As you might recall, I’ve joined a postgraduate programme in CBT at Oxford, in order to become a more skilled therapist. It’s been fascinating and I’m learning a LOT.
One of the things about the learning process that you don’t really think about before going into it is that you have to lose your ego. I’ve seen myself as a good counsellor for a few years and yet in this programme, I’m learning that I have a long way to go before I truly am as good as I’d like to be (in a CBT practitioner way). The feedback on my first recording I turned in was positive, but there are things to focus on.
The first thing I’ve been asked to focus on is to become less directive. In CBT, one must be collaborative with the client so that they can learn and discover on their own. I have a tendency to try to bring things out and so direct. After learning about this, I’ve caught myself a few times. It’s a difficult habit to break and I think it will take a couple of months to really do it justice. I see the point but undoing past learning is hard.
The second thing I have to focus on is really sharing what we call the formulation with the client. A formulation is the blueprint of therapy. It helps guide you and your client in their work. A formulation allows you to take the information you gather and put it into a more concise pattern or drawing, which you share with your client. Within the formulation, you put the historical data, critical events, the beliefs a person might have (if…then statements), the current situation, what happens during that situation and how you are stuck/what maintains your thought patterns. As you share this info, you are more able to help them understand inappropriate (for now) thought patterns and behaviours…and thus make changes.
All of this is a challenge and new to me. But I’m trying to let go of the sense that I should be better (“should’s” being a bad thing) and allow the process to happen. I’ll get there in the end! It’s a good lesson for all of us – you are not going to do something the first time perfectly and that’s okay. And, in fact, you should hope that you will never be perfect, as that means you no longer have the cool opportunity to become better and learn more!