In this issue
Starting from scratch in Malaysia
Hazel McClure reflects on setting up a counselling service for third-culture children
The house of counselling
CYP trainings are often in the extension. Katherine Porter explains why
Them and us – the dangers
The importance of cultural competence. Interview with Carolyn Mumby
Trained to supervise
Augene Nanning reports on being an archeologist, helicopter pilot and journalist all at once
…is the solution, not the problem, says Lynn Martin
Lorraine Sherman believes that the art of a compassionate response lies in neither over-identifying nor closing off emotionally
Altruism is inborn but can be sidelined, says Graham Music
Reflecting on… what I do
Alex Williams on adolescent counselling
From the chair
Welcome from the editor
In wild flower gardens, speedwell will be in the majority group, making a daffodil feel out of place. When I lived in Leeds, having friends from 30 nationalities was instructional in making me remember and think about my white middle-class background and cultural difference – I wasn’t often in the majority group locally.
Moving to the northern wilds removed that obvious marker but left me for a while – perhaps more warily – in a minority among the more subtle but nevertheless strong cultural groupings of, for instance, children of the ex-mining communities struggling to find new identities and livelihoods and still expressing their parents’ and grandparents’ anger; large numbers of pupils from Eastern Europe who would suddenly break into their native languages and leave me feeling vulnerable and awkward; and a farming community whose young people had lived through the traumatic extermination of their cattle due to foot and mouth.
Diversity is a fact of life and, however obvious or hidden, will always need to be considered and dialogued with. For this reason, it was a privilege to interview Carolyn Mumby about the training she offers counsellors and other professionals in cultural competence. It’s always good to revisit what we think we know about, as I had to when I moved.
Hazel McClure clearly managed to consider all these issues when moving east and setting up a counselling service in a Malaysian international school. She has dialogued with diversity and difference to make the service a useful tool for the third-culture children she works with – a topic she will continue to write about in the next issue.
Good training will always include work around difference, and we have articles on setting up a CYP training (Katherine Porter) and surviving a challenging supervision course (Augene Nanning). I hope it feels worthwhile to look at these basic building blocks of what we do – and also at two rather more nebulous but important and relevant blocks: the proven innate capacity of infants to show altruism, compassion and prosocial tendencies if they are allowed to develop ‘naturally’ (Graham Music), and the challenge to us as counsellors to show our compassion in a considered and effective way (Lorraine Sherman). But practical issues are also addressed, and Lynn Martin believes – as most of us do, I hope – that self-injury is a solution that works for clients in some way we need to understand. The question then, she says, is how do we respond appropriately?
How do you deal with self-injury? With diversity? With your add-on trainings? How have you found your values and cultural assumptions challenged or questioned in the course of your work? This journal is the place where I’d love to create discussion about the issues raised and hear what concerns you in our counselling arena. For which ‘Letters’ would be the ideal place to contribute. Besides, when there is silence, I begin to feel like speedwell in a border of daffodils!
If you read this in time, please do say hello at the London conference on Saturday 8 June.