7World Café

Some time ago I was asked to act as chair for a debate within the counselling community. This was at the time when, in the UK, all health professionals were being asked to register with the Health Professions Council (HPC). Some groups of counsellors or therapists weren’t entirely convinced that this body would understand their unique and particular perspective or approach. The idea was that a representative of each of the main UK counselling bodies, plus a representative from the HPC, would hold a debate on a raised dais in front of an audience of counsellors and therapists. I was effectively being invited to referee a bun fight on stage and then field audience questions. The image the organizer had in mind was the kind of adversarial debate newscasters like to conduct.

This invitation was not attractive; however, the idea of being able to work with a large group of people always is. I held some conversations with the people who would be on the dais and read some background literature. It was evident that feelings were running very high about this. The questions the organizers wanted to ask suggested they were a bit caught up in the counselling culture of digging deeper into difficult feelings. The language of many of the questions as originally written was freighted with strong negative feelings. It seemed to me the HPC spokesperson was in danger of being publicly lynched, figuratively speaking. I wanted to help them construct a more constructive way of proceeding ...

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