What it’s like to study at Diploma Level
Below you will find a number of Personal Journal entries made by students at the start, middle and end of their 2 years of Counsellor Training. There are also a number of photographs and some poems.
We hope this small collection of student work, anonymously contributed will provide you with some insight into what studying on a diploma course is like; the journey and its outcomes for individuals.
A Journal Entry
I look back on the last 3 months and I am already laughing at myself; how ignorant I was … I really thought that with all my life experience I did not need to take this course, thought that I should be given the Diploma without needing to do the course. I have learnt so much that these last months seem like years, its hard, very, very hard learning all I have done about myself and others … and now I have nothing but respect for anyone who has completed a Diploma in Counselling. Hah! is this at last the rudiments of wisdom or the birth of humility in me?
Creative Work of the Students
Another Journal Entry
I hated the conflict which broke out in Community (Encounter Group) this evening between 2 people whom I really care about. I don’t have a problem being in conflict myself with someone else but have realised I find it really difficult to see others get angry with each other; this is especially true when I care about both people.
I sat on this realisation for a while after getting home and I sort of think this is connected with seeing my parents argue when I was a child, I loved them both but could do nothing to stop them when they were ‘mad’ with each other. I remember one time my dad throwing an ice cream wafer at my mum and it splodge all over the TV then he stormed out of the house. My mum got me to run after him cause it was raining hard and he did not have a coat on … I could not get him to take the coat which I ran down the road holding and I could not make him come home … I felt a real failure … I’d let my mum down and my dad did not love me enough to come back with me … I am crying now.
He did come home about an hour later all wet from the rain and they hugged each other and mum ran a bath for him but they forgot about me and I was left on my own. I guess watching arguments that others are having often makes me feel left out and also fearful that the individuals will not cope and that I should help somehow but have no power to effect a positive outcome.
Students engage in a bonding excercises
All stand up - all sit down
A poem: To those I owe a debt
To those I owe a debt,
You know who you are,
Those who have stayed with me when I’ve felt alone,
Those who have cried with me, held me, understood me and walked in my shoes,
Those who have taught me, learnt from me and been with me,
Through laughter, tears, anger, vulnerability, joy and sorrow,
Through song, drama, talking and sometimes just being,
I have learnt great lessons,
This has enabled me to grow and break free,
Of the constraints constructed many years ago,
I know that I’m not alone when I say this,
I remember watching you when I felt I could see no more,
Listening to you when I felt that I could hear no more,
Feeling like I had never felt before
So many times, places, people and events,
I remember …
Sitting by a lake, feeling the wind on my face like it was the first time,
Feeling you like a ray of sunshine,
Your glance in community,
Scrounging a fag in the outside air,
The camaraderie of the lodge,
The PPD and our placement,
Squirming under your positive feedback, when I was in the chair,
Deciding not to let things go unsaid,
Accepting the games that I play,
Identifying with your ambivalence,
Feeling your fear of vulnerability as my own,
Accepting you when you felt that nobody else did,
I scratch the surface and mention a few,
Like pebbles on the beach —
I feel them underfoot but can’t name them all …
You watched me as I opened my eyes, and bared my soul,
You gave me compassion, love and all that is good,
You sat with my filth and desperation but didn’t push me away,
I shared your strength,
In the eye of the storm there is nothing but stillness,
How it rages outside, on my inside,
As I know it sometimes does with you,
I thank you for giving me that part of you,
I will always own those memories,
And through being there with you,
I was there with me,
I’ve walked a long and troublesome road,
Many times along the way I have stumbled,
Many times along the way I have been privileged to be stumbled upon,
And now I feel great loss,
But I embrace it as the necessary cost,
For the valuables bestowed upon me,
Through shock, denial and gradual realisation,
I begin to grieve,
I look back on the last two years with a wry smile,
‘How is this task done?’ people will ask me
And as I initially denied it could happen to me,
They may not believe me when I say,
To be in that turbulent process is the only way …
Who was that person who walked in the door, all that time ago?
It was me,
Who is that person walking out of the door now?
It is me,
Please don’t ask me to describe, in its entirety
How, where or why,
Through not doing this, it is done,
You know the truth, as do I,
Now it is time to say farewell, catch you later, hasta luego and come back real soon,
The debt I feel fills the room,
I accept that debt with thanks,
And in my heart of hearts I know,
That you won’t chase me if I never pay it back,
It was given and is received as it should be.
Visualisation: Making Peace With My Past
From a Student to a Tutor
You took me to a place I once knew and stayed close by. Your words empowered me, like the sound of a gentle Caribbean
breeze gently swaying the mango leaves. Your words brought a sense of calmness so congruent encouraging me to carry on.
You stood at the narrow pathway, while I searched the dark fog. I searched to find my home but it was no longer there. The banana trees, the mangoes and the coconut trees they have all disappeared.
In the front garden where mamma’s begonias and marigolds once bloom lay bare before me — all the crotons and hibiscus that once hid me from the outer world were shrivelled and grey. I searched in the darkness for the life I once knew - but nothing -yet I felt no fear for I knew you were there with me.
I search to find myself but all that was left was a shadow of the person I was. I heard your empathic voice so clear so real. I trusted you so I carried on. Then, five roads cascaded before me and all the light that was lost shines brightly between them.
A sense of serenity, a sense of happiness and freedom encapsulated me making me whole once more. For the road I once travelled does not have a hold on me anymore. You have allowed me to make peace with my past.
Meal time on a Residential Weekend
Another Personal Journal Entry
THE END …
I’m going to take a huge risk and just trust that what I’m about to do is going to be okay. I haven’t been able to write in my journal for months … I’ve spoken to my peers and they all reassure me that they hadn’t been able to find the time either, but time wasn’t the cause for me. I’ve taken this issue to my personal therapy because it’s been bothering me so much, and I did so much processing in my sessions; all of which I promised myself that I’d come home and write but never did.
I just didn’t get how come my most comfortable form of self expression and exploration wasn’t working for me any more and I just couldn’t find the words to write. No matter how busy I was (even if I let a few weeks go by) I always made time to write because it was my sanctuary on the course, my safe place. Here I’m able to be real without fear, and yet all that stopped.
I wrote my development essay a few months ago and that combined with my tutor’s feedback, enabled the penny to drop. I haven’t been writing because there was no need … for such a long time I thought that I was stuck in my process because I couldn’t put my thoughts down in black and white, but I haven’t stopped at all. I didn’t stop and I wasn’t stuck, I just used other areas to work through my stuff, I asked my peers for advice (something I’d never really done before) I used my personal therapy as an outlet to process as well as my Personal and Professional Development Group. Although I know and am trying to accept that processes were occurring within me, it still feels a bit hard for me to get my head around that fact that I just wasn’t able to use my journal as I have done previously. There’s so much that’s happened:
• Research- working my ass of with my peers to do something that I believe in and feeling like I’ve made a positive contribution by looking at schizophrenia and its mis-diagnosis in black men. The dynamics of working with a group and managing intense feelings of anger, resentment, pride and love.
• National Conference - being completely struck by how white and female the profession that I’m joining is, and being so aware that I want to work towards enabling the BACP to be so much more diverse than it is (in whatever small way that I can).
• Overcoming personal challenges, like getting the new job that I applied for and increasing my wage by over £11,000 a year and working with young offenders and their families, within my community.
• Learning to love myself (slowly but surely) I actually see myself now … that’s been painful, long and so much hard work, but I had amazing support and I’ve made it.
There’s so much more that I could say, but I won't. I don’t need to … I just can’t believe how far I’ve come. I’m nearly at the end and when I look at the transformation in myself and the people that I’ve shared a journey with, I feel so proud. Bloody hell its hard writing now because I’m crying and the key pad and screen is blurry … I realise that I’ve come this far because of love. I have experienced love, understanding, compassion, I’ve been challenged by others and myself and I’m still standing. I faced my fears, allowed myself to be vulnerable; I allowed myself to have feelings without fighting them or trying to explain them away, and I’m still standing. I experienced indescribable emotional pain, have believed that I couldn’t complete this course, that I wasn’t good enough to be a counsellor, or much of anything else. I have believed myself to be so lost in my stuff that I’d drown … but I didn’t sink, I swam and I’m still standing. I allowed people to love me, offer me support and in turn I allowed myself to be me, to offer a kind word, give a hug, or a stern talking too, whatever I felt the person needed to be felt and understood, I did all that and I’m still standing. I’ve completed all my work and didn’t have a heart- attack because of the pressure of balancing work and studying. … and I am still standing.
I can see me now, see who I am and how much I’ve evolved whilst acknowledging that I’ve got a long way to go, the difference is that I believe in myself now in a way that didn’t exist before. I don’t have to fake it, I’m actually starting to see, know, feel and value my worth and I owe ALL of that to the course and every single individual on it … . AND I’M STILL STANDING!
Enough said … … … … … … … . …
The Weekend Residential Venue: Crowhurst Park Views