017 – Returning to Study – Defence Mechanisms – Person-Centred Business – BACP Ethical Framework


017 – Returning to Study – Defence Mechanisms – Person-Centred Business – BACP Ethical Framework

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In episode 17 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast – the first in season 2 – Rory Lees-Oakes and Ken Kelly talk about returning to study after the summer break. ‘Theory with Rory’ looks at defence mechanisms, while Ken introduces a new segment, ‘Person-Centred Business’, with ideas on using your counselling skills to earn money. Finally, the presenters turn to the new Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions, published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

Returning to Study

Rory and Ken discuss the challenges and opportunities of returning to study after a break, offering various tips:

  • Keep calm – you will be given time to settle back into an existing course, or to find your way around at a new one.
  • Try to enjoy the chance to meet new people.
  • Use a diary to help you plan your time.
  • Share your experiences on the Counselling Tutor Facebook group (see ‘Links and Resources’).
  • Reflect on what going back to study means to you.

Defence Mechanisms

Sigmund Freud was the first to describe defence mechanisms, which are subconscious processes we put into place when we find a situation difficult.

The psychodynamic view of the human psyche suggests there are three parts of personality: the id, ego and super-ego. To compare the personality to an iceberg, the id is below the water and so we are unconscious of it, while the ego and super-ego appear above the water and so in our consciousness.

The id drives our primitive and instinctive urges (it is our ‘wild child’); Freud believed we are born only with the id, and that the ego and super-ego develop at three to five years of age. The id remains throughout life and demands our immediate attention.

The super-ego, meanwhile, is our ‘super-parent’. Comprising the conscience and the ideal self, it strives for perfection and is driven by values introjected by our parents and society. Falling short of its rigorous standards leaves us feeling guilty.

The ego is part of the id that has been modified by the outside world and has the unenviable task of acting as communicator between the ‘wild child’ and the ‘super-parent’. In this role, it strives for realism so that we can fit into – and be accepted by – the social world.

We use defence mechanisms to protect ourselves from anxiety and/or guilt – when we feel threatened, or when the id or super-ego becomes too demanding. Freud originally identified seven defence mechanisms:

  • repression – pushing away a thought or feeling (which might then leak out in a ‘Freudian slip’)
  • denial – refusing to accept that something exists or has happened
  • projection – taking an aspect of self and putting it onto someone else
  • rationalisation – creating an acceptable but incorrect explanation for a situation
  • intellectualisation – thinking about something logically without any attached emotion
  • reaction formation – doing the opposite of what you would like to do
  • regression – acting as a child might if they did not get their own way.

Rory illustrates all these defence mechanisms with real-life examples.

The concept of defence mechanisms was later developed further by Anna Freud (Sigmund’s daughter) and others; they took a wider and deeper view of these, identifying more mechanisms.

Person-Centred Business

In this exciting new slot, Ken asks us to reflect on why we might find it hard to ‘sell’ ourselves and our skills.

If we are truly happy to work voluntarily after qualification, that is fine, but equally it is reasonable to want to be paid as we have invested time, energy and money in our training. Because counsellors want to help people, they may feel it is wrong to charge for this. But doctors and nurses are paid for their helping work.

Over coming weeks – if you would find it helpful – Ken will use his background in marketing to present ideas and strategies for how to use your counselling qualification to make money. In this, mind-set is key. So challenge your own thinking and self-concept: how do you feel about making money from counselling, and why?

Rory recommends The Art of War by Sun Tzu to help get into the right mind-set (see ‘Links and Resources’).

BACP New Ethical Framework

On 1 July 2016, the BACP launched its new Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions. Key changes include the following:

The framework is now written very clearly, in plain English, making it more accessible to members of the public.
It includes a duty of candour – that is, to speak out if you see dangerous behaviour by other professionals.
Student counsellors have an explicit duty to inform clients they are in training.
All counsellors must now keep notes.

If you are a member of the Counselling Study Resource (CSR), look out for a CSR live lecture replay on this topic, covered on 4 September 2016.

Links and Resources