Im currently enrolled on a p/t uni course doing counselling and attend it after the work day is over. I had signed up to keep myself occupied and to work on pre-existing counselling skills I had (or I thought I had) to keep avenues in terms of a career open in the future.

 The course turned out to be a tad different to what I was expecting. I hadn’t quite anticipated the level, degree and frequency of introspection and self critiquing required. I knew partly it would involve making yourself receptive to the client/patient but not to the extent where you end up questioning yourself and your ability to counsel!

I have done counselling work before, but it was more solution led or focussed on changing behaviours via altering irrational thought processes and patterns. It was very formulaic and goal orientated.

But this involves feelings. Now I generally am not a “feely” person, I focus on facts and stories and looking forward to seeing how things can be done (or can’t be done). I rarely focus on how one feels. Perhaps because I rarely talk about my OWN feelings to people. I dont tell someone when they’ve hurt me by saying “you’ve hurt me” or “I feel hurt” I demonstrate the emotion/feeling via actions because actions get you further and are “heard” clearer than mere words. I dont see the need to throw a wobbly and take things to the extreme either. A nice balance is healthy. IMO.

I understand that for some people they need to be able to explore how they feel in order to move forward, to accept change and to initiate changes in their life. Because of my background in mental health and academia I tend to hone in on the negative aspects of a person’s state. A person may ask someone “what do you think it will take you to improve your life?” and emphasise the positives whilst steering clear of the negative, whereas I would ask “why do you think your life is not progressing?” and focus on turning the negatives into positives.

Because of this apparent invisible barrier that I have, during role plays I hear feelings, but I dont explore them. Im currently trying to work on this. Usually during the role play session I myself think im not doing too bad and that it went well. That I heard the person say they are happy and know what makes them happy. Until the tutor gives me feedback – which usually deflates what little belief I had in my seemingly evaporating skills! I  dont explore what happiness means to them and how they “do” happy.

And for some reason I get the hunch she (the tutor) doesn’t like me. She mentioned she is fascinated with body language and always points mine out. In formal settings I sit with my legs crossed (right leg over left) and clasp my hands in my lap. Thats how I sit. There’s nothing “there” to read into. Perhaps im imagining her not liking me because I feel so pathetic in terms of my progress on the course! But others have also had the same feedback so I feel slightly relieved by that. So slight that its non-existent.

I also find using language such as “I hear you saying….”, “I feel that you are…”, and parroting things back to the person to be quite….not tiresome but infantisiling the individual. And to actually ignore the facts/story they may be relaying to ask about how they feel or what emotion they experience….I personally find that incredibly annoying when its done to me. I feel they aren’t listening. But they assume sticking to facts and stories is an avoidance technique, because “feelings are challenging”.

Sometimes there ARE no feelings to explore. There is no over-riding emotion being experienced that I feel the need to bring out, explore and scrutinise. Life is up and down. You’ll have days (like mines yesterday) where you feel incredibly useless, pathetic and inadequate. And then there are other days where life is great, you feel wonderful and happy.

  I am quite meh and blah about most things. Relatively little shocks or surprises me. I’ve noticed this desensitisation over the years. I am also facially not very expressive. I have to FORCE myself to show some kind of expression. If i’m happy I might smirk on the outside whereas inside there’s a whole circus act occurring. If I am very upset, I might be quiet and cry a little on the outside, but inside my hearts in little pieces and a deep grey sorrow consumes me. Now thats how I am as a person. Subdued.  I do not not feel. Of course I feel, I experience, I relate, I understand, I empathise (sometimes not as much as I should depending on what the issue is and who it is). But I am not very “expressive” of it in the typical fashion of how touchy feely some people are, the stereotypical concerned counsellor or how a “woman” is typically depicted.

 Its never bothered me. Now im beginning to think in relation to a formal counselling setting and perhaps even in the future this apparent inability to express physically and ignore feelings may become an issue.

Its all very confusing. I feel confused (there ya go, theres a FEELING! Lets explore it…..)