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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

Being Counselled

"Well it comes at a perfect time, I don't actually need any therapy" #famouslastwords

As of this September, I embarked upon my Level 4 Integrative Counselling Diploma at City Lit College. The completion of which shall qualify me to practise giving therapy professionally; there is the inevitable cocktail of nerves and trepidation that are accompanied with such an intense course.

It is obligatory to complete 30 hours of therapy during each year of completing this qualification. This is something that I viewed as a welcome requirement. Indeed, as with multiple facets of my life, intellectualising things to, in effect, detach them from me, was easily achieved. Through thoughts such as “obviously, therapists must have recent exposure of being on the receiving end to practise effectively”, I could automatically view this therapy as less personal. Any vulnerability that I felt was masked under the premise of the process being an essential requirement, rather than though any real choice of my own.

Already, I feel the shame at this patronising view of therapy. The naivety in my supposed thought that there could exist the context of entering therapy on an educative basis that should partially divorce you from the degree of self-exposure that you’d otherwise be confronted with; this delusion has been so exposed.

I was actually most guilty of the indulgence in thinking that this therapy could just be a luxurious bonus for me, as I’d “dealt with my issues”.

This is where I feel the need to reintroduce the near-fatal accident that I had experienced. The autobiographical work (also a feature of this website #plug) is what I had written as a “therapeutically cathartic” way of me to deal with this. Through this release, I felt as though I had been cleansed of tribulations from my accident and had attained almost full autonomy in the way in which chose to deal with and react to any statements relating to it'. In a paradoxical sense, it has almost been as if I felt able to be the most sociable lone-ranger!

This way of dealing with it that I employed, was to believe that some elements should always exist within the ether and that as long as I kept a controlled enough grip on Pandora’s Box, they shouldn’t have to leak into my overall well-being. Ironically, it was through the feelings of exclusivity towards my accident, that I had convinced myself of being so open about, which caused me the feelings of the most isolation.

Because I only accepted expressions of any feelings towards my accident provided that they were on my terms. This became apparent as I became exposed to the fact that the version of stability that I was comfortable living with, was only viable to an extent. This was of the variety that all was okay to be explored, provided that my frame of reference was afforded the supposed experience of being ‘right’ about every element of the way I had conducted my life post traumatic brain injury (TBI). There are umpteen cracks present beneath this surface.

Angry with my therapist, is something that I initially was, in the sense that he was seeming to shake-up a box that I could convince myself that I had successfully stabilised. Is this reaction of questioning being forced by somebody other than yourself, always healthy? It is only about a fortnight since I experienced this therapy session, although it seems like a lifetime ago, as I feel that I have been mentally evolving, to such a significant extent since.

I became restless and would just opt to lie-down and felt uncomfortable in the evening following this poignant meeting. Funnily enough, I actually questioned whether I ought to change therapist after our session; though I almost booked the next session immediately after leaving, which must speak for itself.

It was through doing reflecting on this session, that I was able to gravitate much of the reasoning behind the awkward situation that my open-defences akin to “let’s discuss everything relating to my accident using my terms alone!” was placing other people in.

Through analysing this session, I have come to the acute reasoning of that whilst there are admittedly many aspects of my life that I cherish and value, areas of weakness definitely exist.

It is fair to say that I am not from an ilk where there is a tradition of using any therapy. Life is moving an unprecedentedly fast pace and with the aim of becoming a counsellor, I have long surpassed having to challenge my instilled view of therapy being in any way indulgent. Now in progressing to the level of training that I have reached, I welcome anything inducing me to challenge the pathway that I have carved out for myself. If you don’t want to have therapy, then I can’t see there being any cause for you to feel that you should. The benefits of entering anything, seem to me as though they have to come from your own fruition to be of a real benefit to anybody. All that my recent experiences have certainly reminded me of, is that there is nothing so liberating as chartering things from your less stable periphery into light and bringing them into a more comfortable place...

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