This week we were went over the work we had done so far to identify if we had any gaps, but we spent most of our time doing roleplays.
We did three roleplays in our group, and I had one as a counsellor, one as a client and one as an observer.
In the first roleplay I portrayed a man who had reached a crossroads in his life and was unsure as to how best to carry on. Gloria was playing the part of the counsellor, and I think she did a very good job. She is very professional in roleplays, very understanding, and it felt great to be really listened to, and not offered any advice or told what to do, like would happen if I talked to someone in real life about it. My problem was somewhat based on my own previous experiences of being indecisive about starting this course, and having Gloria just listen and reflect my feelings back at me was delightful. It made me realise that I’m not alone in having these fears of starting new courses or projects, these fears of changing your life to how you’ve always envisioned it; the vast majority of people also have them.
In the second roleplay, I observed Steven as the counsellor, and Gloria as a client. They had a nice little session concerning a real problem that Gloria recently had involving her mother and her daughter. Steven handled it well.
In the third roleplay, Steven presented me with a problem which would challenge my prejudices and personal issues to cover unit 3.3. To start the roleplay I introduced myself as if it were the first time we had met and outlined my objectives as a counsellor, which were to maintain confidentiality, help the client understand his problem, and to not offer solutions. In the roleplay Steven was having problems with drug addiction and spells of homelessness, some things that I have never experienced. I consciously asked a lot of open questions to begin with, to gather information about the situation.
I empathised with Steven as best I could, mainly using my own personal experience of addiction, and used my imagination to be empathic towards his plight at being homeless for periods of time. I have never been addicted to drugs, but I have had negative attachments to other substances and behaviours that satiated my emotional pain in the short term, but were damaging in the long run. I was able to call up my experiences and feelings of addiction with things like cigarettes, food and videogames and adapt them in my head to empathise with Steven. I have also never been homeless, and I admit I have never really spoken to homeless people either, so I have no real idea of their plight.
I try not to have prejudices about people; I like to hold off on making snap judgements as I would much prefer to get to know someone and their story naturally, and get a genuine feel for the person. If I did judge homeless people, then some of the judgements I would hold would probably go along the lines of them being too lazy to hold down a job, or too addled by drugs, alcohol or other addictions to live a constructive life. I know that’s not true though. No-one would like to live rough, surely? No-one would want to sleep outside – I can imagine it is terrifying, being alone with your only possessions the clothes on your back and a sleeping bag, not knowing where you will sleep that night, or if someone would walk past and just decide to set your sleeping bag on fire while you are fast asleep inside it. No-one would choose that. Would they? Or is that a judgement in itself? Maybe some people would choose that. I don’t know. As I am not a part of that demographic, I have no idea.
I presented unconditional positive regard, in that I did not look down on Steven for being homeless, or for being addicted. To contribute to this, I felt it was appropriate to use immediacy in the form of self-disclosure, and I said to Steven that I too had been addicted to things and knew where he was coming from, and that I knew addiction was a horrible and difficult affliction. I also told him that I had never been homeless, but was trying my best to imagine how that felt, and asked him a few questions about what it was like. At the end of our session, I summarised the salient points, starting with the problem he first presented, a bit of detail surrounding the issue, the key emotions he was feeling, and the realisation that he made towards the end about him trying to fill a void with the drug use.
*The names of my classmates have been changed to preserve their privacy.