Hello everyone, welcome to my thoughts.

Sitting down to write this piece I’m wondering what I might say. Some options would be to talk about the end of another year approaching and reflect on what has happened both personally and professionally in 2017. I could paint a picture of Christmas cards being written and sent, presents already wrapped and sitting perfectly under a beautifully lit Christmas tree next to a roaring log fire.

The truth is I’m sitting at my kitchen table which has multiple printed portfolios reminding me that a good deal of my Christmas will be spent marking. So far, the only Christmas cards I’ve sent are to America and Canada so lots more to do. There are one or two unwrapped gifts in the bottom of my wardrobe. As for the smell of Christmas baking, that’s being masked by the smell of fresh paint, the decorator continues to battle with getting the house finished for Christmas. 

I do have a beautifully lit Christmas tree and a roaring log fire so part of my initial image is true.

All of this reminds me of the fact that working online means we and therefore our clients have a greater means to adapt and portray changing images of ourselves. As a Director/ Tutor I notice this concept is something that new and not so new people to online counselling are most concerned with. The question for many remains “Do we ever really know who is at the other end of a screen or email”? For me, this is not something solely confined to working online but is perhaps more prevalent in an online setting. In my experience, most people are who they say they are.

As a therapist and supervisor who works relationally the value of trust is pivotal to my work whether that be with a person’s real sense of self or an adopted persona. As a tutor, I observe the dance between self and persona in the many students who study with us. Sometimes heading back to the classroom even an online one can bring all sorts of worries and fears about being judged especially as we are working with our peers. In those times, we may be triggered into setting out our stall as prettily as possible in a bid to disguise and protect the “real self” which is more vulnerable at that time. My introduction offers a snippet of such a dance. The question is which one is to be believed!?

I am sure that’s a question for another time. For now, I suspect you are all very busy with preparations for the festive season.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Maria O’Brien

Director Online Training for Counsellors Ltd