Surprising Sophistication

TBRP-blog-surprising-sophisticationIt’s now about 4 months since we met Larry Eve at The Corner and offered to run an introductory course in person-Centred counselling skills. Next Monday sees us at week 9 of the 10-week course and my co-trainer (also my husband) and I are learning at least as much as the participants. Most of the trainees, though not all, are in recovery. Before we began the course I imagined that this group might be a bit different to the students and trainees I’ve taught and facilitated over a period of some 35 years. I was completely correct in my assumption – but not for the reasons I imagined.

I erroneously thought that recovering from addiction would mean that these men and women would be lacking in self-awareness, and have difficulty with some of the main ideas in counselling, such as being genuine, developing an empathic understanding with others and becoming non-judgemental. I realised very early on that never having worked with recovering addicts before, my assumptions had been built on an unthought out picture that I didn’t even know I had.

What we were met with instead was a group of people, already sophisticated in terms of their personal development and who treated each other with respect. Being non-judgemental about others, on the whole, seems to be a natural development for people who have had reason to judge their own behaviour harshly in the past and this enables them to respond with empathy to the life stories of others.

Most of my 35 years working with mature students has been enjoyable and rewarding as they’ve gradually developed their own personal growth and capacity to listen to others. The difference is with this group, they were halfway there at the outset!

June Ellis

Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue  8