An odd moment arrived recently when reviewing the past few weeks of protests, stating the now ubiquitous ‘Black Lives Matter’. The movement, for me, blended with the ending scenes from the movie Kung-Fu Panda 3. The idea is somewhat out there, and will probably not land safely. If you have not seen the movie or are unfamiliar with the KFP franchise the idea will land ever more askew!
Unity In the final scenes of Kung-Fu Panda 3, a village of pandas step forward after defeating a marauding wolf pack and put out there paws to save the hero, Po.
Demonstrating The scene clearly demonstrates the now common idea that in unity, a great wrong can be put right. That a Black and White hero can defeat a Demi God! Inviting a village/world to heal long held wounds and restore itself to a bright and limitless future. The idea has long been held. The story has also been told since human beings have walked the earth.
Together we stand. Divided we fall!
Touch With Po (Hero) in the spirit world, feeling the hands/paws reaching out and lifting him up. Po gains the strength to be able to put up a good fight and defeat the misguided power seeking Kai. Does this concept sound familiar? World leaders current and past be warned…
Switch Kai interestingly resembles a buffalo with dreads and his baritone voice denotes a person of African-American heritage. Possibly increasing the diversity representation in the DreamWorks cannon of films and simultaneously complicating my relationship with the synergy of good and bad, black and white, up and down dyad.
Support There is mass celebration and delight amongst the villagers, once Po returns. Evil has yet again been defeated by Po aided by the furious 5 and the Panda village. To save the One, The Many must unite.
Evolve The moment of blending for me, is the recognition of the callous murder of George Floyd and the laying of hands for Po in KFP3.
For me, evolution can be experienced amongst us (the human being). A global recognition of the myth of White Superiority has begun.
And in protest against the systemic factors insisting that White Supremacy is the natural order of how the world is always to be.
What has been experienced by the many, has been one of finding Unity. At least for a moment in history. Seeking justice for George Floyd after the pandemic is also about finding a way to restore – make what has been centuries of old wrongs – right for and with Black people at the helm. Globally.
The TaoHaiku Without opposite Warm, Cold, Up, Down, the journey, Possibly never
Astonishment I have been amazed at the fact that I am transfixed by the Netflix show called YOU, his lies, his abilities to deceive and manipulate his way into peoples lives astounds me. The story telling and artful portrayal of Joe Goldberg is an introduction to the layering of an unwell man, that believes that he is, well – well.
Endings The first season was complete hedenonism and I allowed myself to be swept up in the mire of Guinevere Beck and Joe’s “love affair” that ended shockingly in season 1.
Currents The second season I find myself trying hard to swim against the current of liking Joe. Of not wanting him to win, steal, cheat, lie. Kill. But he does and I am amazed and happy and appalled by my want to see him suffer, be caught, found out, be brought to justice and then he is not and I am relieved and dismayed at myself for enjoying his escape.
Adoration Amiss This is bad love. This is the love of the ill and the confused. This is the love often given or showered upon a narcissist or sociopath/psychopath. This love is wrong on so many levels but there I go, mesmerised with the allure of LA sun and youngish people living their best sordid lives. Pure unalterable, unabashed fantasy.
Familiarity This is sociopathy. This is personality disordered contortion. The hook for me is the overlaying of the voiceover. The quick, witty, aware commentary. It sort of makes it okay. Smoothies over the roughness. This voice is similar to the ‘always on voice’ of mine in my head. I would hazard a guess that this voice is similar to the voice in your head too. It, the voice in our heads, is the entertainment. The doubter, the proof reader, truth seeker, worrier. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like without hearing it?
Surprised recognition Here in is where the clever thing about the show YOU lies. Hidden but omnipresent. Fixed like the ground beneath our feet but almost invisible because we do not notice that we walk across it, The ground holds us all up.
The voice in Joe’s head provides us with a commentary of all that happens and is happening. The dry, clever awareness of Joe is something we have heard before. He the voice is like our own. For me, this truth is the one that stands ahead of everything else about the show. We recognise them (the voice) as ours and are left wanting and loathing them him and us.
Before It is a madness (confusing, intoxicating) how YOU can be so enticing! Watch on and be as appalled and as amazed as I have been.
The Wonder Years with Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper held something similar and as recognisable as did Dawson’s Creek’s teenage *philosophizings and posturings or similarly in Everybody Hates Chris with Chris Rock’s commentary. The voice over offers something more alluring.
The 3 shows listed above offered a running discourse that held the viewer wrapped up in both on and off screen musings. Whilst continuing the story in ones own mind well after the TV has been turned off. Another Netflix show that occupied precious cerebellum space, for me, was House of Cards for similar reasons listed here.
Inside Man The last point I will raise is that the infection, my infection has to be passed on. Like an advert for stopping the spread of something harmful, and doing the opposite! I find myself speaking about the show. Defying my own sensibilities. Deftly displaying how I have been lured in to classifying Joe as disaffected and altered. Thus labelling myself just so.
I had not realised that I was spreading the harm by finding others to discuss the show with, is in itself an alarming, ludicrous and an insidious act. I should be offering warnings: Get out now if you can. Don’t continue to watch. Avoid YOU at all costs!
The cleverness is that you don’t realise how involved you are until it’s too late. Oh the characters themselves warn you. “You’re a sociopath! Is that it?” Says Love. Yes we scream he is! But do we then stop watching? No. We remain as if hypnotised because he is I, and I, is You and that is truly
There are times when I am amazed by the generosity of spirit of the people I meet in prison. They may only be dimly aware. For this man I would like to share this piece of writing with him. An action of reciprocity. Effective Altruism? Maybe…
Bad Day I was having a shitty day. Walking with a walking stick in prison is a cumbersome and slow experience. The walking stick has me feeling vulnerable and very out there on my own. It’s a constant worry that at any moment something is going to go down and I’m going to be jumped beaten and my keys snatched off of my chain.
It has never happened to me.
(Yes, staff walk around with keys attached to a belt.) Uniformed Staff and civilian staff walk with aware that they carry a large responsibility along with those keys – a symbol of power.
Questioning The opposite is often what I encounter. I generally do not feel powerful. My visible vulnerability brings from many I meet, including officers and often young and mature black men, the nod, or the question of “Are you alright?” Or “You cool?” “What’s happened?” “You good?” “Take it easy, yeah?”
Fade Here I am seen and my daily struggle is met by others compassion, seeing myself as the injured and frail one. I find myself at times wanting to be invisible. But these calls are a gentle reminder that humanity lives here. These moments are of genuine sensitivity being shown from men who are doing hard time, some serving 18-30 years. I have accountability and a responsibility to uphold, mine and theirs.
Between On this day I passed from one wing to another. There are a number of wings/house blocks, housing between 100-150 men. Every house block has it’s own distinct vibe and concentration of prisoners: Vulnerable prisoners, lifers, remand and re-categorised prisoners. These men are due for parole or to be sent to other prisons for more open conditions. The prison has a total capacity servicing over 1000 men. Me negotiating the gates, doors and stairs takes longer as I manage the cane, the keys, assessment charts, writing paper to note take and my diary. An unholy slow moving ungainly mess.
Check-in I am to meet with a client who attends the bereavement group. (Thanks for the reminder I will offer a write up about this group soon.) I need to see him as he left the group early on this week and I want to make sure that he is okay.
Take We meet on his house block and I make my way into one of the offices that has a desk and 2 chairs on his wing.
I offer, “I wanted to come and see you as I wanted to find out how you are after Tuesdays meeting?” He says “Yeah, I just wasn’t feeling good you know? Sometimes this place takes the piss!”
I nod showing that I understand.
He continues “I asked for something that’s important to me for my religion and it’s not on the canteen sheet and I can’t get it! “It’s frustrating me. “I’m usually okay with it here. “But this thing. “I’ve been patiently waiting for 3 months and I couldn’t wait any longer. “I’ve done it their way for a long time and nothing ain’t happening for me. “I’m not just going for mine and leaving everybody else you know? “This is about me and for others like me.”
Release He shares his disappointments and numerous experiences of being let down and similar disagreements about the prison. Like, losing weight, standing forward and supporting others, confronting officers and attending to his overall fitness, wearing clothes he has had to keep care of for years because he can’t trust that things sent in will safely arrive.
Prism He says something like jail being more like a mental health institution in patois and we both laugh. Initially tentatively. Then gleefully. Recognising ourselves in a prison situation as Black men. One choosing to be there with the other, another doing his best to find peace within his situation in prison.
Re-set The laugh of this black man was like the baring of a soul with a comrade at arms, a fellow road weary traveller, a baller. His laugh invited me to view both his and my plight with compassion. This black mans laugh somehow seemed to restore me and also him. We sat and laughed in a prison, about prison and the folly of the circumstances we both found ourselves in. It was Capoeira meeting Jazz, Gum Boot Dance to Blues, Hip Hop bopping slow with Reggae, Salsa and Calypso rejoicing. It was natural and affirming that even here -prison – humanity could be found.
Re-Mix The wonderful ability to take something that is both internal and external put a spin on it and make it both his and mine. The experience of the infinite in a few short moments of laughter. How deliciously wonderful, amazing and so uniquely surprising. I left the prison a little lighter that day, usually a little guilt escapes with me.
Seeing a one person play spring from the pages of a gifted writer to life on stage is amazing. To have the writer be someone you coached as a basketball player as a teen. An ever larger sense of amazement. To see the focus of the play greet, embrace and thank his son – priceless.
All The Shit I Can’t Say to my Father I went to see All the Shit, in August 2019. A friend, an ex baller, I coached – Abraham Adeyemi has written a modern day sensation. The night was the performance of sublime art.
Charming The performance was led by a young charismatic actor, Zackary Momoh, who reminded me of a younger Chiwetel Ejiofor. There was something about his delivery that was precise and filled with presence. The audience were appreciative of his deft delivery and intimate bringing to life of Abraham’s words.
Partial Delays News broke earlier in July that due to unforeseen circumstances ‘The Shit…’ was going to be changed to just a reading and a performance (How does that work you may ask?).
It’s part rehearsal, part working through of the words to the
stage, set and possibly with an audience. The actor reads through the script
aloud like a read through. Similar to a sound check for a music performance.
I thought the reading was a brilliant way to introduce the concept of what we were doing there. What we potentially could be see. A one person play engaging and interacting with the audience. Seeing the finessing of the script was seeing a craftsperson work their skills to a High Art Finish.
Throughout the play Zackary read and cast aside the pages almost as though this was part of the play. Him screwing up a few of the pages at one moment (after he had read them). Then came the toss towards a wastepaper basket was thrilling. I smiled ridiculously at that and may even have clapped. I instantly recognised both Abraham and many peoples dream of being a top performing NBA/WNBA star.
Engagement The show felt both lyrical and compassionate. ‘The Shit…’ entertained me fully. The audience and I, were involved to see AK the protagonist’s journey. As he begins to acknowledge and unravel his taught relationship with his father.
The AK’s father is Nigerian. A Christian. A multi-talented labourer, a craftsman of often obscure and unwanted jobs. It was at this point the flexibility of the play shone. AK asked a member of the audience what her dad did. She replied “Carpet layer – Handiman” AK “Yeah, my dad probably did that too” Audience – Whoops of laughter and applause of recognition.
The father, AK’s father should have been an engineer, but due to the racist notion that countries outside of the more favored commonwealth countries like Nigeria couldn’t possibly educate to the standard of British trained engineers were denied entry to the professions they trained for. Took what roles and jobs that they could and raised their families as best they could.
Off stage The scene that caught my imagination was of seeing Abraham stand with his father. The moment happened off stage after the crowds milled out. I do not know what was said. That moment being private – Abraham’s and his fathers. What I perceived was a bridge of admiration begin to form. An acceptance of something that had been lost. The awareness that maybe something new has possibly been found. This meeting between father and son, through drama, through ‘All the Shit I Can’t Say to My Father’ is the making of new stories and about letting go of old ones.
My Bridge I realise now that reconciliation was an impossibility for me and my father. A dream unobtainable. A number of significant changes would have to have happened in both of us first. To have approached a turning point that began a new start for us. The moment of second chances and water under the *bridgedness passed aeons ago and I am invited by circumstance, to allow it to pass too.
Duality He was a man of the late 1930’s Ghanian, African, lacking in humility, compassion he believed, was a concept for the weak and foolish, arrogance and bull headedness was his way to confront the world. His religion was dual Christian and Muslim. A Ghanian former politician living abroad was how he saw himself. UK politics was of mild interest behind his own ambitions. Fatherhood suffered.
We never found ground between us that felt comfortable for each other to be on. His death on October The 31st 2016 ended without a neat bow. Ours was not a story book ending. My father left not speaking to any of his children and without making amends for the pain he caused. That will be ours to tidy and pack away.
Reflection For Abraham the play appeared redemptive and restorative. Like a deep cleanse. I was happy I got to witness that for him. For me and my siblings I hope that the clearing and cleanse happens with acceptance moving on in to forgiveness. The chalice was never ours to sup from.
The intention is set for me to start from near the beginning. Refreshed and unburdened. Again.
I consider what my role as counsellor/psychotherapist is, after 10 years of practice. Change is present and I am simply bearing witness.
What am I? A Shaman. A mental health practitioner. A support. An educator. An enthusiast. A Creative.
Tune this The dial has swung on this thing called therapy don’t you think? Treatment for mental illness is no longer clinging to an outer boundary of the:
‘Never!’ ‘No!’ ‘You will have to drag me outta here to see a therapist.’ ‘Sedate me first, please?’ ‘Do I look like I’m crazy to you. Well? Do I?’ ‘If you think I need therapy, why don’t you just lock me up?’
Accessing support has become more socially acceptable. Changing the perception to another resource for those requiring support. Those with the means to pay for it do. Signing the contract and attending to treatment with studious intent.
Therapy can be a choice. Enter from stage left: IAPT providing access and enabling a great many more people to access the support so few previously sought.
Choose Wellness Now therapy sits alongside health as a must for those in emotional, physical or psychological pain. Many have come forward sharing their change. Championing their therapy and the counsellors/ psychologists/ psychotherapists that walked with them through their dark spaces.
Half Life Enough time has passed for the shame of a half lived life to be released and relieved. I thank those like Paul McGregor who champions the cause of C.A.L.M. Talking therapy is a way through blocks and barriers, as is homeopathy, hypnotherapy, walk n talk therapy, coaching, osteopathy, dance, sport, gym and dietary support.
Staying Some of the approaches mentioned above I have been able to use. I realise that the change for me is as a result of what people have asked of therapy.
Be in the room with me. Don’t leave like those others did (Dad, Girlfriend, Mum, Boyfriend, Work, Gran and Grandfather, evn my Friends!).
“Help me understand my story. Make sense of these experiences with me.” With the experience I have, I am able to interpret and meet some of what is asked. The call is pressing. The call is also immediate.
The call is a now (exclamation mark) not, a later. And this is where therapy meets coaching meets mentoring entrepreneurship and consultancy.
Orbit This is where I find myself. I am not sure there is a final word for where I am finding myself. A therapist? Of course. Yes. A mentor? Yes. A coach? Yes. A counselling supervisor? Yes.
I feel that consultancy is what is pooling for me currently.
Pulling me in like a form of magnetism.
Therapy Sloth The time we are living in now is almost of immediate gratification. If it cannot be had within moments of the request – abject fear, loss, failure, ignorance and paucity ensue. Or a sense close to. I ask and within microseconds, no longer minutes, goodle or facetram or instagaboggle will provide.
What then of therapy? The old model was to be a blank screen allowing the client to project their fears and desires onto. With newer versions of therapy the therapist stayed in the room and aimed to be a vehicle that supported the clients change.
Perhaps the model is to change once more. The next adaptation is to be in the room and be an active agent, an instigator of change that is significant and meaningful for the client being supported. The work could find a breakthrough in one sitting, 3 or 23.
Transitioning Change has no signature. No off, on, or now, time stamp.
Change happens as a result of the relationship between the supporter and *supportee. It is the twang of tension. The confusion of misapprehension it is the stuff of the in between. I stopped being a therapist the moment when I applied psychobabble to the vast complex life I am living in. Take a look at Haunted as an example or The Alienist blog featuring in Patterns: A beautiful way of thinking.
Ending With I am here for those who assertively, dramatically and seriously want something amazing to happen. Change is available for those who want it! More importantly it exists for those who ask for it and continue asking until that change arrives.
I work with those who are ready and waiting for the next turn on their wheel.
The Call I am a consultant transforming the art of conversation. Now, if you would like to work with me on that project, idea, challenge or concern drop me a line or visit www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com.
As with most things in life structure is an important part to creating anything.
Taking Inspiration and Flying My blog writing has been a flight of fancy, of fantasy and for me a moderate success.
Flight In 5 years I have grown my readership organically from 10 readers to just over 100. Organically meaning I have posted and readers have liked and then followed the blog. I have attempted campaigns where I have invited friends and family to take a look and subscribe. This took me from being scared to being willingly vulnerable. I had to as Brene Brown would say call on my courage to complete this task. The worst that could happen is readers, family and friends state that they are not interested in reading my work and not click subscribe. That’s it? Yup. Bad huh?
1000’s The number of readers could always be greater. With time. With consistency. With diligence. With transparency. With vulnerability. With a clear call to action and a clear message the number of quality readers/responders will grow. I am interested in the number of readers growing as some of what I write and think, I intuit is relevant, useful and slightly educative for a few people.
Structure Meaning I will be spending time over the next few weeks re-writing most of my blogs so that they are clear in what they are inviting readers to act on. The blogs are written with the intention to be informative. I have found that the thought that begins the blog post sometimes does not travel all the way to the end. The inspiration leads on to other thoughts and ideas that could be confusing. Leading you astray is where I can get better as a writer. The craft of blog writing is about clarity and information leading to an action.
Action For me the intention of the blog was to inform others about the thoughts I had about the life I am living. I am still interested in that aim, however the call now is to drive readers to take action. That could include responding to the blog post or any of the 70+ I have written. Read the links included in the blog to increase perspective of what I have written and then respond. Read or buy the book listed in the hyperlink (I currently am not an affiliate marketer), listen to the podcast I have included or watch the youtube video.
Pointing The aim here – I am interested in having in depth conversations either online or in person with others who have a wider appreciation for the life we are living/leading. The writings of the blogs helps articulate my thinking the aim is not to end the conversation there but to grow the thinking and generate further ideas.
My blogs are going to change. Bare with them and me. A metamorphosis is happening, it possibly is happening for you too.
The aim of this blog was to share that from a simple and chaotic yet interesting beginning the Therapist on a Journey is changing. If you have read on to the end can you:
this on to 5 people that you feel would benefit from reading these words
a comment below or drop me a line at email@example.com
Show a distorted Image almost a picture of Dorian Gray.
Display in good enough Light, invite Introspection. The image pointing Through the grotesque, The distended Wanting horror To shock And drama and Show no mercy. Never – invite in Pain.
Wanting the subject to Ask, is that how People see me? Is that How You See me? Is that really Me? The answer always
Yes! To me As horrible as the image you see And more And worse Bloody and bleeding Seething knot Weeded seedlings Killing, tangling Feeding a never.
They in handsome Refrain, now Strained fighting to Escape change in Small things, notice The armaments, denial Shame, angling to Reframe, growth may Arrive next and Demand sought to End Pain, transgress
Imagine a meal of sumptuous proportions cooked expertly by a recognised chef. Imagine that you are hungry, and interested in what you are about to consume.
Imagine the expectation, the table set. The dinner guests delighted and eager. The lighting perfect, the aromas wafting carrying in the anticipation of what delights are to follow.
Your dinner, the one worth waiting for! At the moment of delivery, at the height of expectations being met, the meal doesn’t arrive.
After all that anticipation?!
This is my experience, a therapists experience of the missed appointment or the client who does not arrive for their scheduled second appointment.
The preparation is only half of the story though. It is in the moments the appointments, the twists and turns of the therapeutic encounters to follow that were worth the anticipation.
These moments are where I find alchemy takes place. Little can happen before the client and therapist meet. In the appointments are when the therapist and client are both tested, triumph, fail and succeed continually.
But then the reasons for the client not attending are too numerous and complex to fully appreciate. Generally the reasons could be about fear. Fear about what change could mean. Remember The light bulb has got to want to change. But we are not to know.
That’s the hard part to the appointment missing client for a therapist. The not knowing. The guessing and the not getting to support that person who is struggling to experience something new. Like that meal mentioned at the top. The difficulty Not met and lieing unresolved.
Unknowing of when next to begin. Training in therapy invites therapists to be aware of resiliency in treatment with another. But the missing client has a very different weight to it. Training encompasses what to do in that 50 minute appointment which include:
Sit and ponder the last interaction and think about the work. Make notes in the pad to take to supervision to reflect on what is going on for the therapist the client and their relationship. Catch up on writing notes. Review the notes with the non attending client and be mindful of patterns.
Very often there are few answers but many many questions. To do what with I wonder? To provide answers. To look at things differently. To arrive at choices that could alter the work or the practice with that client.
It could also be a time to make a hot drink, have a conversation with a colleague/friend, do something creative and be mindful. This is about you and not them. What is a potentiality is the client returning.
This is when the labour made in those missed appointments comes into its own and the investment of time spent is met.