Entering the Final Year- the last run

Can you believe it?

Looking back at my first post prior to joining this course, it’s surreal where I am at now. It has been a long journey  tinged with lots of sweat, tears and uncertainty. I remember scoffing at tutors when they said ‘this course is going to test all that you have’, thinking that they are a bunch of dramatics. I mean, how hard could it be?

As my views matured, I begun to gain a more realistic picture. The course not only asks you to be an excellent therapist, you’ll have to be a doctoral level researcher and academic too. It asks you to address excruciatingly painful unresolved issues. It asks you to carry your clients difficulties whilst managing your own anxieties of being a trainee. To top it off churning out essays and research is a given part of the course. It certainly brings to fore and augments the self doubts and criticisms that you try so hard to bury and forget. In the race to the finish line, our cohort have lost half of its members, people whom I’m sure the whole cohort holds dear to their heart. All of them were incredibly passionate about the field. In the past, I believed that determination is the root of all success, as long as you try your best, you’ll get there, but it seems that in reality, it’s much more complex than that. One can’t help but feel slightly jaded in the face of all that.

Having said that, you can’t help but look back and think, did I really do all those things? Was I really capable of those things? It takes a holiday to realise how much pent up tension I have held within me. I may be somewhat jaded but definitely more settled in my confidence.


What’s selective feminism? Are we guilty of it?

‘Be a man, fix the light bulb’- This is a phrase that I’m certain some self-confess feminist may on one or more occasions throw out to their male friends or partners.  Admittedly, I have been guilty of it myself although I am a strongly proponent of women’s independence. And if you’re fortunate enough to have a male partner like mine who isn’t afraid to challenge me, and simply retorted, ‘what’s this about ‘being a man’, how would you like it, if I say ‘be a woman, cook my dinner’. It struck me. His comment makes sense.

So, do some of us practice selective feminism? Are our whims merely a call for attention by women? Do women secretly crave a man who complements your dress and buys you dinner? If so, are we being hypocrites? Do we even dare to call ourselves feminists? Perhaps, now more commonly known as the ‘f’ word. Where is the line? Is it a minefield for men, if women practice selective feminism? What is the consensus?

I support equality in the workplace, and breaking glass ceiling. I am also a strong believer in women’s determination and independence in supporting themselves. I have no qualms with professions such as strip dancers nor escorts, although some may deem it as objectification of women and strongly oppose it. However, equality in general? I don’t know… Perhaps, it has something to do with the way each of us are brought up? For me, I come from a family where traditional gender roles are practiced, moreover non-traditional ones are not avoided too. Household chores are carried out by my mother, moreover, she is also a managing director of a successful company. She would constantly say, ‘as a woman, you must know how to cook and take care of your family’. On the other hand, my father is the outwardly stern figure, who does all the DIY around the house. However, he would occasionally go food shopping and make meals. So, for me, domestic duties are second nature, however, I will never be content with being a stay at home mom. Does that make me less of a feminist? If feminist are not defined so, what exactly is it?

So going back to one of my earlier questions about selective feminism being a potential minefield for men. They may feel more than ever, that they cannot understand what goes through a woman’s mind. Obviously, there are some comments that are outright sexist , and no further thought needs to go into challenging them. But there are some, where, they may have a logical point, but somehow, they sound strange. For instance, recently, I spoke to someone who commented- ‘women should be excluded from the front line, they bring down men, when conflict happens, men have to take care of them, it’s dangerous. Men naturally have better stamina, physique, this is undeniable’. I was stunned, there is some kind of truth to it, but at the same time, the way it was expressed, was distasteful, I felt. Perhaps it was something about the neglect in recognising individuality. This is perhaps similar to the infamous popular notion that ‘all men are rapist’ because ‘male has more testosterone and greater sexual appetite, this is undeniable’. I am certain my male friends, wouldn’t enjoy this accusation and assumption of an universal nature.

(For those who are interested: I proceeded to challenge the idea of  ’front line’  with more modern warfare especially in Iraq and Afghanistan and that women are perhaps more than ever suited for this profession if they so wish. Also, I would imagine that policy makers would consider standards which must be met in order to proceed. Obviously, such topics doesn’t go down well around the dinner table. )

Perhaps, fundamentally, if conflicts in conversations were to be avoided, sensitive topics needs to be approached with care.  It is imperative to recognise that the feminist movement has a long history and alot has been fought for and achieved. It has not been an easy road. Gender stereotypes (Persaud and Brugen, 2013) and inequality still exist whether one likes it or not. Moreover, as with other ideologies, individuals are on different points on this spectrum. It is not a black and white scenario. Furthermore, it is an ever changing concept  There are even talk of a 4th wave of feminism (James, 2013) :

I always say, women have brains and uteruses, and are able to use both. (Karen Brady)

I find this quote particularly relevant,

You can flout traditional feminist conventions and still be a feminist. Feminism is about freedom of choice (Georgia James, 2013)

Equally, I feel that sexism towards men is not acceptable. Feminism has long had a bad rap because of anti-men sentiments, some individual feminists do, but not all.

I find this quote rings true to my idea of feminism:

I would also add that we all have choices. Do what you love first. I know many women who broke the glass ceiling but years later, had no children or even a partner in life. So, it’s my opinion that we all have to consider the realities of where we want to be and what we are willing to give up for it. It’s also OK not to be in the boardroom, but have a equal-paying job and live a balanced life. (Mary Buffett, 2013)

I would like to end this entry with a quote derived from Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean in’ taken from Buffett (2013). I find that it espouses the idea of equality well:

Feminism never meant that 50% of the jobs of any company should be distributed to women because of their gender; it meant that women should have an equal shot at any positions based on their abilities, regardless of their gender.



Buffett, M. (2013) Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and the Rise of Fourth Wave Feminism. Retrieved on 10th September 2013 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-buffett/lean-in_b_2902325.html.

James, G. (2013) Is this What It Means To be a Modern Feminist. Huffington Post. Retrieved on 10th September 2013 at  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/11/modern-feminism-definition_n_3582876.html#slide=2686103

Killerman, S. (2012) 5 reasons why so any people believe feminism hates men and why they’re not true. Everyday Feminism. Retrieved on 10th September, 2013 at http://everydayfeminism.com/2012/12/6-reasons-why-so-many-people-believe-feminism-hates-men/

Persaud, R., Brugen, P. (2013) Psychologists find female success is bad for romantic relationships. Huffington Post. Retrieved on 10th September 2013 at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-raj-persaud/female-success-is-bad-for-romantic-relationships-_b_3878694.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

I’ve learnt, but what does this mean?

I used to be tremendously afraid of conflict. And through months and months of talking it through with others, I have been constantly faced with one question: why am I so afraid of pissing people off?

Yes, it makes sense to avoid conflict, to maintain good relationships, but we are fundamentally very different individuals with very different opinions and ideas- so why would I expect that conflict will never exist? What was it that stopped me from engaging in conflicts? A desire to please others? A fear that I would be overpowered? An anxiety of not seeming to look like a ‘woman’?

I came to a realisation that I am experiencing what seems to be a gender identity crisis- What does being a woman means? What does being a woman who comes from a collectivist to an individualist culture means? What does being a woman who was brought up to do wifely duties yet studying a doctorate at the moment means? How does this impact on the people around me who may have perceived a big change in me, the M pre-doctorate and the M during-doctorate. The M who used to smile sweetly and politely but now stands up for her beliefs.

It has been an interesting journey so far. I recently got engaged, and some of the comments I received in my engagement card was to ‘be more submissive’, or ‘you’re sensitive’. More recently, I realised that, when I expressed my opinions vehemently, my male friends started leaving the table for a smoke or look around uncomfortably (Except for my fiancé who would debate to death with me). To clarify, I am in no way blaming them, merely very interested and curious at this phenomenon! The feedback I received was that I was behaving in a ‘sensitive’ manner. Am I? I acknowledge that when I feel very strongly about something, I can feel blood rushing to my face, my eyes flaring up and I respond with fervour. Moreover, I feel that I can take what is being said to me, and respond to it accordingly. I don’t feel at all uncomfortable in being challenged unless comments becomes personal – which I feel becomes the case a lot of the time. Topics tend to veer off to comments on personal attributes or quality rather than about the subject/topic itself. This is when I get defensive, which perhaps I should reflect on.

This anxiety where I will ‘piss people off’ and it’s a huge no no took alot of conscious effort to work through. It hasn’t come easily, it has taken years of confidence cultivating. It has served me well in my field especially, it had allowed me to publish, to present my opinion and ideas.

Perhaps, my male and even female friends are not used to this different me, perhaps it’s something about being a woman within a collectivist culture, perhaps it’s me coming across as defensive- it remains to be examined.

Last but not least, perhaps something to bolster recent knock-backs.


Remembrance Day. Why poppies?

It’s November 11th, Remembrance Day. A day to commemorate the valiant ones who fought in WW1 and subsequent wars. But one thing have always remained a mystery to me, why poppy?

Poppy is a flower that grow naturally in Western Europe. Apparently, after conflicts were fought on the fields during the Napoleonic wars which damages the soil condition, the only plant that were still able to grow were the red poppies. They surround the bodies of fallen soldiers and grew on their graves. But its significance as a memorial symbol came about a poem by war surgeon John McCrae’s ‘In Flander’s Field’.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

(Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields)

The poem which was written from the perspective of the dead thrusts hope to others to live on.

Did you know that the Remembrance Poppy is different in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the ones in Scotland? The ones in Scotland are curled and have four petals with no leaves whereas the ones in England, Wales and Northern Ireland the poppies have 2 petals, a green paper leaf and are mounted on a green plastic stem.


BBC-Remembrance- Why the Poppy? (2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/remembrance/how/poppy.shtml. Accessed on 11th November 2012.

Give me my Choo!

A late night entry after having a look at my bank account -descends me into a state of panic and self questioning. It hits me again, maybe more than ever how expensive this course is and how time and mind consuming it is. A part time job is out of the question for me, I don’t think I can handle it with placements (3 days a week), lectures (2 days a week) plus readings, assignments, and doctoral level research. Sigh. My partner said today (after looking at his dwindling bank (yes, him too) account as a result of supporting me on living expenses), ‘you better be earning a decent amount after you graduate cos you had some pretty expensive education’. Will I be earning a decent amount? Well what’s decent? I’m sure it’s nothing compared to bankers and accountants. Would it be self defeating to say that I’m not in it for the money considering my infinite materialistic wants and desires to possess pretty and decadent things? I can’t decide. I’m sure this is just a phase… but at the moment, Jimmy Choo is beckoning me… making me wish… want…

Here I come! A.

Well, there is a silly question:

- How many counselling psychologists does it take to start the elevator?

- Erm, normally one (unless they are in ‘’reflection’’ mode or sth.)… Actually, I have no answer to that question. In fact, I just wanted to direct your attention to the following: Don`t know if this ever happened to you, but I have noticed that when my colleagues and I enter an elevator everyone is so chatty and animated by being around like-minded people that for a moment everyone seems to have forgotten the purpose of the raising and lowering box and the target location.. Then, suddenly a female voice gets you back to Earth: ‘’Doors closing’’.

This blog makes me feel as though being there, in such an elevator, in some type of hypnotic state that gets my psy-mind running up and down with ideas. Thank you M. for the invite! It’s a great pleasure being part of your CP cyber world, as well as to share this staggering journey with you and your readers!

A bit about me – I am also a trainee in the practical counselling psychology doctorate. My training is in a different from M’s institution, which I guess allows us to compare and perhaps get a better impression of the commonalities and differences between the available routes of becoming a CP in the UK and Scotland (where i`m based).

Wishing best of luck and inspiration to all,



The start of a new ‘year’ and some survival tips

September for most people signify a new chapter in their life. Going into university or starting a new year after the summer break. For me, I don’t form my resolutions on New Year, it has always been before the start of an academic year; what I plan to achieve, who I plan to impress, how much weight I plan to lose (:P), where I plan to be by next September etc. This year is no different.

I am finally entering the beginning of the last stage of my long education haul. It is enormously exciting and perplexing. This is it. Studying and working professionally in what I have strived for all these years. I know a few friends too who are entering their qualifying professional degrees this year as well and we share together a sense of having persisted with our dreams and achieved it. This is especially true with one friend of mine whom I went to university with, we have always talked about what kind of work experience we should get, if it’s even worth it, or how long it’ll take us if we even get there. Nostalgia.

On a lighter note, here are some survival tips! It’s for anyone who would be embarking on a new academic year. (extract from ‘When you’re the new kid in school’ : http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/when-you%e2%80%99re-the-new-kid-in-school/)

  • Remember that the new place will give you a new chance.For at least the first day, you’re exotic. Especially in a school where there isn’t much coming and going, you’re someone special. Yes, it’s true you left what is familiar. But the new place is also a new opportunity. Nobody knows who you are, who you hung out with, or what to expect from you. If you didn’t quite like who you are or the reputation you had, you have a chance to start over. If you did like it, you can take that confidence with you and make a big splash.
  • Get oriented. If at all possible, visit the school before school starts. It’s hard enough to start over without also getting lost all the time. Ask your folks to arrange a tour. Figure out where the principal’s office is and how to get to the library. Ask for a map of the layout of the school. No time for this? Well, asking for directions is one way to begin to get to know people.
  • Do a little research. Get on the Internet and find out about the school. There’s probably a website. If there isn’t one for the school, look for the town’s site. You can find out about sports teams and events. You can learn what clubs are active and how the teams are doing. You can even check out what is usually served for lunch.
  • Take the time to assess. When you’re lonely, it’s tempting to grab onto whoever grabs you. But you want to take the time to look things over and figure out who’s who. As you know, as soon as you start hanging with a particular group, it will be hard to change your mind.
  • Dress for the group you want to join. For most teens, clothes are code for who you are. Wear a clean, neat, but kind of neutral outfit the first day. Get up in time to shower and do your hair. Jeans are generally fine as long as they’re clean and not flashy. Presenting yourself neutrally the first few days gives you time to figure out the informal rules for dress among the students. Once you’ve got it down, you can dress to fit in with the group you want to accept you.
  • Avoid cafeteria stress the first day. Pack a lunch so you don’t have to stand in line wondering whether to accept someone’s invitation to join their table or, worse, to have to walk the long mile in front of everyone to an empty table. Confidently sit on the edge and watch for a few days. Sit in a way that broadcasts confidence. You’re not a reject. You’re taking the time to think about who you’ll choose to be with.
  • Introduce yourself to teachers. First impressions do matter and you want to make a good one. Try to get to classes a bit early or to stay a few minutes after class to introduce yourself and to tell them where you’re from. A few minutes of politeness will get things off on the right foot.
  • Join something. A fast way to get to know some people is to join a team, a club, the band, a service organization, or student activities. People who share the same interests are likely your kind of people. Even if you don’t make real friends at first, you’ll learn some people’s names and you’ll have a few people to say hi to in the halls.
  • Take charge. Once you’ve got an idea who you want to meet, it’s up to you. Take a deep breath, pull up your big boy or big girl pants and start introducing yourself. Set a goal of meeting at least one new person a day. Say hello to the person who sits next to you in English class. Strike up a conversation with the person who has the locker next to yours. Remember – people like to talk about themselves. Think of a couple of questions you can ask each person and the conversation will take off almost by itself.
  • Keep but don’t retreat to old friends. Skype and Facebook and Twitter and texting and email and even the phone can let you stay in touch with old friends. That’s all good. But it can also be quicksand. If you let yourself spend hours and hours communicating with old friends, you’ll make it less likely that you’ll find new ones. By staying so connected to people who live hours away, you might keep yourself lonely in your own backyard

Full reference: Hartwell-Walker, M. (2011). When You’re the New Kid in School. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 5, 2011, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/when-you%e2%80%99re-the-new-kid-in-school/

The South- England

After a very long drive and much uncertainty about whether I actually have a place to stay in (letting agents issues again), I have finally moved in! The house is quaint and the neighbours are very nice and friendly, well except one. There always have to be one, just to make life more interesting. I promise if I ever have a bad day at work, I won’t take it out on someone else. Or at least, I won’t morph into an angry person, my personality calls for a more apathetic response (which might actually provoke more anger in the other person, hmm).

F is not exactly a stark contrast to where I come from in Scot. If I have to pick one, I would say the main difference is the taste of the water. Erk. Tastes kinda chalky, definitely needa get used to it. Other than that, all is well. Although I do miss the rowdy pubs near my ex-flat on Friday and Saturday nights. Here, it’s bedtime by 10pm every night. So quiet you can hear- nothing.


Alright, just in case you think I’m all work and no play -which makes a dull M. I was out last night.

Ok, in typing the last sentence it felt like I had to prove myself- that I’m not going to be an unkempt, jargon-laden, irritable, eccentric academic. Because honestly, at times it had felt that way. So, I was out for dinner last night with a few friends of mine. Good company, absolutely great food. Shame my partner had to slave over his work. It’s just never ending work for him. No such as thing as ‘It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta get down on Friday, Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend. Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) Fun, fun, fun, fun, Lookin’ forward to the weekend’. OK, might have gotten slightly carried away there. But, in case you’re wondering, yes it’s the infamous Rebecca Black’s song ‘Friday’. I have never ever thought that of all the songs in the world, that is one I would quote first in my blog. Strange how the world works sometimes. And so, after a night of fun fun fun for me…

——-I’m back to the reality———– Paper strewn desk. Coffee mug. And a mounting anxiety.

The anxiety being, I just realised (as always), I seem to have so much to do! Go to my part time job tonight and tomorrow night. Down to London on Monday for a placement interview (urps). Part time work again on Tuesday night and then the DEADLINE!

I only have now (which is expiring in 10 minutes), tomorrow afternoon, monday night and tuesday afternoon. That’s all I have! That’s all I have! Can I finish? Can I? Can I? ..urghhhh.. gurrgghhh.. Can’t breath! Why did I have to go out last night? Why? Urgghhh.. the guilt. Alright, focus. Let me trouble-shoot. What can I do to make use of the time I’ve left? I know you guys are probably thinking I’m stupid or something. I know. The answer is plain for all to see. The 334 words typed up to this point could have been in my dissertation. If that is the case, I shall calm down and….. realise I don’t have anymore time to do my dissertation today and needa prepare for work. What a joke I am. Till then.



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