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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

In my view: a most ethically dubious and corrupt religion

Updated: Apr 17, 2022

Counselling practise

“You’re a fake and a phoney and I wish that I’d never l wish that I’d never laid eyes on you”

The positive news is that unlike the male half of Grease’s (1978) key players Danny Zuko (John Travolta), I have not been left ‘stranded at the drive in’ in a seminal scene, but I certainly have left feeling equivalent to ‘branded a fool’ by City Lit College’s incompetent Counselling Department.

Like it or lump it – counsellors may extract pleasure from reflecting upon my infantile demonization of things that I don’t supposedly perform well at – the negative view of the supposed counselling education that I most recently received has transcended to that of the entire profession. Doing things by halves has never come naturally. This is in that, to me counselling is a profiteering enterprise preying on making people feel vulnerable in forcing them to believe that they operate better being guided.

This is what I feel almost tars counselling with the same brush as faith-healers, clairvoyants and other mediums, in that they claim to have the elusive ability to serve some nondescript purpose of offering people strength in having greater insight.

Well I would wish them the best, if I had the ability to turn more of a blind eye to the fact that they are projecting from somebody else’s misfortune. However you choose to gloss this up; it is the truth.

It may work for some. There are of course people that claim that counselling has really helped them to handle whatever issues or demons that they may have. Of course it can. Yet, helping people to handle their life is something that religion can seem to do effectively for some, as are medicinal along with recreational drugs for others. As an atheist, I am careful to keep an open mind. I may not adhere myself to Richard Dawkin’s militancy in the God Delusion (2006), yet I would consider that there not being a shred of binding evidence to suggest that there is any higher power has parables between proof that can be produced to support counselling theory. It is a belief.

It is what makes counselling such a contested trade and places it in the tremendously fragile position that always beckons it leap to the defence if ever been criticised. All too classic wishy-washy lines such as “well that’s your interpretation”, or “you’re just gas lighting” can easily work to undermine and diminish your understanding of things. Flexibility is something that I’d always commend, but I terms of counselling, I can’t help but feel that it is just a clever cover-up for serving no real long-term healthy purpose.

I have first-hand experience of words being fed into my mouth and ending up agreeing with them, just to try to ease the discomfort and stilted atmosphere caused by the counsellor barking up of the wrong tree along with misinterpreting what I am saying.

Then if you proceed by alerting them to missing the point at any stage, it is then implied that there are things that you are too uncomfortable with to talk about. Anytime that you do feel forced to express disagreement with the counsellor ‘defensive’ is a state that you’ll be deemed to exist.

People who practise or are training within the profession shall merely roll their eyes and I dare say, with a combination of pity and smugness, reflect upon how unenlightened I clearly am in my closed mindedness. It's a real clever boon for a practice isn't it, where any criticism of it can automatically be placed onto you for missing something! This is again what so unites the profession with a religion. Any poignant questioning or scrutiny of their effectiveness can automatically be deflected onto you for failing in your understanding in somehow not being able to understand what they are preaching.

This transcends beyond my initial disappointment that I apparently fail to conform to their rigid assessment procedure. Predictably they – as with many other educative institutions – are up against tremendous pressures in having to justify themselves in an almost demeaning assessment. Nonetheless, with the absence of any pastoral care that they provide, I cannot offer much sympathy.

Fundamental to this in my eyes, it the delay of receiving any concrete feedback until the rug being swept from under my feet on the 30th April, without any valid indication of this being the case.

The lack of any constructive feedback being afforded to somebody so keen to put in the work to succeed, with a record of being academically able, my casually being left to fall by the wayside on the course is nothing other than disgraceful.

Our course began on Tuesday the 18th of September 2018. My ‘journey’ – classic ambiguously vague term of theirs that always manages to place some intangible onus onto the person voluntarily parting with resources – was loaded with mixed messages.

Paradoxically, I was told by our infamously inept initial tutor Lurliene Miller on our first termly review meeting on December the 11th 2018 that I was a member of our class that she had the “fullest confidence in succeeding” and that. This was met by a major target given along the lines of me being to increase the trust that I placed within my own ability to succeed and this was given for me to work on over the Christmas Break.

Whilst Lurliene’s sudden and mysterious departure was met with nothing other than widespread relief by my contemporaries, it does not excuse the college’s counselling department’s being in breach of their responsibilities to the students in the first place. As paying customers – controversies on the marketization of education cast aside – we should receive a service and, this is something that I have never felt to arrive. The shelving of any accountability – let along any remorse – through the overseers of a supposedly holistic course whilst lording it above (all too conveniently) us from that all too noticeably superior 6th floor, towering above our 5th floor classroom.

Voicing any areas of concern about the course’s structure or seeking clarification of any elements of the protocol was always met with inefficiency. Having to wait upon the powers that be to offer their condescension at a time of their convenience. As with so many of those parading always being ‘busy’, the eventual response – if it ever came – with always met with their speciality of always being defensively aggressive and hostile. Or just downright rude, in the plainest of terms.

The ringleader of the counselling course at City Lit is Tamikah Celeste Andrew-Thomas. Amongst this inspirational character’s wealth of life-affirming achievements includes the publication of Capacity to Love. It’s not yet received any reviews – mores the pity – although it is entertainingly heralded as “her first forage” into the literary world. I thought that ‘foraging’ was something that hipsters did for mushrooms… ‘Foray’ could work though. It may be less pernickety, but also more worrying for me to be able to draw your attention in the direction of Tamikah’s self-given pledge to help people find their arrogance of a holding a “God given purpose”. Let’s say no more and not be cruel.

The second in command Rev. Delrose Bowes also takes pride in her religious teachings. The internet provides a wealth of evidence of her also being of the cloth. So I deliberately found myself trying to ascribe to a course ran by people of religious authority. Yes that is the humble truth; a large proportion of the money that I invested, funded bible-bashers!

Still, I know that I only have myself to blame for surrendering my principles and beliefs of self-worth to religious zealots and falling victim to their shameless manipulation. For an example of this, at their aloofly structured and organised meeting on the 13th of June, they offered me a place on a person centred (I was for almost a year aboard the Integrative Approaches diploma) course. I was promised to have receive a letter within a week; over a month passed before receiving any further correspondence.

There was a real juxtaposition in their eagerness to ensure that I had paid the £4,399.00 for the course in full and affording me the privilege of receiving their letter allowing me the option of re-enrol for this year’s intake was dated on the 17th of July. A mere £1,599 would be asked for me to pay. An email chasing-up the £796.91 that I owed in arrears was sent to me on the 14th of July; the day after the meeting. Their priorities are clarified through these exchanges.

It is with sadness, that I I have been forced to acknowledge that here is stark evidence of many unavoidable parallels between the therapeutic and religious domains. A most obvious one exists in terms of there being some similarities on the conviction which is placed upon abstract and indefinable hat you have to fall privy to being one of the privileged ‘chosen’ ones to understand. I inadvertently sought for the ability to preach upon a load of mumbo-jumbo to people in a position of susceptibility.

Having spent a small fortune on building up my 30 yearly hours of obligatory therapy – however redundant it felt! – and keeping a personal journal of 22,000+ words. Beyond the consecutive Saturday’s that I invested in training at my revered placement at Caris Bereavement in Islington, I was left feeling hurt and betrayed by my college’s sudden deeming me of “not yet ready to work with clients”.

This his was contrary to my own belief and that of Caris. However, there is no point in focusing on the justified bitterness that I feel towards City Lit. Luckily I have not needed too much hindsight or even self-preservation to see that I have been unwittingly freed. This is from the type of hypocrites that place a huge emphasis on personal responsibility whilst committing themselves to a profession that is founded on convincing people that they require some assistance for it to be found.

The ultimate and astutely convenient allowance of the corrupt way in allowing the licensed faith of pseudo-science to brazenly continue make money by producing damaging spiel. It is this element of the profession that I find most antagonising. Workplace accountability is something that our litigious society has made almost farcical. Yet on the other side of the coin, counselling allows for a great deal of power and influence to be placed in the hands of the under qualified to offer psychological support and the danger of this should not be underestimated.

From my experience in between September 2018 and January 2019, I was receiving therapy from somebody who I found damaging. It took me too long to realise, but therapy always has that invaluable ‘get out of jail-free’ card in that a harmful relationship can always be scapegoated as simply a situation of you being ‘the wrong fit for each other’. This just seems to be the remnant of an incredibly loose way of absconding responsibility within the profession, when it is clearly a lottery as to whether the person that you enter into a therapeutic relationship with can just as easily do as much harm as generating any positive change. This is a risk that I could not recommend taking.

This is especially that it allows a great deal of under-qualified people to exert a great deal of influence. This is almost depraved. Faith healing comparisons come about again. Far from wishing to ever go poo pooing the helping profession, if it works for you and you feel that you are helping people through doing it, then in respect of our free society, go head. It is just far from my cup of tea.

Great therapists responsible for great work certainly exist. Only, for me to become one of them would cause me to prostitute many of my own values that I hold dearest.

See I can now see myself as free from this in that I have now been accepted as a homeless charity worker, with being a secondary school mentor, as a back-up. This seems to me like a beneficial way of using my time that I’d find more resourceful; at least for the time being.

Playing a hymn in line with their culture of dependence, maybe I just need a GOOD therapist to get over the damage that it has caused? Hahaha.

I should just stop being so silly and remind myself that we all need to just respect each other’s opinions, in the full knowledge that this little piece of writing shall ever change anybody’s opinion.

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