“Is Counselling Learning?” Comments, Page 1

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14 Comments on “Is Counselling Learning?”

  1. There’s an element of learning in counselling or psychotherapy, but it is important not to confuse learning with education.

    Learning can be specific and individual. For example, all the people who attend a pottery class will end up (if it’s a good class) making their own unique styles of pot.

    Education is mostly about generalizations. For example, all the people who attend a class on the history of pottery might end up knowing the same things, and perhaps seeing those things from the same point of view.

    Therapy is often about unlearning generalizations so as to make your understanding of the world more specific and individual. For example, you might have been bullied by a teacher when you were young. That might have made you fear anyone who seems to know a lot. In therapy you might be able to unlearn that generalization.

    So I agree with you that ‘right answers’ are not the right answer. If everyone gets that kind of education, then some people will need therapy to undo its effects.

    But I disagree with you that individualized learning is so uncommon. It’s common in the creative arts, and also at higher levels in other fields.

  2. Hi Evan

    Having engaged a therapist at various times in my life, I’ve had various experiences, some successful, others less so.

    As far as learning while having someone to counsel me, that has been the most valuable. I think in being educated, it effected enough understanding of how and why things might have occurred in situations, where I previously may only have been speculating, or applying mis-information. In my knowledge. I felt more sure in making change. That’s not to say each time my therapist told me something I had to agree. I didn’t always. I had to stuggle with that, too. But in that, I learned my own mind.

    I do think that had I had a group learning experience, even if it were when I was a young student and had been introduced to some basic psychology, I would have benefitted. For now, as I work in therapy, there is a lot of unlearning that has to occur to make room for new thought, direction, idea.

    So much became who I was, without me ever knowing it and maybe wanting it. Giving things up is infinitely harder than adding new. And one finds there just isn’t enough interior space sometimes to hold so many opposites comfortably. It detracts from inner peace, something I think can be best valued when one can finally appreciate it. That said, it might have been nice if it didn’t have to be hard won.

  3. Hi cbtish,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I do think that therapy can be lots about unlearning.

    I like your distinction between education and learning. My experience is that education is not so much about learning as re-producing curricula.

    I do agree that learning can be specific and individual. When I said that this was uncommon I was thinking of educational institutions. I guess alot of the learning we do for ourselves (hobbies and so on) is specific and individual – I was thinking too narrowly.

    As to the higher levels of education – do you mean things like master classes and Ph.D supervision. If so I mostly agree (though some are far better than others).

    Thanks for a very stimulating comment. I’d like to hear more of your experience of education in the arts, in Australia (where I’m from) it’s usually pretty dreadful in the early phases.

  4. Hi Barbara,

    It’s interesting both you and cbtish mention unlearning. This is certainly true of my experience of therapy. Maybe I’ll do the next post on Is Counselling Unlearning? Your comments have got me thinking about this.

    Like you I think much suffering could be averted by some basic education in our early years. I do think that our learning doesn’t have to be hard one – often it can be delightful (though this isn’t often a priority in my experience. There are even people who think if it isn’t difficult it can’t be worthwhile.)

    I hadn’t made the link of education helping us know what is going on and so facilitating change. I think you have hit on a very valuable insight here.

    Holding the opposites I find difficult – and often need the support of others to do it. I do think it is what usually brings worthwhile change though.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  5. In my experience, the kind of therapy I got as a poor person through govermental agencies was of the “heres a class on how to parent your child” type. When I actually paid for it myself I got to learn about me, my son got to learn about himself, and we both used that to create new ways of being together. I think you’re right when you say it can’t be one size fits all, unfortunately thats all too many people get cause it more “cost effective”.

  6. Hi Caroljean,

    Thanks for voicing your experience. I’m sure that the concern for money – ‘cost effective’ – means that people aren’t first priority.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  7. Hi Evan,

    I think it’s a wonderful idea. Since reading Dr Carvers “How to spot a Loser in relationships” I feel my eyes have been opened and life makes sense at long, long last. I now firmly believe this should be shown to all teenagers, for several reasons.

    1) So hopefully they can avoid the destructive type of relationship that will not only damage their own life, but children they may have (usually teenagers caught up in destructive relationships are the ones who fall for the ‘honeymoon’ period and end up with loads of children.

    2) They may be able to spot abusive traits in themselves (fingers crossed) and try and sort themselves out before it is too late.

    3) They may understand abusive parents and maybe learn how to protect themselves better, or ask for help.

    4) Better equiped and able to handle and understand the school bully, or later in life the work bully.

    5) And of vital importance learn how to recognise the subtle may in which you can be manipulated and used.

    I personnally feel that most personnel problems we have or create for ourselves are because of the effect that abusive characters have on us, or the effect we have (if we are an abusive character ourself) on others. And as these problems become a self perpetuating circle down the generations, I think education may play quite a significant role in allowing individuals themselves to understand themselves better and stop the circle.

    My dream for the future anyway, having seen first hand the problems and heart break it’s creates in families.

    Well done Evan I personnally think if the pychotherapist industry (sorry if that’s not the correct term) could really give this major thought, it might cut down jobs on a one to one basis, but create more group or class work to the enrichment of yours and others lives.

  8. Hi Susan,

    I’m glad you benefitted so much from Dr Carver. It certainly does show the power of learning.

    Like you I think we can do lots with education (done the right way). I think groups and classes could really help the psychotherapist industry (I think this is a good term – otherwise psychotherapists tend to evade the realities of the need to make money, and the need for others to be able to afford it).

    I’d need to think more about the source of most of our problems being abusive people (including ourselves). Certainly most people I have known who’ve gone to psychotherapy have been traumatised by others at some stage. I want to say you are right, it feels like it to me. I’d like to know others’ experience too. I’ll need to think about it some more.

    Thanks for a very thoughtful comment.

  9. lots of interesting comments here! i have to pick up on “we learn almost everything: from walking to talking to…well, to pretty much everything that we do.”

    i think this is the kind of learning counselling is about. we don’t learn walking and talking in the same way as we learn things in school do we – we have a natural ability to walk and talk which we ‘grow into’ with good enough support and stimulation. but our parents don’t explain how to put one foot in front of the other.

    i think there is definitely a place for a kind of psycho-social education in schools, say on abusive patterns, as susan suggests. i would keep that seperate from the activity of counselling, though. i think caroljean expressed the difference between them very well.

  10. Thanks Sarah,

    I like the distinction between the usual kind of learning and schooling. (Current schooling I see as not that far from child abuse.)

    I guess separating the schooling from counselling could be useful. Keeping the counselling for the more individualised learning and teaching that Caroljean talked about.

    My hope is that we can the benefits of counselling to lots more people lots more quickly.

    Like you I’m very impressed with the quality of comments (including yours).

    Thanks

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