Christine Moran – Personal Experience & Life-long Learning
IACP Talk for student and pre-accredited members – by Christine Moran in Wynne’s Hotel Dublin, June 2017
Personal Experience, Life-long Learning and Counselling and Psychotherapy Training
Welcome everyone, it is my pleasure and my privilege to be here at this IACP talk this evening. I would like to tell you a story –
Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved playing in nature, hearing the wind in the trees, making mud pies. Growing up on a farm there was a naturalness to birth and death, life cycles and changing seasons. She was full of curiosity and imagination.
At 7 she knew about Jung’s trapdoor to the basement, of course she was unaware of Carl Jung. She told her younger sister that under the autumn leaves there was a trapdoor and a stair that led down to a room that held the secrets of life, and this room was just as you would want it to be. Her sister now tells the story that every day as a child after school she went down under the trees to look for this magic door!
She dreamed of being a teacher, or working in a library, or being on stage – acting or singing, owning her own business – at 10 she rented her Comics to other children in school for 1 penny, she dreamed of owning a coffee shop at 12. She had a notebook full of menus and costings.
She left school at 16 and worked in the Civil Service. She sat her Leaving Certificate after attending night classes in Dublin. She felt unfulfilled with office work and left, and moved to work in the kitchen in the local hospital. At 20 she got married, gave birth to 6 children and loved being a wife and mother, most of the time! She opened a shop, closed it, opened another one and closed it.
Returned to education – a parenting course, a start your own business course, family ministry course. She commenced a Foundation course in Counselling and Psychotherapy and later went on to do a Professional Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
At 40 she separated after 20 years of marriage. Establishing New Beginnings Counselling Services supported her journey as a beginning therapist, this was both an exciting and a terrifying adventure. She fell in love again with herself and others, and the world. She was busy rearing and coping with teenagers, and then there were her grandchildren and a new era began.
She got accredited by IACP as a counsellor/psychotherapist. Five years later she undertook supervision training and became an IACP accredited supervisor. She began tutoring with counselling training colleges. Soon after she published her book Dear Precious Being and took part in a film His and Hers!
She loved her time in DCU doing her Master’s Degree. Living the life of a student for the first time! She got married to her beloved Tom. She opened with her husband Tom, the ICPPD, the International College for Personal and Professional Development Counselling/Psychotherapy Training College 7 years ago in Athlone. This third level provider now offers a BA degree in Holistic Counselling and Psychotherapy in Athlone and Galway which is professionally accredited by IACP and academically validated by QQI. ICPPD also offers other programmes including a Professional Diploma in Advanced Supervision which currently is the first and only IACP accredited supervision training in Ireland. www.icppd.com is our website.
As the mother of 6, she is now the proud grandmother of 17 grandchildren. In 2016, she received the Carl Berkeley Memorial Award from IACP, and she is now doing her Doctorate in Psychotherapy. I wonder what new adventures lie ahead for her? I wonder what other amazing people will come into her life? Oh, the places she might go? I wonder…
I share a little of my story with you, to honour the wisdom of the little girl who was a dreamer. Dreams do come true – she eventually became the teacher, is surrounded by books and paperwork, is part owner of her own business, and in this here and now is on stage!
Her and I have journeyed long and hard together, and I wouldn’t have missed any of it, it has made me what I am today! I share my personal experience, not from a place of ego, because I believe that there is a master plan for me and you, but in the hope that you recognise in me a life-long learner and that you recognise this in yourself also. You too are a dreamer, you can’t help yourself, your true nature is inviting you to learn, to grow, to move forward, to love yourself and others, to share your humanity.
What did you dream of being as a child? What are your dreams now? What is your vision? Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? What do you see yourself doing? What will bring you joy?
As a therapist, the learning takes place in your training room and in supervision, in the therapy room as a client and then in the therapy room with your client. Of course, your rich life experiences are an intricate tapestry. I would encourage you to become involved not only in your life, especially self-care, nurturance, fun and healthy relationships, and in your profession, in whatever supports your growth as a professional in this field. Upskilling, doing research, ongoing training and networking, being part of your professional body.
When Tom lost his son two years ago, he went for support to a therapist who is 90 years of age – you are starting your counselling career, in this field you can work as long as you wish, once you have the health to do so!
When we started ICPPD we experienced the difficulties presented by academic challenges – it felt like were learning a new language, new criteria, new system and trying to marry and integrate the professional, practitioner focus of therapy and our Professional Body with the National Framework Qualifications of QQI. This was and is an ongoing struggle, a learning curve for us. This can also be a struggle for learners – especially those returning to education and the challenge of assessments and exams. The other side of this are learners comfortable with theory and exams who struggle with sharing personal responses and experiences.
Therefore, adult education needs to support wholeness and offer the learner opportunities to develop latent talents and skills. I am an advocate of experiential learning for adult learners. For me, personally – my ongoing therapy which I started going to nearly 25 years ago at a time when I lost myself and became disconnected from my internal wisdom, has been a wonderful support and learning arena.
I still regularly attend therapy. It is a support for me personally, for my work and for professional issues and with a large family there is always fertile ground for exploration, learning and self-discovery. I recommend on-going personal therapy for working therapists. I don’t think we can work in this profession without support, challenge, nurturance, learning, expanded awareness and processing our emotions. I ask myself what gives me the right to sit with a client if I am not prepared to work on my own life issues? I know now, that my learning about myself and counselling began when I finished my training. I had the foundation of my training course and then I was on my own. My clients were my best teachers. The therapists I went to for further personal development opened more channels for information, self-inquiry, they invited my natural curiosity to question, to reflect and to be with my painful and joyful emotions.
When the other person is hurting, confused, troubled, anxious, alienated, terrified; or when he or she is doubtful of self-worth, uncertain as to identity, then understanding is called for. The gentle and sensitive companionship of an empathic stance… provides illumination and healing. In such situations deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another.
– Carl R. Rogers
The Latin word “educare” means to lead out, to bring out what is in the person. Education is a life-long process and we are all the time learning to bring out what is inside of us. We are alchemists. Like the gardener putting a seed into the soil and with nurturing, that seed is transformed into a beautiful tree – with branches, leaves, blossom and fruit, that is given unconditionally for up to 50 years – a wonderful alchemy.
This is your sacred work as a therapist, making a difference that ripples out beyond the counselling room. The work of the gardener is not to tell the seed how to become an apple tree, but to provide right conditions, soil, water, sunshine, protection so the seed can develop into a tree, he/she is loving the seed, caring for the soil, relating to the wonder and miracle of life as the seed becomes a tree.
This is a simple metaphor for therapy and adult education as I see it. For our work as therapists, we appreciate that every human is born with potential, like the acorn into the oak tree. Hopefully we all get some support to develop our potential, to follow a journey of adventure, to discover ourselves, who we are.
Education is a journey of self-realisation. Holistic education is learning with your whole being. We are born into this amazing wonderfully designed body. In the body, we have the brain and the mind that is bigger and lives throughout the body, and we have heart, imagination, creativity and more.
Sometimes we get lost and focus only on the brain and the head – all our being holds elements of learning and education. Educate your heads of course, with information, knowledge and ideas, but if your heart is not developed – how will you deal with relationships in your life?
The key to your life is relationship. Training our heart, we learn compassion, to feel generosity, love, sorrow and all feelings. Hands are a magical gift to us, through our hands with our heart and imagination co-ordinated, we can transform ourselves and others.
We are all artists. The greatest art is the art of living. We are always students of life. So, education must help us to bring out our true artist, encourage us to open our minds to a bigger picture. You cannot learn about nature from a book, you need to experience nature to know it, knowledge without experience is incomplete.
According to Ananda Coomraswamy – “An artist is not a special kind of person, but every person is a special kind of artist.”
You know something in your head, but you must experience it in your body, in your heart, in your senses, through your eyes, then your knowledge is truly realised, enhanced, completed. You have created a relationship, not a study of an object, but an experience of its fullness. The challenge of education is producing well-equipped people with imagination, creativity, skills, ideas and heart relationships who will go into the world joyfully. As a learner, I hope you have experienced this kind of education.
So, my wish for you all is that you will develop your own spiritual, ethical, imaginative, artistic self. Create your own path; follow the master in your heart.
My heartfelt gratitude to the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, IACP
– Christine Moran, Student of Life and Love!