173 – Talking about Sex in Therapy

173 - Talking about Sex in Therapy

Configurations of Self - Sending and Receiving Contracts Online

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Rory Lees-Oakes and Ken Kelly open episode 173 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast with the 'Student Check-In', looking at configurations of self. Then, in the 'Digital Counselling Revolution', they give tips on how to get counselling contracts signed when working online or by telephone. Finally, 'Practice Matters' comprises an interview with Michael Pearson about talking about sex and sexuality in therapy.

Configurations of Self (starts at 1.55 mins)

Rory opens this segment with a reference to Star Trek and the idea of 'the many voices inside the one'. This refers not to the hearing of voices as may be experienced by people during psychosis but to the presence of a number of different parts of us that may or may not agree with each other.

Psychologist John Rowan wrote a book entitled Subpersonalities: The People Inside Us (Routledge, 1990).

The notion of subpersonalities appears in many modalities, e.g. transactional analysis (TA), where it takes the form of the parent, adult and child model. The concept of subpersonalities relates too to dialogical theory and the dialogical self.

In the person-centred approach, it was Dave Mearns who coined the term 'configurations of self'; prior to this, the organismic (or real) self had been seen by humanistic therapists as an indivisible whole.

While some configurations of self may be helpful ones, others may be 'not for growth': as therapists, we can support clients to identify these, make sense of them and work to get past them in how they live.

Understanding the concept of configurations of self and how to work with them can therefore help you work more effectively with your clients.

Rory has written a handout on configurations of self, which you can download here.

Sending and Receiving Contracts Online (starts at 10.55 mins)

In episode 164 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, we looked at online contracting - but how do you evidence the client's agreement to the counselling contract when working online or by telephone?

While you could email them a copy and ask them to add their signature and email it back, there is software available that collects the client's digital signature and alerts you when it has done so, so reducing work and helping your practice to look more professional. Ken and Rory discuss:

  • the importance of gaining evidence of agreement to the contract
  • some possible products you could look at
  • how to find other such products online - by searching 'e-signature software'
  • how this type of software works
  • the typical cost of using this
  • what to do if the client doesn't have access to a computer or smartphone
  • how to document agreement in the notes, if verbal consent is the only option.

You might also like to consider taking our course, Online and Telephone Counselling, which covers this topic in greater depth.

Talking about Sex in Therapy (starts at 22.35 mins)

Rory speaks to Michael Pearson, a therapist and lecturer in counselling, about talking about sex in therapy.

This is the topic of a new lecture he has recently recorded for Counsellor CPD.

Rory and Michael talk about:

  • why sex in counselling matters
  • why we should be ready both to raise and to respond to this important topic with clients
  • the importance of our own self-awareness regarding sex and sexuality
  • what we can do if we feel uncomfortable discussing sex with clients
  • the value of clinical supervision and personal therapy
  • the importance of being willing to mirror the client's terminology regarding sex
  • the prevalence of shame in sexual practice, and societal influences on this
  • the importance of understanding the full breadth of sex, not just the heteronormative model
  • the concept and use of chemsex, and how to support client autonomy and safety.

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