A Learning Statement

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Change Certificate in Solution Focused Practice
Unit 5 Assignment: A Learning Statement

Name: Brian Walsh
Year of Entry: 2015

My journey through the Solution Focused Brief Therapy has been, for the most part, enlightening, challenging, surprising and at times, quite frustrating.

At the outset my main aim was to equip myself with a new set of skills for my counselling and family support work. I am most comfortable in an easy paced therapeutic relationship where the client sets the tempo, both of us ‘unencumbered’ by time limitations and able to build real relational depth. However, as a believer in and adherent to, existentialism and the existentialist way of counselling, I discovered that this open-ended approach ran contrary to a fundamental given on of existence, namely that we are all time limited and that the transient nature of our existence and the temporality of life needs to be reflected in the therapeutic relationship.

In order for me to model this, I decided that a set of skills which focuses on a clear and acknowledged recognition of the temporariness of the relationship as well as demonstrating the futility of over-dependence (another crucial ‘given’) of the other would give me the structure I crave in my work.

Units 1 and 2 served to present me with a very few of these skills. The course booklets for these units are valuable documents and will remain vital reference points as I seek to apply a solution-focused approach in the future. I’ve already voiced my discomfort with practice sessions under the watchful eye of others but I think that the course structure wouldn’t allow enough time for these fishbowl exercises to make a big impact – on me anyway. In my practice, I’ve become comfortable in using a clipboard now; acknowledging note taking with my client enables me to keep a checklist of SFBT exploratory questions as an aide memoire in front of me, the client unaware hopefully!

So, in practice and practical terms, my desires were met in the first 2 weekends. But then I was taken by surprise with Eva’s presentation of unit 3 and the Work of Language. In turns, I was delighted and perplexed by the new ideas put before me; postmodernism, the notion of The Old and New Discourse and an introduction to Michel Foucault. This was an exciting experience, yet I struggled to come to terms with some of the nuances of ideas and I still suspect that there is a certain amount of ‘hair splitting’ going on, much of which is simply semantic ‘gymnastics’.

Dean David Holyoake was a revelation. His style, delivery and depth of knowledge was amazing. He took me further into the ideas of postmodernism and left me needing to discover more about the areas we discussed. I think we shared an interest in existentialist thought although he’s since confessed a certain disillusion with many of the ideas. Always positive and encouraging, Dean enthused me (and Becky I think) and I suspect he is the personification of the postmodern age.

However, I remained unconvinced by some aspects of Dean’s weekend, notably the surety of Postmodernism’s ‘Anti- essentialist’ beliefs. As Dean has already told me, I’m no Messiah and don’t have a ready argument against anything really but I put that down to the limit of my intellect and understanding – I’m not saying that anyone’s right or wrong, just that I struggle with ‘getting my head around it’.

I’m unable to ‘un-know’ what I’ve learned on these weekends and I will explore the things I’ve learned in more depth as I go along, for now, though, I have to guard against being held back by my lack of understanding of the ‘back story’.

I confess that I had a sinking feeling with the thought of a weekend of ethics. I was surprised by Paul Avarde’s day with us. Paul was engaging and made what was a potentially very dry subject into a valuable learning experience. He reignited my interest in visiting the BACP website, firstly to refresh myself on its standards and ethics but then on to other parts of the site which served to reconnect me to my roots in counselling (BACP publications got me through most of my second year in my diploma studies). Paul also helped me to recognise the inadequacy of the contract I use in my family support work and I’ve already addressed this with my manager.

I feel that a Certificate in Solution Focused Therapy is enough for me – at least for the moment. My aim at the outset was to provide myself with some skills with which to offer brief therapy. I have some ability in working in a time limited fashion from an existentialist perspective (12 sessions) but this can be an esoteric process and not suited to all of my clients. I like the immediacy of the approach and helping my client to create a new discourse adds a kind of concrete aspect where we have a definite destination in our work and time limited to add an urgency and discipline. I don’t think that I’ll ever be a solution focused purist and my belief in an existentialist set of philosophies and ideas is strong and so far, at least, unwavering.

I have felt valued by all of the tutors and my fellow attendees. My views have been listened to, as have the views of the rest of the group and each weekend has been relaxed and flexible. I’m particularly grateful for being allowed a late arrival when it was my Grandson’s christening.

Thanks to everyone at Change Brief Therapy for educating me in the ways of SFBT and I feel encouraged by the feedback I’ve received from my tutors.
SFBT will flourish I think and may become the approach of choice within the NHS and other major commissioners.

Sadly, I end my certificate course in failure- I’ve only managed 974 words. Eva, can I owe you 26 words?

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