Reflections on becoming a counsellor.

Ambivalence, Supervision & Change by Louise Frame

Choosing to make a change, even with plenty of options doesn’t come easy, the process of change comes with various challenges, exploration and faith, a belief in ourselves that fits uniquely to us, with all the will in the world, counselling/ supervision, motivational interviewing, discussion and other perspectives from others, the decision lies deep within often fraught with doubt, what ifs and discomfort, for only us to debate and then eventually decide to change.

Often for clients the lifestyle change comes after a specific experience, a moment of clarity, an existential crisis, a rock bottom, driving and or forcing a need for change or what can only often be described as a shift, a feeling, a knowing, which begins the process of re-evaluating life, exploring options and ultimately opting to making change happen.

Even when that change has been decided the journey is seldom straight forward, new awareness follows and new perspectives invite themselves in, which can often create even more overwhelm, the importance of slowing down and continuing to reflect, process and ground ourselves would seem like an essential quality to adopt to overcome the tug that wants to remain well within the comfort zone, within the cozy blanket of familiarity and safety.

The ambivalence would appear to come from the uncertainty, the unknown and the fear of what ifs. A human given to feel reassured, safe and certain, protecting us from change, even when in the midst we are still analysing and ruminating on our doubts, navigating unknowingly the cycle of change for which there is no reverse.  

Only when we can own our decision to move on, really embody the change, when the discomfort of not changing overwhelms us more that the thought of change, that moment of clarity and newfound comfort can we move forward. 

My own recent experience of creating change for other personal reasons and driving factors which really challenged my own values and beliefs about making that change, this has undoubtedly made me consider how my clients must feel and how vulnerable even considering change can make us feel. 

Talking in supervision definitely helped, being able to look objectively at the pros and cons, whilst feeling supported and reassured in any decision making was helpful, the safe space without judgement, just like in the counselling room, reflecting back my thoughts helped to process my feelings and gave me new insight into my motivations and reassurance that I am in the driving seat.  The possibilities remain open and endless.  

What's Your Addiction?

For years, food has been my go-to gal. No matter what dip in emotion I experienced a piece of food, usually a chocolate bar was able to restore my equilibrium, until the next time, usually 20 minutes later. 

The funny thing is no matter how much I ate, I never, ever felt full. I’ve had to unpack my relationship with food, and it’s been uncomfortable. In terms of a relationship, it’s been unbalanced. I discovered I wasn’t eating because I was hungry. I was eating because it offered comfort.

My emotional attachment to food impacted on other areas in my life. It felt safe when my cupboards were full. I overspent and had to throw out food. I ate in cafes and restaurants as well as having full kitchen cupboards. Then as the pounds piled on I felt more tired and wore black to hide myself. 

I wonder how much of this we can really relate to and see the similarities in a relationship with substances? Is feeling safe and causing less anxiety so we ensure we have additional supplies to hand in case we don't have enough to get us through the day. Our social lives presenting more appeal as they are in an environment that will make substances easier to access. Consequently, overspending on the substances which usually means going without something else. As well as visiting certain friends more because we know they use substances as well and eventually becoming isolated as the substances completely take over our lives.

Looking at our addictions and the way they can dictate our lives is not easy. Do we think that it does take over our lives or would we be more comfortable saying it's just a normal part of our life? Counselling can offer us an opportunity to examine the relationships we may have begun with any substances in our life and a safe space to explore this at a deeper level. 

I wonder when we use the word ‘addiction’ what image does it conjure up? I am sure that for every one of us this may be different raising lots of different questions. Addiction versus dependency - Do we see these as completely different, does one of them feel easier to say, do we think one is much more acceptable in society? Is it that we feel there is much more stigma attached to the word Addiction? Do we feel one of them is much more in our control than the other? 

No matter where you are in the process of change or the cycle of change, we refer to at FASS. You can be assured a warm welcome, understanding and a non-judgemental approach as you walk through our front door.  Even if you feel you are not in the process of change you may be willing to discuss reducing the risk of harm to yourself. 

And as for me, a few stone down I can say the learning is eternal and an apple and bike ride make me feel a lot better than a chocolate bar. While this sounds like a healthy choice the road to get there is thoughtful and not without courage. Remember every single step towards change can be celebrated. 

These thoughts make me curious about other addictions. I wonder are you reading this on your phone…?

You can find out more about our free services here:

Dry January

When I think of January, I can’t help feeling guilty.

While December brings warmth and indulgence in the form of Christmas pudding and steak pie. January herald’s resolutions, lots of water and a side dish of seasonal guilt.

For our clients, this month also presents an opportunity in the form of Dry January. A chance for folk to take a step back, increase their self-awareness of their alcohol use and make some positive lifestyle changes.

Change can be scary and sometimes we believe that to make these changes we need make an exceptional 180 without looking back into the reverse mirror. What if instead of aiming for inhuman perfection we celebrated January as a month of trying your best?

After all, the first time you ride a bike without stabilisers did you whizz down the road without falling off. No? Me neither. Whatever changes you wish to make whether it is reduced alcohol consumption or abstinence FASS is here without judgement.

You can find out more about our free services here: FASS | Supporting you one step at a time ( 

You can find out more about Dry January here: Dry January | Alcohol Change UK 

We are here. 

In Theory

It’s strange being back at college. Going out in the night-time to fluorescent lights and cafeteria coffee is a concept after a couple of years of lockdown . The nerves dissipate in the classroom, when the familiar from school and in later years college, comes alive.

Since the term began, we’ve been focusing on psychodynamic traditions. The folk whose ideas form an intrinsic part of our vocation history. As we learn in Lang Toon in our heads we’re in Vienna with Sigmund Freud and Switzerland with Carl Jung.

I sometimes wonder how our clients view a counselling session. Does it conjure up the images of a chaise long couch with an older, stern man looking at them over half-moon glasses and writing notes? It's an image, albeit historical, that came up for me before I come to counselling as a student.

As a counselling agency we recently completed the initial training for our new student placements and we look forward to welcoming the new team members to their outreach teams in the next few weeks. In the classroom and on the front line, our learning continues.

And while theory sits in the background and we as students acknowledge what has come before us, it's the present-day evolution that starts with our clients.

Sigmund Freud tells us our dreams share the story of our subconscious and according to pop culture it’s all our mother’s fault. Carl Jung encourages us to celebrate our unconsciousness and dance into the mystic, years before Van Morrison coined the melody.

However, the fact remains, as we much as we rest in the comfort of words and knowledge - we don’t live in a book.

Walking through the week can be challenging for some and as we witness the authenticity of our clients, we learn being mindful works, using a drinks diary works, and putting yourself and your recovery first, for what may be the first time in your life, brings hope and choices.

And whilst we acknowledge the counselling founding fathers and geek out on their theories this is the kind of theory I Iike.

Back to School

It’s that time of year again.

Christmas and New Year are now drifting into memory along with an overindulgence of cheese and chocolate and we’re all back, with a thud, to knowing what day of the week it is and the familiar, if harsh, sound of the alarm clock in the dark, winter mornings.

For us trainee counsellors heading back to our diplomas, it’s another step in our learning journey. The course is intense and demanding as it should be we work towards gaining the BACP accreditation for the privilege of offering a safe, professional, and ethical space to our clients, with the support of Fife Alcohol Support Service who have offered psychotherapy to the people of Fife who are struggling with alcohol issues for over 40 years. Heading back to the online classroom, after two weeks of relaxation, is a thought.

There are also changes afoot for our service as we return to counselling via telephone instead of our traditional face-to-face appointments as we monitor ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and keep our clients, staff and volunteers safe.

This transition made me think about our clients. What is Christmas and particularly the New Year, the traditional season of consumption like for them? How do they navigate this and keep themselves safe? Most of all, I wondered if this challenging time of self-care is acknowledged and while as a trainee counsellors we head back to college with butterfly stomach nerves, the courage of our clients, trying to make changes during what could be the most challenging two weeks of the year should be acknowledged and celebrated.

If this is you, we see you and acknowledge your courage and bravery as we know it can’t have been easy for you.

And if you need our help and support you know where we here – to listen, to hold a safe space and to acknowledge the journey so far, as we ourselves never stop learning.

We are here.