ISPC International Society of Psychotherapy and Counselling

Towards Therapeutic Sustainability

Counselling Training by Zoe Burnett

Counselling Training


A look into what one counselling student has learnt on her journey so far….

18 weeks ago, we walked through that door,

Eager and excited, to see what was in store.

Eight strangers with different interests and goals,

But helping others lies deep, within each of our souls.

We started to learn the core conditions, qualities and skills,

Practicing them in triads, learning the drills.

Making mistakes, learning from each other as we go,

Absorbing it all as our self-awareness starts to Grow.

Empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence lie within the core,

Helping the client feel welcome, the second they walk through the door.

Empathy means understanding the world from the client’s perspective,

imagining the world in their shoes could be really Effective.

Unconditional positive regard, means accepting them for who they are,

Their qualities, mannerisms and opinions no matter how bizarre.

Congruence is being true to yourself, genuine and transparent,

Being fake and not real, will become really apparent.

The skills needed for counselling, followed on from there,

From listening wholeheartedly, to being self-aware.

Active listening means being totally present, focused and tuning in,

What is the client saying, their body language and what could be going in within?

Paraphrasing and summarising, giving it back so the client feels herd,

Listened to, respected, validated, but also a chance for them to reword.

Asking open questions, as we go continue to explore,

This will open things up and help them to understand More.

It will keep the client talking and encourage them to really think,

What is actually going on for them, as you work together in sync 

Enhanced empathy for when you notice a feeling unexpressed,

From their tone of voice, manner, body language, suggesting something suppressed.

Closed questions may be used for a direct yes or no,

But tread carefully, don’t lead and know where you want to go.

Knowing when to challenge, if ready and be gentle,

Launching straight in, or too soon, could be quite detrimental.

Immediacy can be used, feeding back your perception and feeling,

What’s going on for the counsellor, could this help with the healing?

Knowing when to use silence, stay quiet and still

Letting the client feel their emotions, sit with them, before they spill.

Having that open body language, inviting the client in,

Feet on the floor, arms unfolded a gentle nod, friendly grin.

Explore understand and action, Egan’s model of three stages,

Explore and understanding may feel like it goes round in Phases.

Allowing the client to create their own actions and plans,

Putting their unique recovery journeys directly into their hands.

We discussed contracting and what needs to be included,

Safeguarding, timings, boundaries to be concluded.

Payments, safety and when confidentiality may be broken,

But everything else stays within the room that is spoken.

Arena, blind spot, facade and the unknown,

The Johari window, we have also been shown.

Exploring what may or may not be seen,

To ourselves to others and everything in-between.

Transactional analysis, parent adult and child,

The way we react to others, who drives us wild,

Alter the ego state to solve an emotional matter,

Disarm them almost and their attitude may shatter.

As a counsellor it’s vital you leave your own problems at the door,

Park it, put it to the side, pick it up at the end, from the floor,

Work on it in your own time, your supervisor could help too,

Your own dramas and worries, work them all thoroughly through.

We have also explored the qualities a counsellor may need,

What may be natural and areas to work on, to grow like a seed.

Qualities may include, kindness, being calm, having empathy and understanding,

being non-judgemental, accepting and self-awareness that keeps expanding.

Having that open body language and the ability to build rapport,

These will help the client feel safe while they do understand and explore.

It’s not about having the answers or simply giving advice,

your opinions will differ and may not be Precise,

Allow the client to come up with solutions on their own,

Simply be there, listen, respect every moan and groan.

Phrases like if I were you, Is unhelpful in so many ways, 

Invalidating, suggesting superiority, it’s best not to use these clichés,

It will put up a barrier and stop the client from taking pride,

Again, allow them to take charge of their own life and let them decide.

Having regular supervision is super important too,

Discuss concerns, where you may be stuck and what is going on for you,

Someone to ring if safeguarding concerns arise,

An experienced counsellor, full of knowledge and who’s wise.

We explored transference, how we may be acting,

It could cause the client or counsellor to be somewhat distracting,

Remind one another of someone we may know,

Which may cause us to act like the other is a friend or foe.

The importance of journaling, making sense of the muddling mind,

Who knows what you may discover, what you may well find?

Turning over the stones in the depth of your soul,

Expanding awareness, about yourself, on the whole.

But the biggest lesson I have personally learnt so far,

Is something unexpected and still feels quite bizarre,

But it’s the journey inside, my heart and my soul,

My need for perfection, to please and control.

Looking at why I act the ways that I do,

Rules and previous versions of myself I have actually outgrew,

Getting stuck in drama triangles, I can recognise now,

Setting boundaries and saying no, I’m still learning how.

But the journey of self-discovery is only just beginning,

I’m excited most of all about this, scared, but grinning,

Stepping into this journey with curiosity and an open mind,

Finally deciding how I want to see my self-defined. 

So, as we continue this journey together as one,

I want to say thank you for making it fun,

For being there for one another when feeling vulnerable and scared,

Thank you for being so open and for everything you have shared.

What a rollercoaster of emotions we have been on so far,

So, thank you each and every one of you, for being such a superstar.

The Spoken Word – Zoe Burnett

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