The head of the counselling team at my work placement, seeing me and another student in the team room, observed that we might not know how to do much yet, but our presence at least gave the impression of a well-staffed team. Or words to that effect! I’m very happy, ten days into the placement, to be of any use at all, even if it is principally decorative.
Another member of the first year cohort, who has done some drugs and alcohol counselling in the past, has already found himself doing one-to-one work with clients at his placement. He gives a nice description of the first 60 seconds of his first one-to-one, when the whole course flashed before his eyes, counselling skills, theories of addiction and all. Then things settled down, and it was just him and the client, as it should be.
We’ve just completed a week’s teaching on 12 step and other social support in recovery. For some of us, this was an intensive introduction to 12 step recovery. For others, those with relevant experience to draw on, it was in many ways the high point of the course so far, when personal beliefs were tested under the harsh light of science. We had more than ever to remember to distinguish between personal experience and academic and professional learning, and that can be a challenge.
If students are capable of looking good without knowing how to do things, does it follow that they might sound good using words they don’t necessarily know the meaning of? Am I ready yet to say ideation instead of thoughts, or affect instead of feelings? And what about the big one; “process”? The word acquired a special meaning in the social sciences thanks to Karl Marx, according to the OED, and the very specific meaning it now has in our field is the nature of the interactions between people in small groups. I think! Maybe I should hold off using this one very often until we get to the next course unit – Group Therapy.