I see a lot of people in this group talk of ethics in the counselling room, what I should do with my clients (patients) what I should not do? Can I do this or can I do that – what if this happens and what if that happens. I want to tell you most of this is pure aesthetics, meaningless configurations and at the most pointless. There is only one thing that matters in a counselling room is the relationship between you and your client. Do you set the depressed free from a past that binds them, do you enable the anxious to look forward to a positive realistic future without worry and concern, do you calm the mind of those who feel the futility of life and replace it with an inner sense of purpose. Do you see the broken mended and after several sessions smile and say, I don’t need you any more. Do you feel the frustration, satisfaction, the elation of the transformation of crisis to one of peace and contentment.
As counsellors we are the agents of another persons change – we are the advocates of psychological research that works, we are the unsung heroes that no-one talks about. We get paid by the hour – we only receive what we deserve for the service we give. Our value is in the knowledge that we make our living from helping others survive a mental hell that the normal only feel in the peripheral sight of sadness or ecstatic wonder. Outside our profession are the rule makers, the judges, the authoritarians, they run our professional associations, our societies – that deem to tell us what is ethical, right, acceptable and we should listen and obey. Very few of these so called purveyors of righteousness have ever treated a client, have ever confronted the drama of tears, despair and anger at the World that our clients suffer from every day. I want to offer them a cup of tea, so what, I want to give them a hug, so what, I want to meet them for coffee, so what, I want to become friends over years, so what – whose business is it other than the therapist and their clients.
Clients tell us what they want and can accept – we don’t need others to interpret that or judge our actions – we see the client bloom and get better – not the soulless association or societies that claim privilege over us in our actions and thoughts. We have only one rule – do no harm to our clients as we would wish not to be harmed ourselves – all the rest is just self righteous bullshit.
The above statement was in response to hundreds of new and existing counsellors who were consistently asking what they can and cannot do with a client in therapy. In previous papers I have outlined my objections to Supervisors, accreditation, licensing and chartership as the money making control of a profession of helpers who are constantly micro managed by the blind who cannot see. So there is no need to repeat myself here. However to give a more general outline of my belief in the above statement I feel I should qualify my position.
First I have been treating patients (clients) for over 35 years professionally and long before that as a people person in various backgrounds of work. Like most of my generation I left school at 15 years old and went to work, started paying taxes, insurance and my mother (board). After a time did my army service, married young, fathered children, bought houses, got into debt, started businesses, got divorced, stayed single for 30 plus years, educated myself through University, remarried, had more children and worked everyday of my life not for a wage in most cases but as a self employed businessman in what ever form that took. In other words I made money from my own efforts and never relied on someone else to support me. Not always hard not always easy, but many lessons from life learned. I was not always good but far from bad, I made mistakes but did what I could to put things right. I saved myself when I needed to and gave generously when I could. I am a man of science not religion, I want do not want faith in superstition I want certainty in facts. I am independent in spirit and thought – I go my own way when I can without hurting another. My sense of purpose is to be the best therapist I can to support my family and lifestyle (modest in most cases).
I like to write when I have time, 65 papers and three books published. I enjoy photography and is my only real extravagance in that I own a good quality professional camera. Secondly, I am a independent thinker and refuse to be silenced and bullied by professional organizations that try to micro manage a people orientated business. I will listen to my peers and take what seems right to me – I will ignore and rebel against supervision, accreditation, licensing and the other absurd forms of control with only money at their route of evil. Thirdly, I am 64 and society says in another year I am surplus to requirements, they will give me a minimum pension eroded by politics in the UK from consecutive conservative governments that betrayed the notion of the social state, by a labour party now betraying the democratic principals of the people by not supporting the Brexit referendum. A country that used to lead to world reduced to a third world state of chaos. Like most British citizens no longer proud to tell people that is where I come from. In this state I can never truly retire and must continue to work until I die or become incapable of using my mind any longer. Fourth, I am a believer that everyone should do their bit for the planet and others, I am vegetarian going on vegan (never quite make that), I never smoke, I drink only the stout of Ireland occasionally, I choose to have only a few friends and I am a wildlife advocate.
While I cannot save everyone we all choose our own way to contributing to society and humanity – mine is to be the best therapist I can be. The second part of this paper was aimed at justifying my statement for the freedom of the right to be the therapist I want to be guided by my humanity and care, to follow science of the mind and psychological research that has long term proven benefits to the individual patient, couples or groups who seek out assistance from a professional. I should note here – professional does not mean the micro managed minion of the societies and organizations that seek to control therapists or counsellors calling themselves licensed, accredited or chartered (paying for bits of paper saying they have a right to do something that all have a right to do – help others.) A good education in psychology (broad terms) and the study of eclectic therapy types that should be converted to useful everyday practicality.
In Summery: Be the best therapist you can, trust yourself, trust your clients (patients) be strong and independent.