Often clients say that they would like to become a counsellor… Some of them I think would indeed make for amazing counsellors. However, it does make me pause for a moment and ponder…
If I knew then what I know now, would I still want to go ahead or would I have bottled it and chosen another profession? But I will never know, will I? There isn’t (as far as I know) a “control” me in a parallel universe that didn’t make it. To be a Counsellor is, in my opinion, a true calling: you have to really, really want it.
When a counsellor sits in front of a client, he or she has succeeded and persevered where many have not. I do not exaggerate when I say that he or she has completed a Tolkien-like quest in order to sit in front of said client, ready willing and able to assist.
Professionally Qualified Counsellors have had to study for between two and five years (some longer)… it depends on whether their courses were part-time, full-time, or intensive. During that time they have had to attend lectures, undertake personal therapy, volunteer (yes free of charge) for at least 100 hours, attend additional training in order to work for specific agencies (again unpaid), pay for and attend professional supervision, write thousands of words in essays, journals, lecture notes, case notes, supervision notes and, for some, dissertations. Attend workshops, group process sessions and conferences where their emotions have been very deliberately manipulated to expose the very best and the very worst of themselves so that they can be “self aware” and the very best that they can be before commencing work with clients.
My husband and I have roughly calculated that training as a Counsellor for 2 years and counting has cost our household £8,000 and that is not obviously counting earnings that were not earned whilst studying and volunteering.
After all of this, the cold hard results are marked, second marked, verified by an exam board, ratified by a senate and then and only then can you apply to be part of a professional organisation such as the BACP.
So, the way I see it, when a Counsellor sits in front of their client, they are extremely committed to being with the client and giving them the very best that they can be.