Published in Student Stories on August 29th 2019
How counselling training explores human behaviour and helps relationships.
Monica Elba* is a psychodynamic couple psychotherapist and also undertakes training and supervision. She works as a therapist and trainer at Tavistock Relationships and runs her own successful practice in South London.
I was working in a central London law firm as a junior lawyer in a litigation department. The nature of the work was high conflict and I was interested in looking for extra training to help understand and work better with people in conflict. I came across the training at Tavistock Relationships. Their training in relationship counselling caught my eye as a way of thinking about relationships that are not working.
When I began the training I started to find that I was really interested in the psychological side of things and perhaps that was what had drawn me into working in litigation. I found that there wasn’t quite the space in what I was doing legally to explore that side of human dynamics, and decided to focus on the couple training in the long term. I didn’t necessarily have a plan and initially I saw it as a supplement to what I was doing at the time but it was all so fascinating that I knew I had to keep on with it.
If I was going to invest all the time in the course I knew I wanted to go somewhere I could trust to deliver on training.
I felt very assured by the experience of the organisation and its standing in the therapeutic community. If I was going to invest all the time in the course I knew I wanted to go somewhere I could trust to deliver on training.
I was working full time and fitting the training around my job. Thinking back on it, I know it was a very intense few years but somehow it seemed to work and the course was flexible to my needs so I built up my client hours at a rate that was do-able. In fact at one point I took a year out of study due to changing law firms. I was seeing clients in the early morning and evening one or two days a week.
I loved it – in a long career of academics including a 4 year degree I had never felt such an interest in a subject. It was also very bonding working with the other trainees and we felt like we were all in it together. It was great to work with a whole set of new acquaintances, many of whom became friends.
The quality of teaching and thinking both theoretically and in supervision was of a very high standard.
It seemed to me the only place that really focused on learning about relationships. The quality of teaching and thinking both theoretically and in supervision was of a very high standard.
I was used to working face to face with people in difficult situations and talking with them about their situation. I was also used to producing written work and this was helpful for the written aspects of the course.
A real intellectual stimulation and opened up a new way of thinking about how people develop from an early age.
Terrified! But in the safe hands of my reassuring supervisor.
The one thing that has always struck me is how much important support you get as a therapist at TR through supervision and colleagues. It is really a key part of the work and something that wasn’t valued when working on the front line with clients as a lawyer. What it means is that you don’t take your work worries home and that you always have someone else to think about them with.
By the time I had finished the training I knew that I had found my vocation so it was a no-brainer to change into a different career.
The world is complex and our relationships are so precious. I think it’s becoming better understood that therapy really helps and there is less stigma around it.
I think if you have an interest in the work and the ideas, this will carry you through. You need to be organised but if you are committed you get into the swing of it.
It’s a privilege to work in a field where it feels like you can make a difference to an important aspect of people’s lives.
It’s a privilege to work in a field where it feels like you can make a difference to an important aspect of people’s lives. Although I now work privately as well as at TR, my training and colleagues at TR have given me a valuable community in which to think and to work.
*Names have been changed to protect client anonymity