Truth & Reconciliation

truth and reconciliation poem
At a recent conference held by BAATN, I met an inspiring person who spoke openly about her experiences. We talked about challenge and she shared that as a poet writing and sharing has not been an easy thing to achieve. I mentioned that I would be happy to share her work as you will read below it is exceptional.
By Jodene Oghenakaro…

It’s not always the journey that matters,

it’s what you do within it that makes the difference.

The truth is in the telling, feeling heard & retelling.

Like I tell my kids…sharing is caring & caring is sharing.

We suffer in silence and in that silence, we suffer more.

Are we rotten to the core, like we bleed the earth & leave it sore. Feeding the rich & starving the poor.

Seething with hatred, envy & desire. Why can’t we love our neighbours & just inspire.

A culture of uncare & an uncare of culture.

Where does change begin, from the inside out or the outside in.

Is the enemy out there or within. A God within, a God without.

Building walls & defences but what are we running from in these races & whatever happened to face to faces.

Face the enemy, the trauma, fear & anxiety, instead of splitting, dividing the reality.

Earth, sky, heaven, hell, shadow, light, dark, black, white, immigrant, citizen, good, bad, mad, sad, flesh, spirit, soul, mind, love, hate ..when will we learn that we are one body & integrate.

The wise mind, depressive position, individuation, self-actualisation, integration, a revelation..

does it really matter what we call it..it’s accepting the truth that we are all these things, then healing & reconciliation can begin.

By

Jodene Oghenekaro

Is Counselling a Good Thing?

Argentine Tango

If it leads to dance… Possibly

‘As Counsellors and Mental Health professionals our role could be seen as Judge Jury and Executioner I shared with a group of Introduction to Counselling students at University of Greenwich in March’

The idea came as an afterthought to a slide which shared the below idea…

Psy-professional dominance

“…the psychiatrist, along with his psychiatrically orientated satellites, has now usurped the place once occupied by the social reformer and the administrator, if not indeed the judge…”

(Wotton,1959.pp.17)

Judge

The idea that we do not judge our clients for their actions, thoughts and circumstances of their lives is mostly I believe true. However as therapists we do make assessments and with that comes some degree of judgement.

How willing are we as therapists to engage with clients and the narratives they share of their lives’? By proxy we are judging! For me the idea is an uncomfortable reality, however it undoubtedly appears as a truism. The wise, and flexible in thought Irvin Yalom in his book ‘Loves Executioner’ shared views about 10 clients he worked with. Wherein lies sometimes excruciatingly honest judgement from him about clients. For example: Penny in the chapter The Wrong One Died was so affected by her past that elements of it were forgotten. Penny’s story stood out for me primarily because her ascent was incredible.

I did however make judgements, about her realisations and towards the end of her story the surprise was tear provoking, moving and surprising as she began to accept what therapy has been able to deliver. A truth well hidden (suppressed) – once seen (recognised) and the pain associated with it had chance to be released the experience offered Penny chance to grow!

As therapists we hold a non-judgemental line with our clients, that attempts to not judge choices of clients but circumstances that they are found within. To this end we judge vicariously choices made and the set of circumstances clients find themselves in. Penny is a great example of judgement by proxy.

The Jury

As Jury we sit, stand, walk and run with clients for hours, inviting them to make more informed choices about themselves. The deliberations seem never ending, the 2nd guessing, the moving ever backward, sideways, and forward before the breakthrough and release. We as therapists prepare the case, a case, our case, formulate the reasoning behind the whys of what lead circumstances to be as the client finds themselves embroiled within, and prepare, re prepare, and wait and hold and offer possible other ways of seeing a set of circumstances.

What we wait for is the lights to come on and the internal glow of re-framing, reclaiming and enlightenment. As an integrative therapist, these moments are worth the wait and the clients patience, as a testament to their resilience and outward growth. They are hard fought for – similarly in the jury’s quarters where arguments ensue, the fight and wrestle for a client is an internal and elemental battle. As therapists we enjoy the battle and the multiple defeats as I view that just further along, the small reprieves and then the striking of gold await. Leaving the jury’s quarters with a verdict whilst hard won, are so so precious.

The Final Act

Executioners execute and we do, for we let die old ideas a client holds of themselves, relationships, careers, family, money, their pasts, identity, food, love, self-esteem, weight, culture, age, sex, and country. We cease the battle once the client begins a journey anew – renewed.

Faith in self – restored, assuages the pain of growth. I have been fortunate enough to witness the act of resilience many times. This is the therapists chalice. This be the raison d’etre of why we do what we do. We resolve something with each struggle, every fight, every loss and every victory. As long as we remain true of ourselves, (congruent) to the work, to the process and to the client – we as a team ultimately win.

A brief tale of The Argentine Tangoist. I had a client a few years ago that I enjoyed working with. They were a trained psychotherapist and could share with me the approaches I was using to support them as we worked. I viewed the work like a daring dance! The dance was like none other that I had been involved with before. It was quick and slow and brief and intricate. I was lost to the spin at times as were they. The work with the Tangoist lasted just over 10 sessions and then as quickly as the work started it ended. Poof! Just like that over. It was chess of the highest order (I am a beginner) and I lost and won and was amazed by their skill. The sense of growth and loss has become a new narrative of mine. One that I have a grapefruit sensation – lingering. As executioner we too can be opened up to the unknown. Here too lies learning…

I have clients where the battle has raged for a while and then peace bursts forth once a realisation or a truth is found. Undeniably the light is perceived by the client – growing from obscurity to clarity and thus, battle weary but ready, strike new ground with renewed faith in their victory. After many years of searching as an artist, poet, basketball coach, youth worker, learning mentor: Counselling and Psychology found and claimed me.

There is something about this work I love – for it blends art with science and the unknown.

School to Prison Production Line

The above phrase I heard recently thank you Luke Roberts for introducing the phrase to me. ThSchool to Prisone School to Prison Pipeline I have been dimly aware of after I started working at a secondary boys school in 2004 as a learning mentor. My experience as a learning mentor a role that supported me in discovering my innate ability to listen intently. I did more than just  listen, I also supported young men to resolve their difficulties at school.

Resolution

The challenges they were attempting to resolve were impulse control, anger management, school attendance, completion of school work, issues at home affecting attitudes to learning. My understanding about these young men was if school as a place of learning was unable to meet their needs (socialisation) other opportunities would present. These extra -curricular opportunities would and did offer the socialisation, learning, excitement, experimentation and ego fulfillment that these young men sought.

Water Pipes

There are a number of ideas that leap from my mind in relation to a production line and a pipeline. A pipeline generally is uni-directional in that it flows from one direction to another, think of an oil line or water pipe. A production line like the ones witnessed at a factory are omni-directional largely dependent on what stage of the process the product has arrived.

Ron Brown College

I introduce the 1st episode of a Code Switch Podcast 3 part series. Code Switch is a podcast I have reviewed before in a blog entitled Deliciously Displayed Information.  Code Switch https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/10/18/558104287/a-year-of-love-and-struggle-in-a-new-high-school The podcast centres on a new school Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Washington that is looking to address the disparity of young men of colour that do not graduate from high school due to suspensions and other impediments.

A Global Trend

Unsurprisingly a similar trend exists in the UK as well as other places across the globe. The tendency is, those that do not complete school can find themselves being educated by the streets. Hence entering the pipeline. If a student is removed from either a primary or secondary school, education is continued at another educational setting.

Educated Men PrisonP.R.U. (Pupil Referral Unit), once referred to a PRU – students can be provided with a reduced time table (curriculum) and reduced number of hours to attend school. Some students who achieve a satisfactory level of behaviour at the PRU can be returned to their former school after a determined period of time. If a student has been permanently excluded and are able to attain a satisfactory level of behaviour, they could be placed in another school. Some students do not return to mainstream education. Steaming along the production line.

Black Male Love

During the 30 minute show I found myself hopeful of the prospect of the school. The aim to educate and uphold a value for the Kings in attendance and for the communities that they live within. ‘Work with us and we can help you to be great, able to achieve with the tools at your disposal and overcome the set of circumstances that have be felled many before you.’ The expression of love from black men to other black men is an uncommon and uncomfortable sharing. Experiencing love from another man is rare and due to the rarity difficult to process.

Often during the podcast there are expressions and experiences that challenge the notion of black on black love, wholeheartedly challenge the premise of setting, circumstance and time that appears to wear the resolve of the teaching staff. I am hopeful that the mission of the school will overturn the students hearts and minds. Maybe the hearts and minds of their community.

Healing to Health

An aside, the film Black Panther holds a promise of the utopia of a fictional African nation determining it’s own future echoes the hopes and aspirations of not only the Ron Brown school or the Black Panther Movement or the Black Lives Matter movement but also the ideal that by offering love from self to self an individual and a community can heal. Episodes 2 and 3 shall be revealing…

37

Alexandra Palace Sunset

Excuse Ville

With 37 weeks left in the year, I have set myself a challenge of writing one blog a week. Knowing and doing can be 2 completely polarising concepts. I recently wrote to a colleague from Excuseville the reasons for not writing are too many to list, and the longer I delay the longer I remain stalled. With the above in mind, I will ‘No Matter What’ this! No matter what is going on each week I will submit a blog. There, and with that intention set I begin.

There are a number of topics that interest me: Current affairs, Podcasts, Art, Literature, Film, Education, Science, Psychology, Spirituality, Criminal Justice, Sport, Travel, Relationships and the great unknown. My aim: to share insight and awarenesses (Awarni? I have a penchant for silly made up words too, be warned you may find more Opoku-Forfiehisms as I continue.)

With the idea of Excuseville in mind the aim to produce a blog weekly will be beset by obstacles (a few are listed below). It’s a little challenge (game) I have set for myself to achieve.

Busyness

Currently I hold a full time role at Together as a project manager, teach at University of Greenwich twice a week, run a private counselling practice meeting clients either in parks for walk and talk therapy, online or face to face contact, I also support a number of counsellors/life coaches with their businesses as a supervisor, occasionally I also deliver guest lectures at the University of East London for their Forensic Psychology students. On a quarterly basis my time is consumed with marking and reviewing student’s progress on various courses at Greenwich including Introduction to Counselling and the Year 1 and Year 2 MSc in Therapeutic Counselling. These are my yeah but’s. Offering reason enough not to write. However no matter what…

Hustle

The amusing aspect for me is how all of the busyness began: teaching, counselling, lecturing, supervising and managing. There is a saying that ‘One should be careful what one wishes for, as you might just get it!’ A few years ago an ardent and heartfelt request was presented from my longest standing supporter, my life partner. “You need to HUSTLE!” she said. The message was much more poignant and punchier than mentioned here. The main point being that the world was moving quickly and if I did not get up and get going I would be left behind. And so I did and haven’t looked back since!

The second experience that kick started the multi-layered HUSTLE was being invited to evaluate my experiences whilst a student at University of Greenwich. I can remember stating that the training to becoming a counsellor was not for the feint of heart. I was amongst a group of 1st – 3rd year MSc students and alumni from previous years. The comment feint of heart received nods and wistful smiles of recognition. Becoming a counsellor was tough, being a counsellor was tougher still but had rewards that many other professions don’t experience.

Teaching

The following year I was invited to share with 3rd students my counselling journey, this was my first speaking to a large group of people I did not know and I enjoyed the experience immensely. In September I began my first season teaching at University of Greenwich holding the experiential group (The process group). I have written about supporting 1st year students a number of times my teaching as a visiting lecturer began from here as did HUSTLE.

All of my writing going forward will be on some of the subjects shared at the top of this post, however change may occur here to.