Karen Lloyd: When we come to criterion 8 we're going to ask you to use a 1,000 words or up to 1,000 words [now 1,400 words] in order to tell us about your current way of working.
Now you will have already told us in the earlier part of your application about your training that you've done in the past and you’ve then told us about some CPD that you’ve undertaken. When you come to criterion 8 it's asking you to tell us how you actually work in the counselling room today. So this might actually be different to the original core training that you did. So your practice evolves doesn't it as you, the longer you work and as you mature. So we're asking you to give us a rationale for what you do.
This is again, I must emphasise, is not an academic piece of work. We are asking you to tell us what you do and why you do it and to reference the theories that you use to underpin your work. This part of the application form I sometimes make the analogy of it being similar to how people achieve their driving licence today. Not when I did my driving licence because I'm so old, well they didn’t do this in my day, but nowadays you have to do a theory test first and then the examiner gets in the car and watches you drive.
For this part of the application what we’re asking you to do is to tell us in criterion 8 in theory how do you work and then for criterion 9 we are asking you to demonstrate it in practice by using some case material.
Now 8.1 is quite challenging because many clients, many applicants these days do have quite a portfolio of clients and then they work slightly differently in slightly different ways. We want you to tell us about all the client work that you do and we want you to tell us how you work with those clients. If you are working with a particular specialist group of clients, and your original training didn't cover that particular client group, we need you to tell us here in criterion 8.1 how you have gained the knowledge and understanding to enable you to work safely with this group of clients. So, for example, if you are working with children and young people we want you to tell us here about your knowledge and understanding that enables you to work with children. What are the special considerations that you need to take account of? Similarly, if you're working with addictions, all couples, etc we would want you to be able to tell us that you have a rationale, a clear rationale for that work that you are doing.
For criterion 8.2 we’re asking you to tell us about the place of your self-awareness within that way of working. So again we're asking you to make reference to the theories or the type of modality that you're using. If you, for example, are a psychodynamic therapist we’ll be expecting you to talk about transference and countertransference here. If you are a systemic therapist we will be expecting you to talk about reflexivity and so on and so forth. But the self-awareness element is really important which is why we've already asked you about it in criterion 7 and we’re asking you again about it here. In theory how do you use yourself in the counselling room? Then we also want you to tell us in theory how you understand issues of difference and equality and what impact those have upon your therapeutic relationships in general. So we’re not asking in this particular part for you to submit any case material, this is a general overview in theory of how you work.
We're going to do a little exercise later on when I ask you to have a think about your rationale and to start articulating it to us. The thing to remember is you don't have to put any quotes in, the word count is tight. You can put a quote in from a theorist if you want to support what you're writing but we're not asking you to necessarily. And sometimes in large sections where you're quoting from a theorist can actually take up quite a lot of your word count, and we're interested in your own description of your way of working rather than agreeing with one of the theorists when they said X, Y and Z. Usually we have quite a lot of people that say they work integratively, because generally people have trained in one core modality and then, as they've gone into their placement or they have gone into working for different agencies, they've been directed to work in a slightly different way to the way in which they were, they trained originally. So a lot of the work that therapists undertake today we do understand, you know it's time limited, they may be working in an NHS setting where they are being asked to use a CBT way of working and so on and so forth. So if you are going to say that you're working integratively we need to know what it is that you integrate, and usually people would have one core modality that would underpin their way of working into which they would integrate other things. If you're working integratively, you do need to be able to tell us what it is you integrate and how you're able to integrate those different theories, particularly if on paper those different theories look very different from each other.
For 8.2 we then want you to tell us more specifically how you conceptualise the place of your own self-awareness within that counselling relationship. And for 8.3 we want you to describe to us how issues of difference and equality impact upon your therapeutic relationships. If I can offer you a tip about 8.3, what I would say is try and avoid writing what I call a diversity statement. Do you know what I mean by diversity statement? Can anybody give me an example?
Delegate: Is it something that you might see, what’s a requirement in a job advert?
Karen Lloyd: Yes, absolutely. Often companies will make a statement that they treat all their employees for instance equally and they will make a list of the different types of diversity that they are required by law not to discriminate against. So they might make a statement that they treat everybody equally regardless of age, sexual orientation, religion etc. When you are putting in your submission I'm going to discourage you from writing something along those lines because we do get therapists that will write 'in my counselling practice I have counselled' and then they’ll make a list of diverse clients that they have counselled. That actually doesn't demonstrate to us your knowledge and understanding of how issues of difference and equality impact upon your therapeutic relationships.
We do get quite a lot if therapists that are working with children and young people and it is a huge topic, and we want you to tell us your understanding of the differences between working with your adult clients and working with children. So there are things about how you are perceived, whether you are perceived as being part of the education infrastructure or some children feel that they have been sent to see the counsellor for instance don’t they? So there are things about autonomy, there are things about safeguarding, there are things about limits to confidentiality and we want our therapists to be very aware of that, and this would be the space to tell us about that if you are working with children and young people.
So it’s not just about working with people with disabilities or people from different cultures and religions. Of course that is important ,but there is quite a range of issues of difference and equality that come up for us in the counselling room.
We are going to have a look now at .. a closer look at criterion 8.1 and as I said I'm going to ask you to do a little experiential exercise now for the purposes of getting you to really focus on the way in which you work. So we’re interested in what you do and why you do it. Just to repeat we don't want you to be regurgitating large swathes of theory, we want you to talk about, the real you, what would we see and hear you doing in the counselling room if we were able to sit in there with you.
So with that in mind I'm going to ask you to split into two smaller groups and you’re going to take it in turns to just verbalise your rationale to your colleagues that are listening, and your colleagues are going to be able to ask one or two questions just for the purposes of clarification if they're not familiar with the way in which you're working. So this is the equivalent really of you writing your 8.1 submission. The benefit of having your peer professionals here today is that they can just get you to clarify what you're saying about the way in which you're working and why you're doing it. Obviously from the assessor point of view when we are at home we don't have the luxury of being able to ask you a question if we don't quite understand what you've said to us. So this is a great opportunity for you to have some consultation with a peer professional and try and articulate the way in which you work.
Now again it's not an academic exercise. If you had a client who phoned you up and said, I think I need some counselling but I've never been to counselling before, can you tell me a bit about how you would work if I came to see you? You would most likely be able to explain to the client what you would be doing and what they could expect, so that's really what we want you to replicate here. So if I can just ask you to move your chairs then into two smaller groups and one person in the group is going to capture what you're saying. So you are going to move around. You can have five minutes each to just talk about your rationale and the other two people in the group are going to be listening and one person is going to be trying to capture as much as they can of what you're saying. You're not going to write everything down but don't worry about that. Don't worry about handwriting, we are not concerned either when we get your submission or indeed today about grammar, spelling, anything like that. Just capture as much as you can in note form and then hand it to the person who has been speaking at the end of five minutes. The reason why asking you to do that is because when you go away from here today you will then have some notes and the basis on which to start writing your response to criterion 8.1.
Don't spend too much of your time talking about the clients. Quite often when we walk around the room on these workshops what we hear is people giving an awful lot of background information about the clients they’re working with. Remember what we’re interested in is you as a therapist and what you are actually doing and, as Caroline said, how your approach might vary between your different client groups.
At this stage you may want to stop the video and if there is a colleague nearby try describing your way of working to a colleague or a peer professional. Alternatively you may try to write down your way of working or speak it into a recording device and perhaps discuss this with your clinical supervisor.
I think this is probably one of the developmental aspects of applying for accreditation is that it does make you stop and reflect on what you are actually doing and why you're doing it. And I was using the analogy back to driving while I was talking to one of my colleagues over lunch, that when you've been driving for a while you kind of get in the car and you get to your destination and, if it's a familiar route you're probably not always so cognisant of how you got there and what you did along the way. When you're in the counselling room, sometimes I think because you’ve been practising for quite a while, by the time you apply for accreditation you're not always thinking about exactly what you're doing. So, this exercise is a bit like somebody saying to you, can you describe to me how you got here today? You would be able to go back wouldn't you and you’d be able to outline the journey and the twists and turns that you made and perhaps whether you were changing gear at certain times and braking and all the rest of it. So this is about asking you to stop and think why you do whatever it is you're doing in the counselling room with reference to the theories that underpin your way of working. So the theories are quite important, and more important to talk about how you work and which theories you are drawing on rather than to talk about the clients, and also more important to talk about what you're actually doing today in the counselling room than to talk about your journey to becoming a counsellor. Lots of people do use a lot of their word count telling us how they came to be a counsellor which is always very interesting to read but it's not what we’re asking you for in criterion 8. Do remember to include in your rationale any specialist knowledge that you have gained which is enabling you to work safely with any particularly vulnerable groups such as children and young people.