ISPC International Society of Psychotherapy and Counselling

Towards Therapeutic Sustainability

Journey Through Counselling Training


Personal Account of Becoming Qualified

Many, many years ago, when I first started my Level 2 Counsellor Training, the tutor asked us all what our reasons were for wanting to become counsellors. We all had different reasons as can be expected. “I can help due to my life experiences”. I never thought I would look back at this statement and wonder what I thought ‘helping’ was back then.

What is helping?

That is a question I can now kind of answer with the learning I have undertaken, but only with the perspective I have today. I know that throughout the years the idea of what ‘helping’ is, has changed for me. When i first began I thought that ‘helping’ was knowing everything and pushing for results within my work. The interesting thing about my wisdom at the time was that I found that I was pushing for results in others to reach my standards, and not actually allowing for their autonomy. Light bulb moment of judgements!

These judgements of what was good or bad for others, in my view, only put me in a mind set of right/wrong. Black/White. Creating more judgements internally and externally. This was definitely not helping. Helping can mean just listening, helping can mean just being open enough to allow someone to be themselves and to grow organically. Right now I believe the best help I can be to any one person is to be self aware, of myself. I wonder what it will be in 2 years time? 5 years time?

What does creating judgement mean?

I became aware of impressing my own judgements on others which at the time I believed was ‘OK’, I was ‘right’. But in fact through the years I’ve discovered that the more right I became, the more wrong others became and the more internally I struggled. With honesty and transparency I can now share with you. Before now I couldn’t be honest (at all) whilst I defended my own rights and wrongs. What I discovered of myself was that I was so heavily laden with judgements I couldn’t be empathic. I could only be empathic towards those that shared my world views. Not helpful. And is that even called empathy?

Now that I know this, I am ‘OK’ with recognising that I have judgements, I am ‘not OK’ with not working on what my judgements defend.

Breaking down my own defences: I found that I’ll automatically try and defend my defences. The most scary landscape of my mind is one that I can’t recognise and so I defend the ‘not so useful’ landscape of what I’m defending. If I cant defend myself then I am vulnerable. With Counselling and Professional Development, and Supervision, I found that I had more awareness. With this awareness been able to find acceptance for the things I defended that kept me safe, recognising that I no longer needed my shield and spear. As a result I have so much more energy that can be put into much more helpful pursuits, such as listening.

My journey through counselling training has helped me to understand that I have so many automatic thoughts and attached feelings that looking back at myself on my Level 2 I did not know what ‘helping’ was. What I can tell you now is the more open and honest I am about myself to myself, the less I have to defend. The less I have to defend the more authentic I can be to myself and others- and this then influences how I promote help to others.

The experience and journey of becoming a counsellor has completely changed my life, the people that are in it, the people I choose to allow into it, how I relate to others, and more importantly how I relate to myself. I learned how to free myself from my own pain, a trapped mindset of black and white to a ‘freer real self’ that was just waiting to reveal itself.

​I am completely grateful to all of my clients, supervisors, tutors, family, friends and even strangers who pass through my life for what they each bring into my world. I am no longer in a dark rigid space, I am calm and relaxed with life’s twisting roads of discovery, or at least aware of them…

​Steven Lean – AMISPC Counselling and Hypnotherapy

It maybe useful if you are a student to see a road map of a counselling training pathway to qualified counsellor status. Click here

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