I have just started a six month weekend course in Pregnancy Counselling with my lovely wife. Part of the course involves writing a journal: I, in my characteristically extroverted way, have decided to do this on my blog. I will however, keep any personal information, or things said by other members of the group strictly confidential.
Obviously, feel free not to read on unless you are interested!
Session One and Two
Today was an introduction to the course. It covered meeting everyone, gaining an overview of the course, and learning all about Care Confidential, the non judgemental pregnancy advise and support arm of CARE.
Page 12 of the hand book gave some tips on writing your journal. As the kind of person who thinks alphabetical order is sexy, it won’t suprise you to hear that I like having things neatly organised. Thus I’m going to put my journal under those headings:
How did you find the course content, exercise and group work?
I was immediately pretty impressed with the layout of the course. As a designer, I recognise when information is well displayed and laid out, and I found the excellent handbook, and mix of dvd, discussion and small group work really accessible. Did agree with Morwena that the pink on green was not necesarrily a winner though!
Basically, I was pretty worried it would be your standard cringey ice-breaker session, but it really wasn’t. I think the personality of everyone, both leaders and members came through nicely, but in a totally non forceful way. It made me look forwards to the rest of the course.
What are you reacting to and learning from the trainers, methods and members of the course?
It’s always hard settling into a new group of people. Hard for others because you have to open yourself up to others, and share yourself with relative strangers. Hard for me, because I’m so good at offending people, and it’s important to try to be as friendly, non-judgemental and accommodating as possible when discussing such emotive topics.
Especially found the trainers to be very helpful, really opening up and being just as vulnerable as everyone else on the course. Overall, I’m finding it amazing being in a group of people with similar values. The fact we are all Christians has automatically provided us with a level of innate trust and, if not an actual knowledge of compassionate security, then at least the hope that if we step out into it, it will be there waiting for us. Hard to word that, but I think it makes sense.
I think the biggest single thing I learnt in the first two sessions was that I’m weird. Well, I suppose I already knew that. But I think it just brought home once again the big difference between me and others. I am pretty much the definition of “open”. Ask me anything, whoever you are, and I will tell you. For me, confidentiality of my personal information is pointless. I suppose I have probably developed this, in part due to my personality, but in part due to my relationship with Jesus. If I have no fear of baring all to God, and thus to others.
I think 2 Corinthians 6 says it well too:
3We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;6in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;8through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;9known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;10sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
I love to open my hearts to others, and honestly think there can be no downside to this. If you can become someone who has no fears of openness, no fear of discovery, no fear of hidden darkness being brought into light, surely that is a good thing? Not that I’m saying others are totally wrong to not be like this, I’m just saying I can strongly see I’m different. And must therefore work a little harder to fit in with others.
Obviously, through medicine, I have a strong policy on confidentiality, and whilst I may not value it for myself, I understand that others need it in order to develop trust, to build security in a situation. Thus I would never dream of breaching other’s confidentiality, unless the information confided revealed a risk to themselves or others.
What are you learning from your interpersonal encounters outside the course?
Well, at the moment, not a lot. I’m finding my current placement to be interesting, if a little hernia intensive! I am mindful of my professional behaviour disputes, and can see that my forthright manner is to blame, but my aim is to be self aware, and hopefully this course will assist me in that.
What relevant personal reading have you completed?
I have read through the recommended section pages in the Handbook, which I found encouraging. I have also visited the Care Confidential website, where I found the video (yes, I know its not reading) of Reannon’s Journey. I found it moving to hear of the pain which many post-abortion women go through. I really wanted to ask her something: “Do you think it would have been less pain and more worthwhile having a child than the course that you followed? What would you recommend to yourself, if you could go back?”
What aspects of your personal growth have been challenged?
- Attitude – Before the course began I was already very aware of my effect on others, and the need for me to be as sensitive as possible. The first session has confirmed this.
- Knowledge – I realise there is a great deal of theory about counselling that I must learn. Glancing through the handbook tells me I am going to learn a lot more about adoption, abortion and parenting.
- Skills – I can see I will be learning much more on the practical side of listening, of approaching a person in distress with compassion and without bias.