to become a counsellor. Partly because the question seems so personal. It goes to the core of who I am and what I want out of life. Also, a lot of what happens in class and in the experiential workshops involves other people , which would not be appropriate to talk about outside of that setting.

As I started University this weekend the question of why I want to be a counsellor has played on my mind. To not write about my personal journey seems wrong as if I am withholding part of my life.

So why do I want to become a counsellor?

Because I think I would be good at it. I find people and the stories we tell ourselves fascinating. In the darkest of times, counselling has been a life line for me. Sitting opposite somebody who had no investment in my life and to who I could tell anything was extraordinarily liberating. Watching how my counsellor was with me, was the first time I realised that this was something I could do.

But I put it off for years. I was too fucked up. I was too young. I hadn’t done a psychology degree. It was too expensive. It wasn’t the right time. How would I fit it around work? The excuses were endless.

Looking back maybe I was right, but I was also terrified of trying and failing.

Then last spring a colleague mentioned in passing that she was doing an Introductory Counselling course. I felt consumed by envy. I wanted to do that! So I did.

Walking into a room full of strangers and saying I wanted to be a counsellor was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Skipping the small talk and starting to learning about people from their insides out was hard. It took me a long time to get back into the rhythm of studying again.

But then I got sick and I had to have an operation missing the penultimate session. If I missed another I would fail the course. So seven days after my operation, my stomach swollen and bruised, I left my house for the first time to go into the college. I wanted to be a counsellor that much.

I passed and did further courses. A year later I applied for the degree at the University of Brighton. It was very competitive and I was warned I was unlikely to get in the first time I applied.

In the interview, which at times strayed more therapy than an interview they asked if I would still want to me a counsellor  ‘If my sister had not been hit by that car’. The question threw me so much that I was certain afterwards that I had flunked the interview. Because how can I ever know who I would be without that? What ifs are particularly unhelpful. It happened and that shaped me into who I am today.

They offered me a place and this weekend we had our first two-day teaching block. One of the tutors said that on her introductory course, the tutor begun by saying: ‘You are all here because you failed your first two patients.’

Meaning your parent’s. Ouch. When she said that, it struck such a chord in me, because I did. It has taken me years to realise that I am not responsible for helping anybody else. For a very long time, subsuming myself to help other people was the only way I knew of being in the world. As if unless I had a purpose, people would not like me.

Which is to use counselling parlance, bullshit.

Learning to resist that urge to ‘help’, to ‘rescue’, to ‘save’ is something I still struggle with and perhaps I always will. In the end, every counsellors learns that you can’t help anybody. All you can do is be alone in a room with another and listen and hope that through that process of being heard they can help themselves. This is what I hope to accomplish, sitting with that feeling of helplessness and being OK with it.

Wish me luck?

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7 thoughts on “Why do I want to be a counsellor?

  1. This has been the most inspiring thing I have read in regard to counselling and the journey. I am hopefully starting my 2 year diploma in Sept and this has made me want to do it even more..yes it’s emotionally draining sometimes but so worth it! xx

    1. Thanks Michelle. Really glad you enjoyed it. Training to be a counselling is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and the most rewarding. Drop me a line to let me know how you are getting on your course in September. Would be lovely to hear x

  2. very inspiring i did a pastoral counselling and i thought to continues indeed it is so rewarding just to see somebody being restored after going through a difficult times,it can be sickness,death,or even a separation with the family,being there to listen is more than money..well done dear would love to hear from you again..bless you .

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