In a recent issue of Inside Out we asked people to write to us about their experience of training courses they had done. We believe it is important to bring this kind of information to your attention. You may be a practitioner yourself and would like to hear about the different courses and trainings available. You might be someone who is looking for a course and would ask graduates for their opinion if you had the opportunity. There is a whole range of courses going on around the country in all areas of counselling and psychotherapy. For those who have little knowledge of the world of counselling and psychotherapy it can be perplexing. We hope more and more recent graduates will take the opportunity to put their reflections on paper for the benefit of all.
Joe Gleeson is a graduate of the one year full-time professional Diploma training in counselling psychology at Trinity College. This course is open to sixteen honours psychology graduates annually. Course components cover personal development, supervised counselling, counselling theory and placements with practising counsellors and psychotherapists.
Joe has given us this brief personal reaction.
Far from being the baby in a family of seven, I somehow often acted the parent while growing up – my mother having died when I was eight. I attribute in part this latter influence to my concern with the person, relationships and society. A “Pippy Longstocking” of sorts. I always had the need to question, to explore, and to understand.
With a psychology degree, and having spread my wings for a time, my ambition was to be a psychologist. Persistent in the face of limited postgraduate training places (and after a number of disappointments), I accepted enthusiastically a place on the counselling psychology course in Trinity in October 1990. I was impressed by the opportunity to gain practical work experience, a broad theoretical framework and to integrate this with personal exploration.
The Nature of Diploma Course
As counselling psychology advocates a life-span developmental approach, it is fitting for me to conceive of my participation in this course as a formative phase in my professional development. As I consider the nature of the course it will become apparent that my personal development has been an integral part of this process.
In the early stage of the course our group was presented with a basic counselling skills framework. Through the media of audio and video training and subsequent group feedback, we had the opportunity to develop our awareness of the counselling process. A strong emphasis was placed on assessment procedures, case management and on negotiating objectives within the therapeutic relationship.
Personal Development Work
Perhaps one of the most enriching experiences during the course was non-academic. I learned a great deal through the process of “getting to know” my fellow students, of extraordinarily varied life experiences. The willingness to share our stories, and struggles with ourselves, and the therapeutic role provided vital understanding and support.
The course took a broad theoretical perspective, integrating some of the main tenets of, for example, constructivist, cognitive/behavioural and analytic psychotherapy. The course was underpinned by the discipline of psychology as it interfaces with the clinical and therapy field. The regular participation in workshops integrated the theoretical and the experiential. Workshops concerned with, for example, bereavement, sexual abuse and working with adolescents, were useful and informative. Constructivist discussion was generated from the presentation by practitioners of issues as diverse as legal and ethical issues, gender issues, and countertransference. Clearly the participatory format was the particularly valuable feature of our course process.
My work experience involved mainly individual counselling with children and their parents. I have learned much about my own strengths and weaknesses from those whom I have counselled. As a result of constructive supervision of my casework I have gained greater understanding of the assessment and therapeutic process; while recognising some of my own blindspots. Working as part of a team, I became aware of the therapeutic value of counselling psychology as applied in the mental health setting.
In Retrospect – General Comments
From being involved in this course I have taken both inspiration and insight from the support of those I now know as friends and colleagues and from meeting and discussion with therapists of different orientations. I see a continuing need for effective communication between course staff and participants in appraising the development of this course.
I presently enjoy the challenge of combining counselling psychology practice with MSc. research and ongoing case supervision. A second year has now been incorporated into the Diploma year for the first time, offering an MSc. in Counselling Psychology. The future of this evolving profession lies in the hands of those prac titioners who work towards the integration of counselling psychology into applied psychology settings.
For further information contact:
Course Director, Sheila Green or Course Co-ordinator, Nuala Rothery, Department of Psychology, 24 Westland Row, Dublin 2.