Letter Writing

So a good friend of mine and I had a conversation, that went a little like this:

‘Do you fancy writing letters to each other rather than using technology?’

‘Yeah that sounds like a good idea, shall I start? I like getting post!’

‘Ok, go on then, I look forward to getting some post.’

Insert tumble weed as the biggest sense of writers block overcame me. And I did not write to my friend, or in fact speak to her for months, in any sense. Lockdown came and she messaged me and asked if she was ever going to receive her letter.

I had to admit to her that I had drawn a blank and I was struggling to bring pen to paper. So she said that she would start and so I became the one waiting for the anticipated letter.

It arrived! I cannot explain to you the sense of excitement and joy I got from hearing the postman slip something through the letterbox and me coming to realise that it was my letter. Pale cream envelope with flowers on, quite fat, eek! Exciting.

Opened it up and out came 6 pages of writing, all for me. Not shared with millions on snapchat, not ‘liked’ by a myriad of people I don’t know on Facebook, it wasn’t a picture of a cute envelope on Instagram. It was just for me.

My friend told me about how life is going for her at the moment, anecdotes of times spent laughing, crying and trying not to strangle the kids. The ups and downs of life. And it was wonderful. I read it twice before I knew that I had to reply.

No.

I needed to reply.

My friend had helpfully asked some questions throughout her letter which gave me the prompt that I needed and I penned 6 pages in return. It was fascinating to think that only one person was going to read what I was writing and part of me thought about taking a picture of the pages before I sent them off on their travels, I paused as I wondered what would I do with those pictures?

I reminded myself that these pages were not for me to keep.

They were for me to send!

Supervision

So today with my class we looked at supervision and some of the supervision models out there, being used by supervisors today.

Do you know what surprised me the most? That some of the supervisors had not shared their model of working with their supervisees! How do you work without letting your supervisee know what model you work from? How do you work without a plan?

It could be Carroll and his seven stages, Page & Wosket and their Cyclical model or Hawkins & Shohets Seven eyed, but there needs to be something!

I find myself commenting a lot on Facebooks group discussions about supervision, it drives me up the wall when supervisors state ‘I am a CBT / Integrative / Psychodynamic supervisor’. Noooooooooooooo!

We, as therapists have a modality, but we as supervisors work to a supervision model. They are two different, some may argue completely different, things! Please stop it!

And supervisees……..challenge your supervisors!

Feelings are not facts!

Something that has sat with me today. So I figured why not write about it. So. Feelings are not facts. True or false? My logical brain is telling me that’s true and my emotional brain is churning my stomach!

The story of why this came up is kinda irrelevant but more about what its doing to me is key.

My stomach is in knots, my brain is whirring and my niggling thoughts are creating their own story lines!

So why can’t I stop it? A question that I’m sure has been pondered for centuries. For me, right at this moment, its because I dont believe the facts I have been given. So my brain is filling in the gaps with a negative storyline, because we all know how good we are at writing those. And this is what has led me to be sat in the lounge at 1am. Deliberating with myself.

Will I ever learn?

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go

I was inspired for this blog post by the sheer overload of online learning there is available right now, as well as my own experiences of moving our classes online. I teach Level 3 and Level 4 counselling qualifications and we, like millions of people in the world, jumped from classroom to online overnight.

It seems that I can’t open an email without a link embedded in it for “free courses – sign up now”, “change your career”, “get back to work more qualified than when you left”, “things to stop the furlough boredom”. And the list goes on. I would call it ‘being bombarded’!

And like everyone at the moment I thought I had best make good use of my time during Covid. Despite the fact that I am still working I felt this increased pressure to make more of my time.

What on earth does ‘make more of my time’ even mean? Ask anyone who knows me they will say I am on the go from morning till night and sometimes until late into the night, juggling careers like I am a sealion performing for the masses.

So, drawn into the marketing demands, I signed up for a short course that took my fancy and was counselling related. I thought ‘whoop, two boxes ticked’ – don’t ask me about boxes I have no idea what boxes I’m talking about either! (Maybe another blog post……?)

Course, locked and loaded, off I went. It was ok. Didn’t set my world on fire and I came away thinking – it’s some of those kinda people on those kinda courses that enable the counselling stereotype to continue! Let’s just say it wasn’t my finest moment and move on.

This then made me question lots of things. As a counsellor and member of several ethical bodies I have to do CPD (Continuing Professional Development) over the year. Somewhere around the 30 hours mark is always the magical number that is banded around. Why 30 – I have no idea – but go with it.

But after doing some reading around the subject I discovered that CPD doesn’t necessarily have to be in your chosen professional field. Well that cracked open some eyes I can tell you and I set on a pursuit in finding interesting things to have a look at, not just things I thought I should do.

Well from blogging classes to dream workshops, from making movies to writing online, from basic coding to mindfulness, from restaurant reopening strategies to delivery platforms the world was my oyster!

#brainoverload #butilovedit

I think you are getting into the swing of it by now, I just love information. And to be fair I learnt as much on my blogging course about people as I did in a webinar about delivery platforms. And what has this taught me?

That every person is a fantastic mix of so many things that to force anyone into a box, especially when it comes to learning, just means you are taking the spark away – or maybe starting to dilute it. By letting someone chose what they want to learn, study or read allows the human condition to flourish. That search for something, the interest, the imagination, the world.

And why shouldn’t we be a welly wearing princess, cruising across the galaxy, talking about mental health whilst deciding what food to order for delivery?

I once had a dream….

So over the last week I have been talking about dreaming with different people in my life. Some of them students as we were looking at Gestalt therapies today and then again with my blogging peer group, and some a couple of weeks ago when I went on a collective dream workshop.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">A what? I hear you ask – and you would be right as I'm still not quite sure what it was all about however I did enjoy pulling the dreams apart, sharing them with members of a small group and then taking on the comments when the other members of the group 'took on' my dream as their own. Fascinating exploration. And I think this is why it was called 'collective dreaming'.A what? I hear you ask – and you would be right as I’m still not quite sure what it was all about however I did enjoy pulling the dreams apart, sharing them with members of a small group and then taking on the comments when the other members of the group ‘took on’ my dream as their own. Fascinating exploration. And I think this is why it was called ‘collective dreaming’.

When the students and I looked at dreams we looked at the Gestalt technique of acknowledging all parts of the dream and becoming the differnet parts in order to create meaning from the clients POV and bring it in to the present.

I shared a dream that I had a few weeks ago and it repeated for some nights. I was called into work to sign a new contract (which I didn’t sign and you will see why I am telling you this shortly) and was told that I would be working in Kent. Now I’m based in Birmingham so that in itself was odd. However, my biggest concern appeared to be my ability to commute that distance. Well it was a dream!

So from a psychodynamic point of view what could this interpretation be? I cracked open my well used dream app and went about hunting the answer. I searched words such as ‘contract’, ‘signature’ and ‘work’.

When I added all the different factors together, it gave me, what I perceive to be, quite a comprehensive interpretation.

I was anxious about the work situation during all the uncertainty around Covid-19 and my place in the work world, this could be interpreted as “you need to get back to work”, oh the irony! Signatures mean agreement or acceptance of a situation. Remember I told you that I didn’t sign anything. This appears to be my lack of acceptance around the situation which ties in with the possible anxiety of being replaced or the role no longer being there.

The contract element was an interesting one, the dream app related it to thinking twice about a relationship. And carefully examine what you are getting in to. This gave me some food for thought. I checked out with my husband that we were ok and he wondered why I was asking, I thought about the work relationships I have and they are still there albeit a little quiet at the moment as we all wait in anticipation, so what relationship could this contract be meaning. As yet I have not come up with an answer but who knows, these things tend to slap you between the eyes when you least expect it.

For me that seemed straight forward and realistic with everything that is going on in the world and in my world now.

Well I used my dream today in class as an example and that brought up something different. I became the pen signing (or not) and I dialogued with the contract. I asked it “why after so many years are you asking me to do this?” The contract replied, “because it is time”. Now I have varying ideas about what that means and that I am afraid readers will be a blog for another day.

But it just goes to show that its worth having a dig around as sometimes, just sometimes our subconscious may be trying to tell us something.  

To write or not to write…..

So the first thing that hit me was the fact that when faced with an empty page when or what is good enough to not only start but also with what! And I decided that was the answer. Lets look at what it is that stops us or rather me from writing. Recently I have been able to blame it on Covid-19, just like the rest of everything in my life right here, right now.

But I am hoping that at some point this will end, I don’t think life will go back to the way it was right away, if ever – see there is another topic for another blog post one day – but things will change and I will adapt again and continue on.

So back to the writing, is it fear that stops me putting something out there? Yes maybe. The fear of rejection and yet even more so the fear of not being noticed. Seemingly the stronger feeling at the moment and this has got me thinking about the parallel that is running in my life right now. I have been furloughed from one of my places of work and this has caused me to wonder what it is about jobs, roles, parts we play that make up our outward facing persona.

And so the fear of being noticed continues on for me. Will anyone read my blog? If they do will they like it? And what weight am I adding to this……..time will tell!

Happy reading everyone – stay safe