No single incident is significant enough to have individually affected the enormous journey I am on. Let me just reflect on my evolution from the impact of each significant theory on me, the integrative application of skills learnt, to the palpable discovery of a new consciousness, a new frontier. It is the first day of the Diploma I sit transfixed to my chair, as much a stranger to myself as I am to the others in the room.
How do I introduce myself to the others? I don’t even know who I am! Who am I?I sit rigid, stereotypically male, in emotional shutdown. (Very honest! ) I introduce myself to the group through an activity! SCUBA Diving! Come on, how remote can you be from yourself? I sigh in relief, as other people’s introductions are equally mechanical. Some faces are socially familiar; we exchange glances and smile embarrassingly. I am a 57 year old man yet I am so acutely self conscious that every time I am asked to speak in that room, my heart pounds like an 8 year old on his first day in Prep school. The tutors tower over me like my English headmaster at Public school.I feel overwhelmed by everything, the room, the participants, the tutors, I hide behind my false exterior, the tribal feudal male introject, that familiar front of self restrictedness and male aggression, the old friend who has always seen me through such situations.
It works equally effectively now. Or does it? (displaying self-awareness here Tahir) Months pass, my humanistic jargon increases, maybe even some counselling skills, I am affable, articulate, comfortable and closed. Satori – enlightenment through a box of tissues I have never sat next to a box of tissues.
I have never needed to.One afternoon that is all I need to hide my self with. A box of tissues. I am caught unawares, a peer narrates his childhood experience of ECT, he weeps, a grown man crying, and as I fight back my tears, I find the years of restrictedness, of not crying, stifling. My comfort has turned to discomfort, I am face to face with years of emotional dishonesty.
I hate myself and the years of falseness, what was false? What was real? My fragile maleness flashes in front of me through the haze of tears, the years and years of posturing self sufficiency, of escaping fear through alcohol, as I weep, as I feel the tears, does something shift?Is this the beginning of becoming real? I learn in that sad revelation filled afternoon, how I have lived, just in my mind, with the false illusion of unfeeling fronts, of egotistical posturing, of my sense of centre being only appearance. Yes something has changed. (It must have been an emotional moment for you) As I go to my room that night, I stare at my self in the mirror; the foreground is the “I “in the “now”.
The awareness that comes from learning who I really am, is dispossessing. Who am I? Who owns me? The previous strong, financially successful stud, overbearing, cynical and arrogant.Or this new I? Confused, feeling slightly emasculated, embarrassed by the deeper more intense person I see, I look away from the new self. The next morning is a check in, it is my turn to self disclose, I speak as if there is no one there but me, I speak of myself with an unguarded openness I never knew I possessed.
I speak of my alcoholism, my trail of broken marriages and wounded children, I feel the room suddenly alive with other injured humans, not a group of students, but people with similar lives, congruence is not a word anymore, it is a feeling. I have dropped my guard and confronted my defenses.There is a new connection with my peers and tutors, the self discovery and in its aftermath, the acceptance and care, creates a new lightness in my being. (I sense some relief here when you were able to do this) My self Everybody’s important plaything Is now unpossessed, owned only by me. It dims As I strip it of veneers That were never mine.
Then in the darkness of being nothing My freedom makes its own light. My own poem (Very thought provoking) Carl Rogers – my threefold redirectionMy personal journey was first impacted by the attempt to understand why I did not naturally possess “the self actualizing tendency” why my consistent self destructive path? Where was my innate drive to develop and grow like the hardy Rogerian potato? I was never in an attic in a bleak winter. I needed to use the three core conditions of congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard on myself. “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination. ” 1 In my effort at redirection, I have attempted to do three things, 1.
Rid myself as far as possible, of ego defensiveness, so I can get closer to “an increasing openness to experience. ” 2. Living more and more in the moment, I continue to discard “preconceived self structure” and revel in the “experience of my life”.
3. I try and identify who I am, just the way I am, sans cover-ups. I need to experience, to feel my feelings, not think them. 2 (Three good resolutions here) This has actually allowed self healing to occur. I felt a strong sense of self. If I can empower myself, surely other people have within themselves the same ability!I can help empower others.
The journey has commenced! __________________________________________________________ 1 and 2 Carl Rogers On becoming a Person THE FITTING GAME” –the trick of holding on tight to a theory, then trying to make my experience fit it. 3 Gestalt Theory so excited me, was so akin to the sensorial tendency in me, that I took to it. In my initial excitement however, I missed the point altogether, by intellectualizing it like a mathematics tutor, over assimilating just theory, denying the evidence of my senses. Naturally I could not apply it to my clients.Consequently I had to shed the theory, find the blockage in my understanding, (that I was trying to mould my practice to imposed theoretical structures. I had to “Sense, Feel, Imagine, Do, Perceive. Become more aware”4 “what I do now is the only thing I possibly could do, given my entire experience and state of awareness “5 That is my Gestalt practice now! Effective self regulation through the healthy formation cycle, is now simply, need fulfillment through uninterrupted functioning in full awareness.
———————————————————————————————————- 3.Houston G The Red book of Gestalt p 19 4. Houston G. The Red Book of Gestalt p 1 5.
Houston G The Red Book of Gestalt p 86 Creative TA- becoming a winner is a point of view away Unconscious incompetence meant reliance on a theory that I could easily practice. I oscillated towards TA with a majority of my clients, almost teaching it to them. It took over a year and supervision for me to stop being didactic. Recourse to traditional ego state diagnosis, behavioral, social, historical and phenomenological, is now loosely employed.I use TA in the here and now, to allow clients to identify their life positions with their own adult/ leveler intervention. Transactions games discounting is all used experientially, their experience. They are left to decide when to consciously move towards autonomy from script.
To be nobody but -yourself – in a world which is doing its best night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting. ” E E Cummings 6 ————————————————————————— 6.Muriel and Jongeward Born to Win p 275 Integrative counselling in action – a sampler It is Nov 2007, my first client! Heart pounding, clammy hands, who is more anxious. He presents with severe anxiety, timidity and shame. He is dysfunctional in his job, suspicious and manipulative with both peers and bosses. Socially phobic and self alienated, over adapted and incapacitated. He is caught in a bash trap.
My client suffers from toxic shame from a mother and sister who both use criticism and unfavorable comparisons to control him.The sister 11 years older, projects her own life failures onto him, (transfer of blame), he gets tongue lashings from her and is humiliated and emasculated. His shoulders and head droop as he speaks of the bullying sister. We do the chair exercise and he goes on to enact his experience of her verbal violence, his voice high pitched and shrill in the chair as she berates him. The moment is overwhelming as he loses himself in the experience of being helpless, passive, eyes frozen open, mouth down, pale with fear, as she continues to berate him.He is racked with sobs as the chair encounter concludes, I fight to stop my rescuer from physically reaching out to console him. It is 4 months later, we are dealing with his toxic shame and his shame producing environment that has continued into his current life. He earnestly narrates the shame based injunctions, “don’t be important”, “don’t be”.
He has no relationships, no friends, no lovers. The development of a shame based identity,his toxic shame has completely impeded all intimate relationships. Ironically he teaches me shame as I proceed to expose his shame.I feel homophobic confused and embarrassed as he brings his nascent homosexuality into the open, the sessions stop, as I handle my homophobia in supervision. (Very honest again here Tahid) “Because shame is central to conscience, indignity, identity and disturbances in self functioning, this affect is the source of low self- esteem, poor self concept or body image, self-doubt and insecurity, and diminished self- confidence. ”7 This epitomizes my client.
___________________________________________________________________- 7.Kaufman G The Psychology of Shame p 5 My client creates script from his day to day experience of all authority figures, mother, sister, and bosses, ironically all are female. Despite excessive identification with them and the anxiety so evoked, I avoid Oedipal labeling. His natural sexual urge squelched, everything to do with sex is bad, shame is fostered, his sexual identity confused, his masturbation fantasies are solely homoerotic, he seeks solace in gay porn, forlornly tries arousal through heterosexual porn and fails.Then follow guilt filled anonymous homosexual encounters with strangers. His self loathing grows. I feel free (post supervision), to openly discuss his closet approach to his sexual identity and homosexual relationships. Together we identify the split between his disowned emotions and the quick guilt ridden homosexual encounters.
The dichotomous branding of sex as evil and bad, the identification of women with negative controlling authority figures, the possibility of exploring bi sexual urges without conditioned responses is opened threadbare.His orthodox Muslim identity has made homosexuality sinful, punishable by death, this internalized social prejudice and shame has shut his sexuality. He slowly comes to terms with his needs, that they are natural, disrupted by personal history. He starts to own his sexuality, to be proud accepting and nurturing of it. Taking responsibility for his sexual activity without judgment, feeling sexually adequate as a homosexual, working on making the sexual act kosher! It takes months to make sex acceptable, to make the sexual identity of girls acceptable.He now wants to explore sex with any gender, to make sex a meaningful and natural possibility to be undertaken with responsibility, appropriateness and discretion. To integrate his sexual identity in his own time.
He moves on. (It sounds very positive work that you have done with him) He starts by hating loving then forgiving his hapless equally emasculated father, his rejecting mother and cruelly controlling sister. His strong inner adult faces, wards off then ignores her attacks, till in frustration they stop. He forgives them all. With growing confidence and esteem, the panic attacks slowly die out.His bosses give him increasing responsibility. Manipulation is slowly replaced with quiet strength.
He experiences growing self regard and dignity. With his peers his hitherto combative attitude is replaced with an increasing openness, with his team where he is group leader, his affection is reciprocated by his peers, as he replaces rigid personal barriers with flexible boundaries. He moves from being reaction based with everyone, to an “inside out” proactive approach taking direct responsibility for himself, owning his feelings and behaviors. I facilitate his discovery of his integrating Adult.From the adult he starts to self parent, he holds an ongoing inner dialogue between his adult and inner child to determine his parenting needs, the adult providing the space to his free child, to grow.
I now find him stuck in adult, too much adult. He is asked to consider the possibility of self nurture. He quietly takes a taxi on a 10 day 800 kilometer ride to the Iran border along an unspoilt mountainous coast.
From his adult, he most reluctantly looks at his child, summoning the courage to allow himself a holiday. What will his mother and sister say? He is fearful of the prospect of being discovered.It takes all the courage he can muster to get into the taxi to free himself from the past. In that lonely taxi, the mental imagery of miles and miles of mountains sand and sea, lifts then liberates him. It allows him to integrate his disowned parts, to start to accept then love himself. He is finding his free child! At his own pace. In his own way.
In his own time. “Positive regard and affirmation must be provided by the NAMEPage 88/22/2013therapist if there is to be an atmosphere in which the client may safely project, witness, understand and untangle the negative self images he has acquired from childhood xperiences and relationships. A therapist who does not accept his client as gay, will reinforce earlier images that are reflected in the clients self- deprecatory, paranoid, masochistic, or sadistic attitudes which are interfering with his capacity for more positive relationships and experiences. ”8 _______________________________________________________ Isay Richard A. Being homosexual p 121 ADDICTION- BAPTISM OF FIRE I manage a detox and rehab with a multidisciplinary team of 2 psychiatrists, a cardiologist and 2 other therapists. months into the opening of the rehab facility I am forced to withdraw our UK consultant from the facility. I am left to cope and I do! The team undertakes assessment, diagnosis, dual diagnosis, psychiatric medical and counselling services through both primary 28 day residential care and 11 months of secondary care as an out client service. Family services are offered to clients’ families covering non coercive intervention, identifying family dysfunction, co dependent behaviors, also enabling families to become aware of enabling co dependant and rescuer moulds.
Within 3 months I learn the AA 12 steps, I study the different types of alcoholices, I move to the more open Minnesota Model which is also abstinence based but incorporates more methodologies. I integrate more TA into the rigidity of the AA structure In the 4th step( in answering “WHO AM I” ),I incorporate both TA and Gestalt, primarily use of the Adult ego state in finding ways to unscript the addictive (adaptive) child ego state. I learn then apply an elaborate Relapse Prevention Programme covering stabilization, self-assessment, warning sign identification, recovery planning et al.I learn about PAWS- Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and all major post abstinence medical complications and their psychological impact. A client presenting with abuse consisting of 8 grams of coke as the main substance with Vodka and a cocktail of benzo’s used over 48 hours every 15 days, is treated for 30 days in the rehab and 60 days in secondary care. After 10 months he is still abstinent! Another client, who was forcibly picked up and incarcerated in another rehab is treated with a more humanistic approach, CBT based boundaries and a properly monitored time structure, after a year he is still dry !Presentations are made by our team to Psychiatry departments of two top hospitals in Karachi. Recognition is humbling and fulfilling.
CONCLUSION – A NEW SENSE OF SELF- BEINGNESS What an incredible journey! From Humanistic to Attachment based theory, from shame to sexuality. I have evolved. This Essay is written from a new place, a place that recognizes that my unconscious mind was trapped in identity with form. In the soporific effect of material ownership. In the hollow appearance of where I stood in the eyes of others.
From the gallows transactions of a key tutor, I discover my own equally image making, self seeking, egoic mind, that is when I try to move away from “I am right, you are wrong”, from my own defensiveness and aggression. I want to feel my common humanity, the oneness of my outer world with every other living organism’s outer world. And from within me, who I am, is slowly ceasing to matter. “Once you realize and accept that that all structures (forms),are unstable even the seemingly solid material ones, peace arises within you.
This is because the recognition of he impermanence of all forms awakens you to the dimension of the formless within yourself, that which is beyond death. Eternal Life. ”9 This course seems like a real awakening for you Tahid. It was a very emotional read and displays real self-awareness and a depth of honesty which is quite rare.
Well done! _______________________________________________________________ 9 Tolle E. A New Earth p 81 Marking Sheet ————————————————- DIPLOMA HUMANISTIC INTEGRATIVE COUNSELLING ————————————————-Reflective essay ————————————————- Student: Tahid Zahoor Ahmed Year Content (Evidence of knowledge, concepts, key issues, case material, references) Tahir’s reflective essay is very moving with key issues in his life addressed in a very honest and in depth manner. He has obviously allowed his emotional side to be expressed in a way which has not happened before. His writing is very poetic and expressive, giving the reader a real insight into the way in which this course impacted him deeply.
He displays evidence of nowledge concerning TA and person centred techniques. Structure (Argument, evidence, structure, ability to answer the question) The write up displays logical progress through his journey and the issues he has worked on. Although the piece is not structured using headings of any kind, it follows Tahir through his own persona journey step by step. Clarity (Presentation of ideas and arguments, explanation of terms) The piece is carefully worded and articulate, using very emotional language – possibly slightly less question marks could have been used.Tahir could have posed these phrases in slightly different ways to avoid this.
Quality of analysis and Reflection (Evidence of understanding, ability to think independently; engagement in process, self-disclosure, self-reflection and personal evaluation, awareness of transference/ countertransference issues) Tahid is deeply reflective, self-disclosing on a very regular basis. He has obviously engaged in the process of writing this essay and has used case material to highlight issues which he needs to continue to work on.He has also personally evaluated this work which sounds very successful, probably due to Tahid’s own level of reflection on issues which arose for him, which he dealt with. A very emotional read, and a realization of the way in which we can originally be so unaware of our own issues but be revolutionized when we allow ourselves to be honest and open. Obviously deep issues have been addressed in Tahir’s life and he has moved towards becoming a more effective ————————————————- Grade Awarded: DISTINCTIONTutor: Sally Draycott Date: 2/5/09