The Face of Bohemia


In the Beginning

The year is 1994/5. The question is “What are the shortcomings of the current methods of therapy delivery?” Almost at once more questions begin to form. “What role does each of the current players in this field bring to the service?” And then the most relevant question of all “Is it enough to be good at the delivery as measured by 1994 values or should I look towards a future sense of how talking therapies should be delivered in years to come?”

For me, looking towards the future could not be dismissed. How we do things now, and, is this how it should be, loomed large in the process. It also emerged that doing similar things as others under the guise of “this is how it is done” or “this is safe” etc., would not do at all. Without development our whole profession would stumble and fall backwards into ineffectual and irrelevant practices.

My next step was to visit many magnolia and white sad therapy centres, (many with “Silence, Counselling in Progress” signs).

The backlash of this was a view that the therapy started from the first sight the client had of your advertisements or flyers.

Therefore, the paperwork must convey the essence of the agency or service.

So, what should we seek to do? Be friendly, welcoming, positive and ordinary as possible, a huge change in it’s self.

My choice was to put my understanding of what it is to be Humanistic in the top slot of “how do I see my extended practice?” The sense that humans can only be human, each of us having similar potential to any other human on the earth; our daily quest for life containing our own sense of personal wellness at our core; our efforts to judge, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, positive or negative et al, all feeding into our personal wellbeing. In turn, supporting a view that in the main our wellbeing works best when we work with what we judge to be wholesome raw materials. The overarching Humanistic understanding holds a large part of all the therapy models it supports, person-centred, Gestalt et al, all the models in many ways similar to each other. All the models could be lost to the Humanistic understanding with little or no damage to the understanding, all of the models being the tools that engage with the practitioner’s life style and beliefs and play a huge part in the fitness to practice of us all. Clients need not understand any of the models to get much from good therapy. The practitioner must understand as many models as possible and be aware of the model that supports their life and themselves. We need not get snowed under by words and an exact definition but we must work hard at a shared sense of the understandings of our world, each of us remaining an individual with the responsibility of being that individual.

So my colours were chosen for their calming and positive aspects. The layout was open, light and airy. The rooms were small with the model or stance of the airy running throughout.

The sense of sharing and the open welcome (with tea or coffee) became the norm for us. The whole humanistic stance was built in to my Centre and my sense of how to develop the counselling process was made real.

The view that my work must show the true relationship between the humanistic theory and the many models is vital – the sense that the broader the model and the fewer obstacles put in it the better it would be.

The use of support workers to help the public’s wishes become practical attainments forms part of my understanding of how we should work.

The understanding that counselling and psychology theory have many areas where there can be integration of data.

And Now

The time is now twenty years on and we remain different. (We still only employ volunteers.) (We never need to advertise for clients.)

We run currently between 15 and 20 therapists. We undertake the teaching role for many universities and training schools.

We have developed and continue to do so. We remain on the front line of research and service provision.

I continue to hope for a bright future for our profession. (I know the dinosaur-like ethics groups and traditionalists struggle with a modern view.)

Am I happy with how we are? For ten years the client comments have run at a 96% positive experience, showing how positively the clients interpret the Bohemia Counselling experience.

My understanding that my work has helped many services to be similar to us (in the main our way is found to be ordinary on many high streets) pleases me.

We have far to go but must remember Rogers’ view “If we work past our time this would be wrong. When it is time for the next or new way let it be so.”

Returning to the past can only ever show us how we have reached the present. If we need to build the future, let how we feel about the now be our guide.

If it feels poor, shabby, not good enough et al, it may be so. In 1995 this was my sense of the profession. For all of those that have built and developed the now, thanks. I hope we can move though the next period with similar vision and energy.

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