Centre News: Practice

June 2017

From Diane Whitmore: I recall a line in a novel which has impacted on me for many years: “In nature, there’s either too little or too much” ….in the sphere of counselling services we respond to the ebb and flow of capacity within our team, the fluctuations in funding, and responding to the challenges of keeping afloat. Today, I’d like to celebrate the flexibility, robustness, graciousness, tenacity, and persistence of all our centre personnel who currently represent us in this very human and natural endeavour!

March 2017

From Diane Whitmore: Our recent training in Dementia revealed the commonality of our experiences and the challenges many will be coping with now and into the future.  It was a very humbling and informative piece of training which will possibly have many ripples into our lives.

November 2016

From Diane Whitmore: After my recent attendance at the Supervisor’s Conference, I was taken by the description of the difference between “the map” (likened to the structure, boundaries, and protocols of the counselling contract) and “the terrain” – what we actually experience in the process.

Finally, congratulations to 2 new graduates, Anne Devine for her degree in social work, and Carole Scarlett for her degree in Childhood Studies.

PST (Psychosexual Therapy)

No Body’s Perfect with Rankin and Alison Lapper – A BBC4  programme this month made fascinating viewing and explored the issues of the selfie culture and people’s sense of identity.

 

September 2016

From Diane Whitmore: Watching the Olympics this month generates so many ideas about practice, application, setting goals, sense of isolation and also of greater belonging……I am using some of these with clients and my own life stage within the centre - a four yearly cycle provides many memories!

One thing which the centre relies on to provide the services are volunteer receptionists, and after 26 years in the recruitment role, Tina Miller is having to adapt to a current shortage across the county – do you know anyone who can fulfil this integral role? Our centre needs you!

PST (Psychosexual Therapy)

One of the great strengths of Relate training has been the inclusion of “talking about sex” in the couples work. One of the challenges for trainee and some experienced counsellors is when to seek more help for sexual problems which are more central to the core problems of the relationship and may benefit from additional assessment. These categories may include pain, complete absence of sexual activity or mismatched appetites.

If you can share with clients, that you have access to colleagues with “additional training”, and seek supervision, that may just assist the conversation. Its ok not to know the answers but be prepared to seek help – great modelling for your clients.

 

May 2016

From Diane Whitmore: Something about keeping fresh and also replaying old adages is part of my challenge in practice and supervision. Trying to help clients with the notion of change finds me repeating the distinction between 1st and 2nd order change and the idea that say a  couple come with gripes such as who does the washing up/putting the bins out every week? Ist order change explores some of the narratives behind this thorny topic and may suggest theories as to why this has become a circular argument: couple arrive with a new rota and feel a bit better! Sense of possibilities about their negotiating skills etc Maintaining this new behaviour is part of the challenge. 2nd order change occurs when each individual understands the part they are playing in this particular behaviour, and begin to take ownership and responsibility and realize some of the issues are more linked to sense of family unfairness, sibling rivalry etc.

PST (Psychosexual Therapy)

I attended a very varied CPD at the Royal society of Medicine at the end of April which encompassed amongst other things, the more scientific research on the role of testosterone, the human story of a patient’s perspective on his journey from prostate cancer and being asked about his sexuality (or not) at various stages of his recovery, to the day to day working at the Charing Cross Gender Reassignment Clinic . I felt fairly exhausted by the length and breadth of the various workshops and also held on to the relational aspect of human sexuality which is what I believe our training, competence and experience supports.

 

February 2016

From Diane Whitmore: Part of my supervision time since the last newsletter has been attending safeguarding training by the local boards which bring together local professionals from social care, health, education, other voluntary organizations. You will notice how often I forward flyers for these courses which are free to attend and which alert us to our fellow helpers in the community of Bedfordshire.

For me, it’s not just directives, emails, protocols, literature that brings forth real meaning about how our work with families, couples, young people – its meeting, talking and sharing ideas in the real world which adds to the privilege of the work. A social worker has a name and a story, so too, does the chair of children’s services and a police worker. Try and meet someone outside of our agency this year!

PST (Psychosexual Therapy)

I was invited to meet Anita Powell of in2Beats radio in January, and had a genuinely good, unhurried experience of a discussion of our range of services with a presenter who had an honest curiosity about Relate. It was broadcast on 2 Thursdays during the month and we are hoping to get a recording for our website. We have also sent out a mailshot to GPs to highlight our service which we have further delineated as “an intimacy programme”.

 

November 2015

From Diane Whitmore: I attended a workshop at the recent Relate Conference, and here is a useful summary of the experience of working through an imaginary case: Jealousy.

Key learning Points:

Defences – stop us from doing things we should do – asking the questions we should ask…………….and “seduce” us into doing things we shouldn’t do. Collusive defences are likely to arise in jealousy cases and it is easy for us to get caught up in those as counsellors, and as supervisors.

Question for counsellors –

What have I not told my supervisor about this case?

How do I feel about these clients – who am I taking sides with?

Do I feel like rescuing one of the partners?

About clients : How congruent is the client’s behaviour/demeanour with  their description of their presenting problem/ distress? i.e which emotion/s is/are missing, and, therefore, suppressed

Questions for Supervisors –

What am I feeling in response to my supervisee? What might this tell me about their case ( or about my relationship with them? )

Is my supervisee behaving congruently –i.e responding as you would expect to the case s/he is describing?

Questions for all of us –

How does my own experience of threesomes influence my response to jealousy/affairs in casework?

PST (Psychosexual Therapy)

As we welcome a new cohort of students to the centre, let’s think about how we talk about sex and sexuality in casework – when is it helpful to refer for a meeting with a sex therapist?  Who was it who said that sex is the royal road to the unconscious?  At the start of my counselling journey, Bedford Relate did not have a “clinic” and relied on the pioneering attitude of a counsellor Della Pickles, who also worked for the Agony aunt of the Sun, to get the ball rolling in our centre. Since then we have trained about 10 therapists – 3 of whom are still working here: please get to know us – myself, John Dixon and Karen Luke.

May 2015

From Diane Whitmore: As we are on the cusp of “measuring the difference we make”, please be prepared for input, discussions and moving on from sniffing the ingredients in March to assembling them before baking the cake. If you have tablets and smart phones please bring them to the groups or individual supervisions so we can have practical demonstrations – if you have problems accessing Penelope, please ask for help with the Relate IT department: servicedesk@relate.org.uk. Running alongside is the challenge to minimize duplication of information by making the client records more in tune!

PST (Psychosexual Therapy)

So my most recent training is the online Gender and Diversity module at the Relate learning hub, which links with Louis Theroux’s documentary on trans children in the USA, and a workshop on Gender Identity at a CAMHS open day for professionals in mid-May.

 

February 2015

Diane recalls a supervision she had when she was a trainer for Relate in which they were preparing for a course called ‘Managing Emotional Clients’ aimed at Solicitors. The trainer wrote on the board FACTS/FEELINGS/FUTURE and suggested that clients come in with facts about their lives and want an outcome around their future, but if the feelings in the interaction aren’t attended to, the client won’t feel they have had a good service (all hypothetically of course).

Ring any bells?

PST (Psychosexual Therapy)

When clients attend with sexual problems weaved into the relationship counselling, it is often wondered if PST will be another avenue to explore.

It is ok for clients to access us by having a single appointment (known as an IA – initial assessment) so they are armed with more insight into the service. As sexuality touches all of us, we are often sensitive to the privacy of what is ok to ask and what we “do” with the information.

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