Over the last few months/years I have been asked a few times by graduates of counselling and or psychology courses and by other interested parties about the next steps to become either a coach or a counsellor.
Over the next few days/weeks I’ll share a number of ideas to advance ones helping career.
1. Investigate what a counsellor and a coach does. 2. If one or the other appeal to you find courses that you want to do next 3. Ask a number of counsellors/coaches about how they are finding their work and how their course was
7. Find a mentor who can support and offer insight through the learning process. BAATN provide a fantastic mentoring service for students. 8. Identify specific areas of interest i.e. Trauma, attachment, relationships, mood management, bereavement, anxiety, depression, Intergenerational concerns, the list is near endless.
9. Learn from others Brené Brown, Tony Robbins, Jim Kwik, Eugene Ellis, Rotimi Akinsete are good examples of how far one can go. 10. Read and listen to a few relative podcasts Tim Ferris has a good number, Science of Success is good as is Philosophy Bites, Kwik Brain, and a ton of others.
Resources Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility Interview featuring Dr Dwight Turner baatn.org.uk Eugene Ellis and Arike discuss Creating Partnerships with Training Organisations
New Dynamic Sometimes words simply aren’t enough to describe an experience. I believe Tank said it best in the Matrix when he said “It’s a very exciting time.” Or words to that effect about Neo joining the Nebudchanezzar and finally waking up.
Go Global Earlier this year I had a compelling conversation with Kwanda. Their interest was about putting together a therapy group for Black people. The group had the potential to attract members from Kwanda’s global village. Potentially people could attend group therapy from the Caribbean, countries in the continent of Africa, people from The UK, the America’s and from Europe.
Topics On Wednesday 12th of June 2020 the 1st group began. 3 men were able to dial in and begin initially talking about their general matters of concern. The Lockdown, CoViD19, work and finance being under threat or stopping, being with protestors for a range of reasons with the public outcry for justice for George Floyd, some choosing to find another way to lend their support.
Unknown Once it became clear that the vision of Kwanda had been realised a joyful exuberance about facilitating this group over took me. I grew confident something of significance had been achieved! That 3 Black men who had previously not known each other, could discuss via Zoom, topics that were of interest and concern for us all, and related to the other virtual attendees of the group was a remarkable outcome of the 1st encounter.
Growth The 60 minutes passed quickly and were filled with moments of genuine laughter, surprise, empathy and disappointment shared by all to all. The 3 were quick to note how comfortable they felt about discussing some of the things they had found within the group. A felt sense of knowing the other, without the need for pretence or hiding behind masks of pseudo masculinity was what I sought to experience and did.
After Some had engaged with therapy before and felt that whilst IAPT support had been useful, it hadn’t resolved their primary concern for engaging in therapy. The men stated that a free form discussion was useful in the beginning. The men shared that they were also interested in tackling personal topics in a more focused and direct way.
Zoom The 1 hour passed in what felt like a few minutes! A brief check out revealed that they all wanted to continue attending and would return the next week. A healthy beginning to a 1st Kwanda inspired social change event.
History Repeats For me, Kwanda’s Group Therapy clearly informed that psychotherapy can be accessed by all especially by Black women and men. I would argue that group therapy is what many from the African diaspora are involved in currently socially. The African Diaspora have been culturally and historically engaged in social economies for centuries. Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook Watch Parties, Skype, Zoom, Instagram live and many other group social platforms are used to pass messages in ways similar to the old way.
Similar infact to the drum! Africans from yester year invented Tele-Comunication.
Perhaps in times of great change we could all do with some psychotherapeutic support. The vision of Kwanda for me, is that it’s about Legacy.
The, what we are able to pass on to those that follow.
It is possible that we as a world are facing the largest global threat to our ongoing human survival since the 1918 flu epidemic and WWII. COVID19 has been termed a pandemic, an unprecedented global emergency, and a war.
The threat is a protein that once it invades/infects its host, reproduces and causes illness and worryingly death. It is the death part which is indiscriminate and strikes down neighbourhood’s and nation states. I am reminded of documentary’s on WWII and buildings being blown apart and communities destroyed. We all have been unwillingly called up to fight, NOW.
Warning: this is a dive into a few associative ideas I have to support and manage the current crisis. The aim is to provide useful ideas and a brief overview of some media I have consumed that help me position this existential threat.
Cat Theory A theory of Schrödinger’s cat I shared with a client to support their accepting and reconstructing their ideas of the unknown that is the COVID19 strain of the flu currently turning the world on it’s head. Loosely I presented the theory of a dead/not dead cat in a box as a way to help assimilate a challenging awareness of the pandemic that is COVID19.
The virus reminds me of a fungus (David Attenborough presents entomopathogenic fungi) that affects insects. Over a period of days these insects become cadavers that help spread the fungi’s spores to other unsuspecting insects to create other fungi. Nature is ridiculously clever. In a similar way, an invisible assailant is causing all that we hold in our world experience as important and precious, being torn down and irreparably altered.
Schrödinger’s Theory And so to the Theory of Schrödinger’s cat. The theory is that we imagine a domestic house cat. The tabby is placed into a box with a radioactive isotope. I should say that, at no point was this experiment ever carried out. This is a thought experiment, inviting our human minds to hold two opposing ideas at the same time. Like in quantum theory where light is made up of particles and acts as a wave at the same time. The radioactive isotope is wired with a timer that releases the poison at a specific but unknown time.
Unknown Paradox The question to be answered is, is the cat dead or alive? For a scientist or an inquisitive person like my client, questions are posed about the amount of radioactive isotope and the resilience of the cat? Other questions could also include whether the cat had food or water to sustain itself and how long the cat is in the box for? 24 hours is the length of time I gave as my answer. I think for the thought experiment the answer was an hour and yes there was enough food and water to sustain the cat for 24 hours in my example.
Both Now to answer the question and bring this level of questioning full circle. Point the question at the deadly virus that is irrevocably changing the world. Because we cannot determine the effectiveness of the radioactive isotope. Nor the resilience of the cat. The answer to the question about the wellbeing of the cat, is, that the cat is both dead and alive. Simultaneously. It is neither dead nor is it alive. We would have to open the box and see for ourselves. Up until that moment we are to hold both ideas as probable correct answers.
Is it quantum theory? I went a little further with the example of Schrödinger’s Cat and COVID19 with my client. Globally we are in the boxes of Known Unknown’s and the box of Unknown Knowns simultaneously.
The threat for all of us is the factor of not knowing. Can we know what will happen along the continuum of getting the virus or evading the virus and not becoming unwell? No we cannot. Looking at the examples of nation states like China or Italy, we can observe the effectiveness of what these countries have done. Locking down an entire nation and restricting movement appears to have slowed the infection rates. China as a country is believed to be beyond the worst of the crisis. Italy is approaching the worst experience of the crisis: total numbers of people who were infected dieing from the illness reaching it’s daily/weekly peak. The rest of the world are 2-3 weeks behind Italy..
Rat-a-tat-tat If we were to contract the virus we would move into the known and unknown boxes. We would know that we could potentially become unwell or seriously unwell. It is the extent of the unwellness that we would not know. The ‘what would happen next’ would also remain unclear. Uncertainty is the point of concern for nation states at the moment. The same concern also extends to families and individuals as of 28th Mar 2020 (date of writing this piece). It is possible that public hysteria, panic and paranoia begin knocking heavily on our rational thoughts door now. If we open this door we could be beset by many many concerns.
Choice If we open the door and accept the state of unknowing, what then? If we keep the door shut and stay with what we know about the virus, would this for both the short and long term be better?
Here are 2 outcomes from many other possibilities that could cancel out panic hysteria and paranoia. We could learn to accept what is or deny what is.
Managing what can be controlled is moving into the 1st box of known knowns. Which feels comfortable and we are inherently confident with a certain future.
Inhabiting the 2nd 3rd and 4th boxes are unsettling, scary and invite destabilising ideas. These are the boxes of the Known Unknowns, Unknown Knowns and Unknown Unknowns.
All Better Now Seeking information at this time can be seen as a wise move however there is an avalanche of confusing and conflicting information at this time. Pod Save the World share a new podcast that provides a bi weekly update on the Coronavirus.
If you can, reduce anxiety, reduce social media use, isolate, socially distance yourself when out, eat healthily, keep fluid intake up and aim at maintaining positive virtual connections with friends and family. One thing that is a known known, this experience of War will pass. Our world will change. It has to. Living from then on, in a changed world is a Schrödinger’s cat outcome: lying in the last box of the Unknown Unnowns – Exciting and yet Scary.
I have been hinting throughout the previous 2 blogs that there are times when our brains do not support us to live well. There may be a number of reasons for the mind to act in a dubious way towards you. The reasons can include past thinking patterns, current or present living situations, nutrition, lethargy and using the body less often doing light exercise, relationships with others and a host of other experiences can negatively affect the mind.
Out to Get Us The effects of the mind becoming an agent looking to undermine and derail us are similar to agent Smith in the Matrix. Agent Smith tried to finish Neo unsuccessfully many times. The effects of a mind becoming unwell are well documented.
3 Types The point I am driving at is, by accessing the support and resources of someone else’s mind, (final flight scenes in the Matrix) can help someone who has entered a negative thinking pattern to realign those thoughts!
Tools in thinking approaches can be used to review what aspects of a person’s experience can be altered, left behind or actively engaged with to create a better now and future. C.B.T. and D.B.T. (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) E.M.D.R (Eye Movement De-sensitisation Reprocessing) are 3 therapeutic approaches that have been shown to have positive outcomes for a wide range of people who present with depression and anxiety and altered thinking patterns who are unable to re-route to have healthy thoughts.
Social for a reason As social creatures we learn and gain ideas from others all the time. We have existed in a teach and learn from others for millennia. In therapy whilst some of the work is on you to figure things out for yourself, having a professional with you can help jolt the mind to begin thinking new and amazing ideas/thoughts/beliefs.
A coach or mentor will actively challenge you to think bigger or directly upset how you are viewing the world you live in. The aim in therapy/coaching/mentoring is to support you begin expanding and testing new thoughts.
The fear of engaging in support, could be that a person can stay thinking the thoughts they had originally. Remaining – Stuck. With a Flat affect. All around morose.
Exhibit A: It is about You Then again the visit to the GP. The IAPT appointment happens or you make a last ditch attempt at seeing that therapist friends advised you to see.
You vampire like swoop to the transport to get you there just on time or a few minutes late. Mumbling at reception your request for the appointment with Ms D or Mr S. Your buzzed through and then…
Therapy begins. Slowly at first. One session. An introduction. The assessment. You of them. (Will this work?) Them of you. (Not sure, well, maybe?) A feeling out of them, you, the space. Do they really listen? Have they really understood? You test them. Can they handle the real reason of why you came? They sort of pass. This could work! The 59 minutes pass and They politely intuit that Your time with them is Over. With a nod, A slight Smile, they say “See You, next week?” As though unsure of what They have unleashed. Not exactly the Cracken, A distant cousin. The Bracken? Maybe. As if on A washing line you Return and something Begins to lift…
Exhibit A continued The investment appears a sound one. The spring has returned. There’s renewed confidence. It looks brighter now. How did that happen? What trickery is this? Some call the experience of feeling renewed and invigorated, therapy. Others healing.
Whatever it might be, it feels good all the way to the bone. If you can cast your mind back to the last time you felt like this? Free. Happy. A willingness to be patient. Filled to the brim with energy. Spontaneous. Taking careful risks. Life before was a feeling of seemingly limitless time. This may have been before. You may have been younger then and that thing, those things hadn’t happened…
Therapy/Healing/Mentoring/Coaching/Consulting can help you to arrive at spaces that can make you want to try again.
On continued thinking about psychotherapeutic treatment and Investment in Therapy, we could be invited to recognise that the human body has a Doctor, a Physiotherapist, a physician or even a dietitian. A car has a mechanic. A house an architect, electrician, carpenter, plumber, builder or gas engineer.
What do we prescribe for our minds? A psychiatrist, a pill and drugs, Sleep, a book, a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Waiting for Help Yet it can take a long time to get the help from a mental health professional waiting on the NHS for IAPT support.
What if you were to see mental health support as a worthy investment in to yourself? A significant £200 – £350 – £1200 per month investment for a period of 6 – 9 months? And then no more suppressed pain or payment to recover from years of denial. That you have placed a high premium yield on resolving past issues and concerns. The investment would result in more head space, energy, resilience and healing for you.
Value What are the outcomes of paying good hard earned investment money into a stock or bond or even a bank? You get a return on your investment generally. The warning usually is, that your capital is at risk, which it is. Things in the financial world can sometimes yield less, potentially.
Guarantees What assurances are there for counselling and psychotherapy to be a good investment that could go well for you?
Well the honest truth is a therapist will work hard to ensure that what happens in those 50 – 100 minutes goes well. A therapist will diligently work in a way that is largely supportive. They will also challenge you and help to bring about change in either a micro or macro way.
The big question here is are you ready to invest in that type of change? Do you have the capacity, support, strength, resilience, time, resources to invest in therapy?
Patience The other question that needs to be asked is how much longer are you going to live with the inner buried emotional pain?
The bereavement, the divorce, the loved pet that had to be put down last year that you can’t bring yourself to buy another because, well you know…
The empty nest, the immigration to the other side of the world, the war you escaped from, the worries of parents as their child transforms into a teen and wants to go places without them, the new job, the work colleague that’s difficult to work with, beginning to identify as a different gender or becoming gender less, the student debt and wondering if ever you can pay back that loan, the mortgage and car payments, growing into an awareness of being attracted to others who are the same sex, Christmas, new year goals, holidays the list is near endless.
Swells The sense of overwhelm is gigantic. We do well to get up, get our game faces on and step out into the world and face it – it being the ugly low feeling.
Then there are those days when getting up is too much. Anxiety, fatigue, low mood and all the moods have said today you are not going anywhere!
This is not a bad cold or flu this is an annoying niggle that grew. It started on a Wednesday and by Sunday it had arrived. It sits on your chest slowly draining you, squeezing what life you had. Out.
Disguised Comfort It (the ugly low feeling) wants nothing but your undivided. It wants you to stay in with it. It wants comfort. It is like a small child that won’t leave your side. It seeks no comfort from anyone else. Only YOU can make it better. “Talking won’t help” It lies. Getting outside in sunlight it cries “We will surely die”. And so you stay in. Calling work saying you are too sick and unwell to come in – today.
That project that you were excited about last week – you hide from. Even this project can’t save you. That excitement that once was there can’t pull you out of this. It’s too late one can begin to fear. It’s close to all lost and very nearly is.
Turning the channel on the TV to more Friends, Frasier, Telly novellas, African Movies, Safari programmes, Bollywood, House Fixers, Netflix documentaries, podcasts, online magazines.
Everything can seem so pointless…
Maybe there are other ways to be with this feeling? Have the curiosity to try something’s differently. Our minds often don’t know what’s good and healthy for us.
Running the Black Men’s Therapy Group has gifted me and my co counsel Sheila Samuels with more evidence of how necessary the Introductory course/workshop is for Black Men.
A previous post Jitters, observed the negative side of what too often happens, when someone does not get the help so often not looked at as a support. Therapy is often a last resort and sometimes barely that. How can therapy be successful when there is so much at stake? There are a number of reasons for the reluctance to engage. Cost. Culture. Cures and Cons.
Cost Therapy is not generally a low cost investment. See Kwanda’s initiative to redress this. IAPT was seen as a possible panacea for the masses to engage with psychologically trained individuals to access C.B.T. (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
Helping those who wanted psychological support to begin resolving and managing their experiences of depression and anxiety well. The NHS support was provided through GP services for those who either expressed need or were found to be able to access C.B.T. support. The cost for a person wanting C.B.T. is nothing but time. Current waiting lists are between 6 – 18 months in some areas.
Culture For many people there is a sense of unknowing and unconscious/conscious fear when thinking to access talking therapy (a stigma). TV shows like In Treatment, Queer Eye, In Conversation with John Bishop and Couples Therapy allow viewers to see the process outside of themselves. Sort of like a fly on the wall. Viewers don’t get the first hand raw experience of what therapy does. Therapy can often be a truly eye opening experience. It can be scary too. Don’t let fear prevent you doing great things, again!
Uncoupling However living with the pain of what potentially is lying hidden could be seen as worse. On a number of levels the person living with the pain knows this too.
Many cultures across the globe have differing ways of managing internal scars. Some attend to these scars in community settings, some go to see a Doctor or psychotherapist, some a faith healer, shaman or spiritual leader a wise elder in the community. The aim is similar – to unbuckle the experience of (emotional, physical, psychological, historic) pain from the present.
Not for Me Therapy supports a person or group to achieve this aim of unbuckling. In a Western technology filled world. Some cultures have developed a socially accepted space in the minds of their people for therapy to be an acceptable form of treatment. For some cultures including the African Diaspora, Asian Diaspora and South East Asian Diaspora, therapy is often seen as something that is not to be touched. Therapy is for other peoples. “We don’t speak our family matters to outsiders.” “It makes us weaker as a community that has already suffered and is going through our own ongoing struggles with it’s identity purpose, history and future.”
Cures Therapy is not a cure. It has helpful elements that have curative affects for individuals and for groups but it by no means can wipe out past traumas and pains in a single shot. The process can take time – sometimes for a few years.The accumulative effects are like a river cutting through rock or an overnight heavy snowfall. Therapy cannot undo centuries of pain. What therapy can do is support a better understanding to support groups and communities resolve current and past experiences.
It is Written Books like The Body Keeps The Score and It’s Not Always Depression support an individual and groups to begin reviewing their current lived experience and review them critically. The two books highlighted above and therapeutic encounters generally encourage people to take out the parts that are not working for them anymore. Observe the learning from an array of differing experiences. Begin implementing another way to live and live well. I can think about a number of clients I have worked with for 1 – 5 seasons who have all gained somethings from therapy and found a way to let their past demons die and accept their now to live as best as they can making improved choices.
Cons Therapy has it’s good, bad, and indifferent encounters between therapists and clients. The right mix often happens when skilled therapists meet willing clients to address their difficulties. At times an incompatible mix can happen of cultures, sexes, compassion fatigue of therapists, unconscious biases, identities and egos are amiss and both the client and therapist cannot make the therapeutic encounter work. The fatigued battle weary therapist and enthusiastic risk aware client would be an interesting dynamic to supervise.
Cons? The thinking behind IAPT’s 6 appointment model is that a short focused piece of work can be effective when a single problem is looked at solely. This is equal to 300minutes of considered time and can be effective to resolve an issue. The difficulty arises when more than one primary concern is activated or pulled through. Which can happen as a result of discussing the other factors around the initial reason a person engages in therapy.
Time is a valuable commodity as is a successful outcome for the work for client and therapist.
Cons?? Six appointments at times does not touch the sides of heavily affected people’s challenges like complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). Another difficulty that the Global Majority has with encountering therapy are the historic experiences of colonisation, criminalisation, cultural appropriation and theft, villainizing communities and splitting groups of people along tribal, ethnic and gender lines. An implicit encouragement of groups to fight politically or physically inside of these constructed divisions, and then them to be offered a westernized approach to heal communities seems like an insult to a historic injury.
Cons! Where would trust exist within these paradigms to complete a piece of effective work? Western approaches to therapeutic outcomes were developed originally for a small group of people in Europe!
If we were to widen the lens and take in the planet through a global and pan view, communities from Central and South America, the indigenous populations of Australasia, Inuit communities, Sub Saharan Africans and Northern African communities may not access therapy marginally or fully because of their own senses of culture, their community understandings, religions, beliefs, sense of collectivism and historical legacy experiences with the West. A Eurocentric approach with therapy would need to be de-colonised and become incorporated within the cultures therapy hopes to support.
Cons!! There are also the experiences of what White psychiatrists, and White therapists have perpetrated against Global Majority communities which adds to the sense of historic mistrust against westernised approaches to healing.
I know two people who have challenges with sleep. My son aged 10 and my wife CW. I have over the past few years investigated and interrogated both to get an understanding of what happens for them when they try to go to sleep. Below are my findings and possible solutions.
Similarities Both my son P, and my wife CW, have active working memories that retain events of their days.
For my son; the entertainment he has thinking about school, his friends and activities he was involved in the day, alongside whatever technological gadgets that have captured his imagination seem to keep him awake. He tires at about 10:00pm.
My wife is usually engaged in numerous nocturnal intellectual pursuits that seem to be a holdover from studying at an intense level for 5+ years.
Concerns Some of her intellectual meanderings involve worrying about our eldest son, worrying about me, worrying about if the backdoor is locked, worrying about work and worrying about future events, that may never happen, or never happen.
Then there are the many frustrations of being a PhD survivor. Being married to a man who does not want to admit his failing health and doing the laundry are high on the agenda as is a family relocation.
To Canada to be clear.
A future Blog is in development currently that speaks to this huge change!
Strategies A few years ago I once offered the unwise task of counting backwards from 100 in 7s to CW. Not only was she able to do it (patterns) 93, 86, 79, 72… but became more enraged and upset that she had completed the task of 7 counting and not fallen asleep. I am often still reminded.
Resourcefulness I have offered to CW Tom Bilyeu’s how to get a decent rest (see below) on his podcast Impact Theory to support her sleep improvement. She has not listened to it yet, stating that podcasts are not her thing. (SMH)
The wise Eric Berne’s ‘Yes But’ approach from Games People Play I have just started to remember because, as the book suggests, it doesn’t really matter what method, I or anyone else offers/presents as the golden bullet to get to sleep, it will be refuted, denied and ridiculed by stubborn sleep refusers and CW.
Endurance The reason, I think, some people (my wife may be one of those people too) who “enjoy” being able to survive on 2-4 hours worth of sleep and apply extra cranky crunch to all who experience them.
It’s the get out of all get outs! Excuses of all excuses. They, Insomniacs, can never be challenged or provoked to look at the intensity of what their brain’s deprived of rest has wrought. Perhaps genius springs forth from fatigue?
The Boardroom Listening to the Tim Ferris Podcast (see below) I heard of a technique that I thought was worth mentioning to those who have trouble sleeping.
Imagine that you are in a boardroom and have the director’s seat. You call the meeting to order as the director of this sleep meeting you are about to conduct.
Now imagine the other seats filled with all those annoying voices that plague you at night.
Imagination Riot Personify them exquisitely. Dress them. Give them personalities and a place to sit at the table. You may want to depending on importance and urgency, rank these voices and place less important ones further away.
Name and Listen Each voice has something to say to you about something specific.
There’s the voice that represents Fear, Anger, Love, Money, Work Mistakes, Regret, Family, Denial, Debt and financial concerns, Politics, Worry, Inner Child woes, Death, Car, Transportand Travel and a mariad more.
Roll up Sleeves Now for the hard part. Imagine one of your principle concerns sitting next to the directors chair. They are speaking about what they have found, seen and have predicted to happen next in your life.
Usually in the day, you engage and take on with energy all that they are saying. Getting prepared to wage war on all that they brought to your attention.
The difference now, laying prone you are only going to listen and thank them for bringing all that they have to your attention, and importantly NOTHING more!
Loosening Grip The ‘concern’ once being heard will dissipate and choose to leave the boardroom. In the least it will be satiated and choose to quieten from bothering your attempts to sleep. I invite you to do this for all the voices clamouring to speak to you.
Patient Practice The technique takes practice. In time you won’t be able to stay awake long enough to listen to all of their complaints and worries, you will be too tired relaxed and calm to stay awake. Wouldn’t this be a better way to bring the day to an end?
Sleep Oddity I know this sounds like an odd task to complete at the end of an already busy and tiring day. But would offer, does another night of twisting, turning and concerning oneself with thoughts that keep you awake for hours longer, seem like a good use of precious restoration time to you?
Technique. The understanding I am left with is one of tactical empathy. Be prepared to be triggered and then not to act when applying the boardroom techno. But by listening you have given the ‘voice’ all that it was after – an audience. Once they have shared all there is to be shared, there is not much more for the ‘concern’ to do so they quieten.
Ignore Marry Avoid Choose not to engage with the content. An outcome from from having a daily meditative practice is to allow thoughts to pass and not follow them, as the mischief makers want to entice! Listen with care and thank them for all that they brought to your attention. With an empty head and all ‘voices’ now abated sleep should happen.
This may feel strange. But it is what the insomniac has said that they needed. I know, they have woken me up to tell me! “Quiet in the mind to be able to go to sleep.”
Fear Often we want change, and fear change at the same time. Some people believe that we should suffer on some level for past wrongdoings. I strongly refute this idea as a truism. Insomnia is a learnt experience and so can be unlearned or another tactic applied to get to go to sleep. The dread of staying awake again could be the motivator that ushers in change for insomniacs leading to a global phenomenon.
For the insomniac procrastinator, maybe there is the want to figure out what it all means and stay awake doing so. It is a choice to be made between sleeping or not to sleep.
One – leads to an increase in mental ability and does increase resilience affability, mental acuity and alertness, and overall health exponentially.
Having been interviewed a number of times and also being on the panel of people conducting the interviews this piece is to support those who will be looking for new jobs/roles this year.
Adding Value I am writing this post to support counsellors and other mental health professionals perform well at interview. Perhaps there are many who approach interviews as a chance to show others what they know. How well they would perform in the new role and that they would be a great addition to that team. There is an undying hope of the could be employed. The idea being that the next interview, will open the door to their next big adventure. This I know well as I have been one of the hopefuls.
The Invite The invite arrives through the mail, these days it is an email and says something along the lines of ‘we would like to invite you to interview for the role of Umbrella Engineer (the role that you applied for). The interview will be held on Umbrella date and time at the Umbrella factory in your local Umbrella city.
I wonder what thoughts arrive with the notice that the company/organisation/charity/entrepreneurship/apprenticeship/voluntary role wants to meet with you?
Excitement, fear? Fear mixed with dread at the prospect of another ordeal that doesn’t get you the job role you applied for? Because. All the answers to all of the questions arrived as soon as you left the building after the interview. Or, The preparation you took your time with didn’t prepare you for the really tough questions. Or, you rushed at the answers and didn’t answer them as fully as was necessary. What if there was another way to think/feel about the invitation?
Alternatively Simply hold the idea of why you applied for the role. See yourself in the role completing all of the tasks well. Asking the questions from the team and yourself that will allow you to solve some of the challenges of the new role.
The new position affords you change, challenge, reward. It is what you have sought. You meet most of the criteria for the job and feel that the new position could support your career growth and development. It possibly isn’t just about the money or prestige or possibility of something new to do.
The role is about how you see yourself becoming. Envision this down to the clothes you wear, parfum you use, walking taller, holding eye contact with others confidently, speaking with an air of knowledge and how you have applied it to complete tasks in other settings/previous roles. The new role is about how you are seeing your future with you in it and the new company. Breathe
Prep The interview is a stage of pre-engagement with a job role. Preparing for the interview is a necessary part of the engagement. Read through the job specification again. Read the answers you gave for each of the specifications.
Some if not all of the interview questions will be based on the job role and specification. Most jobs list the essential desirable and additional skills that the job role requires or asks for. Base your questions on the essential criteria and any desirable ones too. Aim to give examples or scenarios that explore/explain your thinking and outcomes of making the decisions you did.
Practice I practice reading through my personal statement aloud a few times and then take a recording of myself. It is the recording of the personal statement that takes the job specification from an external knowledge sense of knowing and makes it become an internalised piece of knowing. The knowing then can live in me.
It’s like self-hypnotism. I listen to the recording up to 10 times before the interview. I want to know what I wrote as intimately as a song. I listen whilst travelling, falling asleep, washing dishes, doing other pieces of typing work. I want my mind to absorb the personal statement with relative ease.
Questions The questions you devise are approximations, guesses, hypothetical thoughts about what may be asked at interview. The questions could be similar to
What reasons do you have for applying for this role? Tell us a little bit about you? If your friends and colleagues were here what sort of things would they be telling us about you? When have you failed and what did you learn from the experience? Can you tell us your experience of working in a team? What does a successful piece of work look like and what does it look like when it’s complete? What counselling approach do you use and why? How do you manage conflict? If someone you are working with states an intention to self-injure what do you do?
Answers The answers you give will be pulled from your personal statement. Because you now know your personal statement upside down inside out top to bottom, there is now room to improvise and be flexible with the possible answers that you can offer. This is where you get to be a Jazz musician, a Warren Wolf.
Explanatory In interviews I have engaged with and struggled I would either waffle on and hope to scatter fill the answers in a disorganised fashion. Cluster Bombing the interview. Not surprisingly I would not get past this stage.
To answer the questions well interpret the reason interviewers are asking them. What reasons do they have for asking the questions they are propositioning you with. What do they want to know about you? Provide the answers with passion and confidence giving examples of when you performed a similar task. (Remember you are not making it up, you are just retelling what has happened. The interviewers were not there.)
This is where you get to show off. When you can share what happened, the reasons that you chose to use the intervention used, the outcome of the intervention what the client/clients found helpful and what insights you gained from engaging in the way that you did. For extra merit adding what would be better if, or what was learned from the experience shows reflexivity.
1, 2, 3+ Gather your initial ideas about the question and what the interviewers are looking for from you.
Make a mental or written note to guide what and how you are going to answer.
Some questions are more like mini paragraphs with up to 4 points in them to be reviewed and answered
It is okay to ask for an interviewer to ask the question again if mid point you may have gone off topic. This shows that you have heard that there are multiple components to the question and that you are conscientiously attempting to provide relevant answers. It also shows confidence in being able to serve yourself well.
Answer the question as best as you can. Take your time here. You want to explain your ideas and give chance for interviewers to note take!
Give examples and then explain what you did, the outcomes and possible changes to be made, learning and areas that highlight team work and collaborative engagement. If there were parts when you lead a piece of work highlight this too, or worked through a particular challenge. This shows resilience and awareness of strengths in relationship with others.
Answer the question by noting what you have done that meets the desired level answer
Re-interpret the question to delve into more personable answers
Say what you did
Give a scenario that speaks to the question
Shoot and Miss It’s less point shoot at basket. More see the goal, reflect on choices (Pass, Dribble, Shoot) make an informed action and reflect on the choice during and after.
Solitarily or with manager supervisor or in peer relationships aim to arrive at possible outcomes. The work here is to show not only that you are able to use an internalised supervisor to reflect on the work, and that you are also able to use external supports to assist with thinking about client work. The point here is to show thinking and ability to work with others to develop useful outcomes for clients, yourself and the team you are looking to join. Providing the working out illustrates that you are teachable, open to new learning and that the new company is making a wise choice in offering you employment.
Over to you Make sure that you have at least 2 questions for them and that you mention that you had more but they were covered in the preamble of their introduction.
Try to keep the questions job role specific, who will I be working with, where, how many are useful as they give insight to the new role and show that you are keen to know about the company.
Recalibration The challenge for them (Narcissus) is in the invitation to begin deconstructing and decommissioning a world view that has enabled their Narcissistic behaviours to win at life.
For their self-interested behaviours be victorious against a past that could have been annihilating for them. Surviving and sharing their history with another would be a closer assessment of their truth if they could trust others enough for it to be heard.
Dismantling their coiffed well-presented image of themselves takes courage. The dark side of themselves is a perspective that has them as a person beginning to see that the vision they had held was askew is risky. The final scene in Dorian Gray is a perfect depiction of Narcissus seeing himself almost for the first time. The grotesque in themselves is an unbearable concept.
Staccato As Jill Scott sang in Love Rain ‘the vibe slipping off it’s axis’ is a useful analogy to describe the destabilization for Narcissus. Slippage is necessary to enable a nobler sight of realism to be perceived and understood. Perhaps the task is not for us to save, but to stand at a safe enough distance. Allow Narcissus to recognise that the image before her/himself is illusion. A visual echo of what once was. The mirrored and always elusive self is unable to be experienced – much like A Picture of Dorian Gray – the perfect imperfect.
*Humorosity A cataclysmic explosion would be necessary for the change to begin in earnest for Narcissus. To make a change of such import the intervention has to be brutal and honest. Perhaps…
The offer here is, with curiosity and doses of humoured inquiry make an attempt to be interested in what happens for Narcissus’s now. Do not rush. If you can, pose loose questions. With a sense of genuine wanting to peer behind their curtain/wall. Inviting Narcissus to do so too. For though the subject appears to be laid bare and low -unprocessed material lies here.
In part due to their exposure of a little known truth they dimly knew of themselves. Mainly because of the expansion caused by the explanation of their inner truth. Be careful as this could either be their first introduction (genus) to humility or the hard pressed kernel of defiant resistance. Only time will tell which route they will take. One that leads to re-connecting with their humanity. The other continues following a path to more pain for themselves and for others.
Honouring What lies at their centre? (Have you wondered?) The aim here is to open up chinks in a well-oiled, well maintained Armour. The chinks let out as well as let in opportunities for scents of change. The process can be slow. What is to be noted is Narcissus’ recognition of empathy and warmth from themselves to another. Observing fealty and connection for themselves and also what being in honest communication is like. Where, if any differences are felt and what that may be like? Rather than them hearing the familiar self-recriminations of blame, of anger, disappointment and fear. Letting themselves out of their prism they shielded themselves from the world – cautiously. See earlier
What next There are a number of choices that could be made in relation to Narcissus. Leave them to attend to manage themselves by themselves. Stay and learn to manage life with them. Leave and attend to the holes that they pockmarked your life with. Stay but be emotionally detached. Leave and heal and be aware of narcissistic tropes. Stay and support them through change. Leave and live well. Stay and enlist others to support their change growth and development.
I recognise these are not easy choices. It is about what resilience is like for you and what resources you have at your disposal. Always hold the gas mask analogy with you. This is about you not them.
Attractive The intriguing factor for me as a therapist is the attraction to Narcissus. Narcissus who brings some emotional pain, self doubt, a devalued sense of self, experiences of elation and happiness to the person(s) they are with.
Magnetic Is there a part of their character that appeals above ones own although this particular aspect is often harmful and hurts?
If personal harms are the case, what does being with Narcissus offer? Someone who is wicked with their humour. They are able to bring together a group of charming and attractive friends? They are able to offer you the delights of social mobility and acceptance? They provide you with an undeniable sense of responsibility “If I don’t, who will?”
Does superiority, defiance, charm and wit with moments of crushing lows also become experiences of the person who has fallen for their attraction to Narcissus?
I would advise you to evaluate with time away from them. Look at your life with them and life without them in it. There was a time before when they were not. How was life then…?
Pain The pain of being held accountable, of being made to feel perpetually wrong, of shame and embarrassment, of being made vulnerable and seen as weak or lesser than, is a fear for a person who may have narcissistic traits to hold on to their distortion that little bit harder and for far longer. Than is healthy/necessary The threat of being made small again is too great.
Because once, a few years ago, perhaps when they were infants they had been made to feel all of the above by valued loved ones, friends, teachers, frenemies. So they, Narcissus, erected a wall. Keeping all the bad out and locking in all they perceived as good.
Tactics like division, fear and threatening behaviours are used to enable self-aggrandizement and remain with a sense of strength (Omnipotence), being right, whole, good, beautiful and powerful, employed at other people’s expense and often their suffering.
The right of Narcissus’.
Narcissistic personality? Narcissism produces a distorted self-image, an oversized ego, and a presumption of superiority not based on any real-world accomplishments. Narcissists reveal their feelings about themselves and others through their actions, which are often manipulative and self-centered. Despite the depth of feeling narcissism generates, and the deep-seated insecurity it compensates for, people diagnosed with severe narcissism (narcissistic personality disorder) can learn to manage humanity, their symptoms, and reduce the disorder’s influence over their lives. That is if they recognise that change is beneficial.
This is a BIG if…
Past Narcissus may have had a number of experiences that threw their idea of self and the world in which they live into disarray at an earlier developmental age.
Experiences such as loss through bereavement or loss of home, war, poor relationships with caregivers, poverty, bullying, emotional neglect could support the development of narcissistic traits. The personhood of Narcissus may have been negatively affected by the environment that they were raised in.
Developing traits that support a positive view of themselves always, and a lesser view of anyone and everyone else around them. Projecting a view of all that hurt them, into and onto all others and everything else in between helps to protect a fragile self. The act of denying others their humanity and not recognising their own robs Narcissus of intimate contact with another/others.
Therefore Narcissus can remain perfect and invulnerable: Always.
Gas Lighting The term gaslight was coined after the 1944 film of the same name. Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. In the movie, a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind. Illustrating the destructive power of gaslighting.
Gas Mask at Altitude Due to the human capacity for finding purpose and wanting to support others to attain fulfilment and happiness it often occurs that partners, family, friends and colleagues often want to rescue a person that appears to have narcissistic traits. The joke of how many psychotherapists does it take to change a light bulb fits here. “Ah but the light bulb has got to want change.” For any person engaging in therapy they must see the benefits of change. For someone with narcissistic traits if the problem is with all others then there is nothing to talk about and nothing that therapy can offer… Until…
Resources Gaslighting – Two Guys on Your Head Understanding the Mind of Narcissus