Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Our trainee psychotherapist makes the 3rd Year

The prospect of the mythical third year loomed somewhat large at college. This was our last academic year of training and by all accounts it was the hardest, most intense year yet. Even our head of year told us, with a glint in his eye, that third year is when they really ‘put the screws on’. Ouch.

For a start, the dreaded ‘fish bowl’ exercise from first year (where you role-play being a therapist for 50 minutes in front of your peers) was back in the form of a weekly ‘Integration’ group. It wasn’t clear was we were supposed to be integrating – fear? Public humiliation? Add to this, came the smug Finalists assuring us it was the best year by far and worth the accompanying nervous breakdown. The third year, we were told, was utterly transformative (presumably in the same way that near-death experiences were).

Now I find myself four weeks away from completing the end of Third Year and on the cusp of being a smug finalist myself, I ask; was it worth the hype? Have I emerged intact from the toughest year of psychological boot-camp? Emphatically, yes. At the beginning of our MA (about a hundred years ago, or so it feels) we were told that ours was an ‘experiential’ training; a necessarily testing self-exploration process in order that we might go out in the world, fly the nest as it were, robust enough to fly. We heard rumours of nervous break-downs, we heard horror stories and as time passed told horror stories of our own (a notorious experiential weekend module springs to mind, where we had to get into ‘family groups’ and stay in role for an entire weekend in full Stanislavski mode).

However more than any other year, the notorious Third year has been the most intense – and intensely rewarding – of all the years of training. Why? Well, the aforementioned Integration group for a start. As its name suggests this experiential module is aimed squarely at bringing together who you are as a person and how you practise as a therapist, with you in the hot-seat in a circle of your peers continually offering you feedback on your session. Terrifying? Yes. The third year’s Theory module too steps up the pace with the introduction of a more ‘relational’ way of working; theoretically speaking it throws out the idea of the ‘blank screen’ with the idea that you as a therapist shape the process of therapy with your own ‘stuff’ as much as the client. Food for thought. (Actually, more like a banquet.)

What strikes me most about the Third year though was how fast it has gone by. With the prospect of it ending – and with it the ritual of going to college every week altogether – I feel decidededly at a loss. Still, I survived. If that doesn’t give me fuel to fly, nothing will.