Westmeria Counselling is not just a counselling service, it’s also a counselling college. But if the word ‘college’ conjures up images of stuffy lecture halls and bad canteen food, then you might have a pleasant surprise. Qualifying as a counsellor might not be on your agenda, but their short 10-week course can help you develop in several areas of your life. Regardless of the industry you work in, this course is a fundamental step towards self-development and here’s why:
1. Learning to listen
This seems like something pretty basic and a skill you learnt to do when you were young. In fact, research shows that listening is one of our earliest abilities, one that begins whilst we’re still in the womb. So we should be fairly good at it once we’re adults, right? This isn’t always the case. ‘Listening’ is a far more complex ability than simply hearing. We might hear somebody talking but do we really listen? Listening is the ability to hear somebody both verbally and non-verbally and to be actively present with them.
Here’s what I learnt:
- Sometimes I’m not always actively listening. Yes, sometimes I drift off and that squirrel out the window seems way more interesting for a split second. Noticing when you’re doing this and how you can bring your attention back is valuable to learn.
- When I miss something they say, my brain does this funny thing where it fills in the blank. I was pretty sure my peer said she started her job at 21, but for that brief second I’d stopped actively listening. I didn’t hear what age she started her job at but I started mine at 21, so unintentionally I’d used my own perspective to find the answer.
- Usually I’m eager to listen, but I realise that sometimes I’m waiting for them to finish so I can talk… which, I discovered, means that I’m probably not listening very well at all!
A conscious knowledge of ourselves. An awareness of our character, our abilities, our feelings, our motives, our behaviour. If like me, you’re not new to self-discovery, you’ll discover that there’s still a WHOLE lot more to find out about you. One of my biggest learning curves was discovering how I see myself in different relationship dynamics. We were given a piece of paper with different images of people. We had to colour in which person we associated with ourselves in each scenario. When I looked back at the images I’d associated with, I recognised that what I felt about myself in some relationships, I felt the opposite in others. This piece of paper told a story about me and one that I’d never explored before.
3. Communication and Feedback
Perhaps your boss asks you for your feedback on a new company project or a friend asks you for your feedback on a predicament? Maybe you’re talking to a family member about a sensitive subject? Finding a way to offer this in an honest and effective way can be hugely challenging. What’s more, does it come out more critical than you intend or more reserved than you think it sounds? This course gave me the chance to not only build my feedback skills but to also explore the deeper thoughts and feelings that I have surrounding feedback. You’ll discover what might be holding you back from giving feedback and what your fears might be in receiving it.