Many people often ask me about my stand, my passion in life and how I got into Counselling Psychology, and why the establishment and writing in their favourite publication, The Counsel-ling Magazine. Colleagues and students, participants in various seminars, and others suggested that I include some information that would assist clients, practitioners, and students perhaps establish a career or even assess and evaluate their ethical, moral and professional standards. This allows for personal reflection, and I feel it wise to include a few remarks about my fervour on counselling, mentoring and education, and various aspects of life.
Early life, a Christian and a Counselling Psychologist
I must first state that as a person, I am first and foremost a Christian, but as a professional, I am a Counselling Psychologist. Let me clarify this stand. I must confess with a deep conviction that I do not just believe in God; I know there is a God. This is important for those I interact with as a counselling psychologist, and they include clients, students, colleagues in the profession and other persons in diverse fields, including teachers, parents, researchers, participants in seminars or people to whom I talk to as a motivational speaker.
I was born and brought up in Kenya. I schooled in the village at Githiga Primary School (Kiambu, Kenya), then Kagumo High School (Nyeri, Kenya) before I joined Kenyatta University (Nairobi, Kenya) and the University of Birmingham (Birmingham, United Kingdom). Indeed, I am proud of the knowledge gained in numerous ways. For instance, I was highly privileged to work in the Ministry of Education (Nairobi, Kenya) at the Headquarters, where I gained immense knowledge, skills, and experience. Now, I am proud to be a Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology at the University of Nairobi (Nairobi, Kenya). The Counsel-ling Magazine is in line with my professional growth and development.
Appreciating others and being virtuous, a little sunshine every day.
My education and training including my interaction with people of a different faith (religion), gender, political and cultural orientation, ethnic or racial background, colour, position, education status, variety of careers and life occupations, as well as all other aspects of our lives have made me learn to appreciate people deeply and accept others, their opinion, ideas and values and convictions. The Ministry of Education is a large community consisting of pupils and students, teachers, parents, various stakeholders, government departments and community members with several institutions that include primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities. Education and schools have numerous activities and programmes, and hence I gained immense experience. Similarly, the University of Nairobi is a highly esteemed academic institution that engages in teaching and research to enhance the communities’ capacity for developments.
I have embraced certain core principles, especially integrity though my virtues, professionalism and morals remain intact. I keep growing older, worldlier and hopefully ever wiser. I am a father and a husband as well. I have personal and social responsibilities and increasingly higher expectations.
Counselling, the helping profession
It is essential to know that our growth and development are constructed through human interaction, communication, and contact as human beings. This enables us to organise our inner selves, our world, including our beliefs, ideas, personality, and career. Nonetheless, life has its highs and lows; it has its great moments as well as uncertainties and fears. As a result, we make merry and get happy, we find love and are bound heart and soul, while at other times we are heartbroken, we suffer pain and anguish, we thirst, we are filled just as we face hardship and disappointment; we are sometimes bruised, but also, we are blessed and must strive to be happy. We must not be cynical about the events of this world or treat certain events as an enigma. Suffering occurs when we love ourselves too much when we want other people to love us as much and in the same way that we imagine we want to be loved, not in the way we love. In my view, joy and happiness, suffering and tragedy happen as part of life but not as a punishment. But again, my opinion is that love should manifest itself, and respect must be earned, not by demand but naturally because we deserve it from our work and intentions. As human beings, we must be intrinsically motivated, and this will then be manifested in our actual living. Subsequently, The Counsel-ling Magazine aims to inspire people.
For me, Counselling Psychology is a profession that should be an opportunity for us to reflect on our standing concerning self and others to develop and live fulfilling lives. Throughout life, we are happy, we find contentment in various ways, but we also face particular challenges. Consequently, if counselling would enable people to cope more effectively with their lives and circumstances better, we should provide opportunities, clues and information to people to a more fulfilling life. That sustenance and psychosocial support, sometimes re-education, could include news, spiritual nourishment, financial and business acumen and moral esteem, and raise their self-concept, thus uplifting their lives. As a professional, I understand the contemporary world, contrasting opinions and current knowledge of people and human behaviour. These ideas and opinions are expressed in The Counsel-ling Magazine. This is because I am convinced that as human beings, we must be inimitable.
Life is a pilgrimage through the world where we ultimately learn that our heart is at the service of God, others and self in that order. There are instances when we are lifted and humbled, and our pride gives way. The unexpected also does happen, and life can crumble, and we are not always prepared for everything in life. The disasters and momentous happy moments of life force us to reassess ourselves and always seek a purpose for ourselves and others. In all these, our past goes with us, but the more we free ourselves from pain and hurts in the form of facts and emotions, the more we realise that the present has space and vast space, waiting to be filled up with a future overflowing with more love and life’s joy. I still gladly mention that the self can develop to the total sense by taking in the community and social group as a member of a generalised order and the feelings and attitudes of others towards self. This, in essence, enhances overall growth and development and hence The Counsel-ling Magazine.
My life philosophy
My philosophical orientation is strongly influenced by the Christian philosophy and principles of humanness. I consciously draw techniques on person-centred therapy because the emphasis on the individual I am convinced can re-enact their lives in many ways, just as I respect and applaud the communal us-ness. Also, I highly value and derive many techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy. This is because we must learn to focus on how our thinking affects our feelings and actions and interact with others. Rationalisation is also an opportunity for self-reflection. A related conviction in me is that people should be provided with an opportunity and coupled with counsel; this is empowering.
I love seconds; they fly, I wouldn’t say I like minutes; the moment you turn, it is gone, I loathe hours; they appear to drag for an hour then you realise it is gone, days are awful; they go on to the end of the year, and it is all over as we welcome a new year, then more years and forever. I dread looking at a watch, so I don’t wear any! The great pretence is that you can always check the time on the phone, computer and hanging clocks! Indeed, there is a need for everyone to plough back what they learn in life. This includes setting realistic goals for our world. Therefore, I do not ignore past experiences, mainly when they overwhelmingly affect our emotions and behaviour. Subsequently, it is the acceptance that our past shapes our development and behaviour. Even as a counsellor, many aspects influence our lives, and I hasten to add and agree on faith. Sometimes faith will deliver; sometimes faith will sustain. Thus, I admire Sir Winston Churchill words:
Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.
Faith is therefore essential, and as counsellors, we ought to respect it as more studies are conducted in this and certain other aspects of our lives. We too must walk the audacious journey to our lives’ apex to power our ambitions but not by trending on others. We must be safeguarded by integrity, competence, education and (professional) training, experience and skills, but not ethnicity, racism, biased gender inclination or affiliations or biased political innuendos. Instead, counsellors and other social workers must deal with the client holistically. Let us, therefore, set an example and then turn to others, their situation or circumstances and assist them as competent practitioners so that they too can find their place in life and society. Understanding oneself, another, others, community, nation and the world is what it means to be a human being and a professional counsellor.
What else can I say …
It always comes as a surprise to many people who think I am so social that I am also quite reserved and private. I spend a lot of time alone reading and writing, exercising, listening to the radio and watching television. I hardly go out at night since I do not drink anyway. I love listening to music, watching movies and listening keenly to educative programmes. I am excited by comedies and cartoons, and I read and write for hours on end. The Counsel-ling Magazine has taken me to far greater heights than I would personally have imagined. My favourite columns in the Sunday Nation (Kenya) include Chris Hart on Relationships, and Yusuf Dawood, Surgeon’s Diary. I keep time, and I am punctual to the extent that some people consider me a bit of a nuisance. I am aware that I am sometimes too analytical but tactful. As a friend, I care, I am committed, and I place my friends and colleagues invaluable. I am excited that I’m meticulous and adhere to deadlines strictly. At the beginning and end of the day, I say a prayer to God. Even for me, I walk steadfastly with God till He takes me away.
Counselling, Professionalism Development and Intensity: Designed to provide valuable assistance
Finally, I am convinced that counselling psychology is a profession, and we as people can transform our lives and change the lives of many people in the world and in a variety of ways. Sir Winston Churchill said, ‘History will be kind to me for I intend to write it,’ and I certainly want to do that as well and be a part of History. This includes all the persons offering help such as parent guiding the child, the teacher and counsellor who steer the child in school (Individual Education Programmes, (IEPs)), the doctor and nurse with the patient who has a terminal illness, mentoring of new employees in an organisation, workplace counselling programmes that assist employees in various ways, the clergy and members of their congregation in pastoral counselling and care, social workers, lawyers, accountants and bankers and many other instances of service and helping. We must, of the essence, provide a safe space for our families, relatives, friends, colleagues and the entire community.
Counselling psychology and skills are applicable in business, economics, banking, travel, education, law, agriculture, customer care and public relations, safety and security, general research, art, community rehabilitation, and effective communication. This is why we have opened up The Counsel-ling Magazine to all so that people can contribute to the well-being of others. Counselling Psychology is effective in understanding one another in peace, conflict resolution, crisis and trauma management, and the way we manage our vast and intensive emotions a bit differently. However, Inclusion in counselling is total and caters to diverse populations’ needs and feelings, including the often secluded and specialised clients, to promote personal well-being, let the person be, and enable them to live a quality life and quantity living. In the end, we must drive up the mountain starlit with great enthusiasm.
I trust in God, I love humankind, and I am committed to our well-being; that is what it means to be humane.
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Dr Geoffrey Wango
The Counsel-ling Magazine