RIP – Allan Holdsworth

It was announced early this week that Allan Holdsworth had passed away.  Allan is a legend guitarist.  I’ve written a longer eulogy on my other blog .

However here I’ll also stuff in a great tune – one of my favourites of his – Joshua off the album Secrets.



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Buzzkill Podcast

Paul’s latest podcast over at Buzzkill is on a topic I raised in his request for things to discuss as mentioned by a couple of commentators to the last post.  Loved hearing his views on it.   Would love to hear what others think too.



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I’ve not written much recently on here.  I’m a poor blogger, do I have much to say?  Not really.  But anyway here is an update on things.

Firstly – I passed my exam that I took back in January.  Woohoo!  One of the big steps out of the way on my way to being a counsellor.  Sadly one of my peers didn’t.  I so feel for her – plus I was frankly simply shocked and surprised that she didn’t pass.  I’ve considered her a bit of a role model this year.  She has had her own self-confidence really knocked too as she thought it was good enough to pass too.  However my observation is that part of the exam is “easy to fail”.  To explain, the exam is split into two parts.  One is an audio session with a peer on a roleplay.  Second part is a written paper,  a lot of the questions related to your session you recorded.   Let’s look at how these are marked.  On the written paper you start with nothing and you gain marks until you pass.  On any question I could write 7 things that are wrong and then the 2 that are right and probably pass.  You only need to get 50% to pass btw.  On the audio though you start with 100% and you lose marks.  Actually it is 7 marks and you can lose a whole mark, half or quarter depending on the indiscretion and how the examiner judges it.  You need to get 5 to pass.  Yep about 70% – high…. and you are losing marks not gaining them.  So if you say something early on the examiner doesn’t like and they mark you down on that, they are attuned to that and other things you may say that they may have let go on another recording they notice and another little mark off…  you get the picture.    I also passed another internal assessment as well.  All good ticks against progress to the diploma.

My placement is ending at the end of April.  I’ve taken the bull by the horns and approached some other places.  Now I’ve heard that getting a placement is really hard esp given I’m sort of at the worst time as all the year one diploma folks are trying to find their placements.  Well… I contacted 5.  One has no placements at all, in fact they are winding up the service due to funding hassles too.   The other 4… all offered me an interview.  Wow!   So I’m playing all of them out as from July I’ll be finished on the course and have a choice to then work on that day too.  I hope to try and get my 100 hours completed by the end of calendar year this year.  I’m mid 30s at the moment.  We’ll see but getting so many responses was really encouraging.

What else?  I had some real issues recently with some issues in a couple of different environments I’m in where there were personal attacks on people and anger and resentment etc. etc.  It made me feel yucky – I didn’t like it. I was upset and felt annoyed and angry etc.   But I wasn’t the person directly in the attacks etc. so… I did nothing but talk in confidence to those I can trust to air my feelings.  I did though stay out of the issue.  Held my tongue and just sat it out.  This for me is really a sign on my development that I can let it go.  I let it be and didn’t jump in to fight or rescue or whatever.  Progress… indeed.


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On my walk to the station three or four days a week I walk down what is locally known as the church path. The final bit of which runs alongside the graveyard and, not surprisingly, the church. Tucked under a tree is the grave of a WWI soldier, Gunner Hadlow.  As you can see from the inscription on the typical WWI headstone he died on 16th March 1918. So just less than 9 months before “the war to end all wars” ended. 

Notice too the two small poppies that currently adorn his grave. Later this week it will be 99 years to the day that poor Gunner Hadlow passed away but still someone in my community remembers his sacrifice. I’m remarkably touched by that small but significant gesture. 

Seems to me lately as a society we’re not doing the level of remembering we perhaps should do. 

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Presentations and Closures

It appears that the service I’ve had my placement at so far for my counselling course is a victim of the austerity clamour that the financial crisis somehow has imposed on local government.  I’ll not get into the nonsense of central government continually cutting local government budgets to prop up failing banks that simply add a few billion of loses to the exchequers overdraft ever few months.  Anyway – last week we were told the service is under review and the heavy hint is that means it’ll be closing in the short term.  Bugger!  I’ve just begun to feel confident there in my role now and settling into getting clients to stick with me and the service.  I’ll be a long way off my need 100 hours too.  So I need to start looking for a new placement soon.  I’m also angry and annoyed as many of the people I see can’t afford private counselling and also many wouldn’t go near counselling at all it is only as it is recommended by a keyworker who they have build trust with, in an environment they feel comfortable with and with a service they trust and isn’t seen as something completely separate.  Handing them a card with say a mental health charity on it and saying you can try them isn’t going to get many of them the opportunity they really need to engage with counselling for the first time.  Of all my clients only one had ever experienced counselling in another setting.  I think that speaks volumes.

On a brighter note we started our first case study presentations last week.  In order to not go into melt down and rewrite mine quickly in a week after seeing others I volunteered to be in the first cohort on the first week and… yippee – I passed!   So another minor step out of the way.

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Wealth – where is it?

Oxfam produce some interesting stats in their work.  Particularly about distribution of wealth.

It wasn’t too long ago I read them saying that 50% of the world’s wealth was owned by just enough people to fit on a London double decker bus (approx 70).  Now only a few years later that number has tumbled –  to 8!   If the trend continues in a few years it’ll be 1 or 2 people.   How have we come to a world of such great inquietude?

Couple this with that Oxfam also say that 1% of the world’s population has as much as they other 99%.  In fact I’m probably if not in that 1% I’m close to it – like many other middle aged people who’ve bought their own house and ferreted away some savings in Western Europe or North America.  I’m not rich in that I can’t consider buying multiple houses, yachts, supercars etc. but I am actually super rich compared with the vast majority of the world.  I have a house, car, savings, enough clothes for a month of daily changes and a fridge and freezer stuffed with food to feed my family for weeks.  That is riches beyond many people’s comprehension.  That’s before you consider welfare, healthcare and the freedoms I have to be who I want to be and say what I want to say.

And still I hear we have to make cuts in education spending, revise and radically change how we spend on healthcare etc.  In the UK councils are slashing social care budgets and many many services for the disadvantaged only run due to the army of volunteers that do stuff for free or virtually nothing – themselves potentially slipping into poverty as carers etc.  I watch programmes about carers under 10 having to care for a sick parent, cleaning and cooking when they should be playing and studying but we can’t afford to pay someone to take this responsibility away from them.  We give £10 to a charity so the kid gets an hour a week at a trampoline park. Really? And heaven forbid we open our borders to let in those that have no opportunity to any kind of life in countries ravaged with corruption, famine and war.

I offer no solution but I really don’t think the ruling class we have in positions of power at the moment make me think anything will change in this inexorable rise of wealth from the bottom to the top.  From Blair to Cameron, from Trump to May, from Farage to Osborne etc. they are all wealthy privileged people clearly who are very clearly in that 1% and they seem to want to help give more of the world to that rugby scrum of rich men at the top who have bank accounts that would make many calculators produce Err on the summation.

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Conference – inspiring and deflating

I went to a conference on Saturday.  It was the Bridging the gap student event put on by the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy).

So it was both really inspiring and deflating.  Not in equal measure I feel.

The deflation ….

Firstly the average salary of a counsellor in the UK?  £11,000.  That is deflating in terms of what it means about who will come and work in the industry.  I’m sorry but the majority of the attendees filled the UK stereotype of a counsellor.  White, middle aged, middle class, female.  One speaker pointed this out saying right at the start of their training they asked a tutor why that was so.  His response was “Because they have white, middle aged, middle class husbands that can pay for them to play at counselling”.  I don’t believe these people are playing at it at all I’m sure the vast majority are committed caring individuals but there’s some truism in the statement and that stereotype sadly.  However as someone who is definitely not one of those categories – I’m certainly a male and doesn’t associate with another despite all appearances – I’ll be working class till I die no matter what house I own, car I drive or career I follow (for me being working class is in my genes not in my bank balance) I may have some unique selling points to offer clients.

Now the inspiration…

Loads of it.  People talking about how they forged out a private practice using ingenious methods like swapping their spare room with someone else.  Genius!  Don’t want to counselling in your own home but can’t afford to rent somewhere?  Know someone with the same problem?  Do you both have a room you could convert to a counselling space?  Yes?  Then you use theirs they use yours and let your clients know it is only a business arrangement that you use that room.  Simple genius!

One thing really struck me was a talk which touched on do we as a counselling profession actually help with the oppression of the minority and the diverse?  By helping these folks integrate into society are we simply oppressing their individualism to ensure they look more like the rest of us?  Like… WOW man!  Got me thinking.  Also if you work for an organisation to counsel staff or other stakeholders are you simply propping up a failing institution by helping those people cope week to week rather than deal with the systemic issues within that organisation?  Say you took one day a week to counselling the staff of a company and every week every one of your clients moaned about the hours they have to work, that they are taking work home at the weekend and it was damaging their families lives etc?  And that they all broadly said “Talking to you is the only way I cope getting through the week”.  You look at the nice regular fixed income this company is providing and that you’ve promised complete confidentiality to your clients and that nothing will go back to the employer?   But really… what should you do?

Actually those two situations sound bleak but to me that was actually inspirational about the value of being a counsellor to those people, to society and to the institutions we may be employed by.  But it is an ethical dilemma labyrinth.

The big thing that really came out to me though was – be authentic, be who you are as a person as a counsellor, don’t just play the role as a counsellor.  If you are acting a part you truly aren’t underneath the client will smell a phony and soon depart and you’ll never reap the benefit of helping people with the exploration that is potentially available to them.  The inspiration far outweighed the deflation btw.

Okay now… where was I with that Case Study!

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