Stripped Naked by Carl Rogers....

A year of training to be a counsellor, stripped by Carl, laughed at by JPS. I'm a bit scared!

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One year. That’s all its been but so much has happened. Internally not externally. I’m not sure an onlooker would spot the minutia of change that’s taken place. I struggle to myself sometimes. Maybe change is the wrong word. Stripping away probably describes the process far better. I have spent the last year training to be a humanistic person centred counsellor. Only another several more to go. I started the academic year last September as me. I ended it kind of in tatters. All part of the training, all part of the process. The start of this academic year has been less than desirable. We have had absent tutors, resigning tutors, no tutors and yet we have continued to do the necessary coursework. We all have our own reasons for doing this, we all want to do it, so we plough on regardless hoping that at some point someone will want to come and teach us what we need to learn.

I have also been without my own therapist – something we all need for this part of the course. A miss fire during the summer meant I ended up with someone I felt wholly uncomfortable with so I made my excuses and left him. After a fairly lengthy search I now have someone who seems wonderful – thank god. A little bit of a safety net in these very uncertain times.

It messes with your head all this. I wonder what Carl Rogers – the father of person centred therapy and on whom most of my course is based would make of it all. Stripped down to the bone last year by continual self reflection, examination and honest, brutal challenge. We now stand, all be it metaphorically, naked. And I’m vulnerable. Very.

There is an irony to all this – one that has not escaped me. Existentialism also forms part of our course. I don’t pretend to know a huge amount about it as yet but from what I do know I love. It’s all so bloody fascinating. It’s all so me. Don’t follow the crowd, find your own meaning for existence. And yet here I am in the midst of a precarious uncertain quagmire of purpose and direction – the very thing Jean Paul Sartre and his chums say I should be embracing – and I’m terrified. I hate it. It’s like I don’t fit in to the shape life had carved out for me anymore, the proverbial square peg in a round hole, and it hurts!

So where from here? I honestly don’t know. Carl would tell me to be congruent with myself, to be empathic with my own frightened little me. Be kind and be gentle. JP would tell me to seize it, grab it with both hands and do a dance around the merry may pole of life with it. Tie myself in knots with the ribbons of my existence and enjoy the uncertainty of whether I will ever find meaning to it.

Or something like that anyway. Its all rather confusing. I wonder what Freud would say…………

Susannah Hebden


Person centred/existential counsellor, stylist, mum of two, adoptee