Why Counsellors attend the Essentially Men Weekend Workshop.
By Anne Bailey
Anne Bailey interviewed two male counsellors who have attended the Essentially Men weekend workshop:
Why did you go on the Essentially Men Course?
Nigel: I was working in stopping violence programmes and went to gain some more professional skills, to deepen my practise and engage more fully with my heart. Back in 1996, I did the first workshop for men working with men.
Aladdin: Planning a move to Auckland, I considered this a good way to connect with other men in the field. I wanted to be able to refer others to the Essentially Men programme from a basis of experience. I also wanted to do some personal development with other men.
What was your experience?
Nigel: Transformational. I was taken by surprise how much it connected with my deepest needs that I didn’t even know were there. There was a safe, gentle, nurturing environment that allowed me to drop layers of self protection and defences that I hadn’t realised existed. It also initiated me into a community of men who have become closer than my brothers and who have become a core foundation for my life.
Aladdin: It allowed me to explore and express my inner experience of being a man and to inquire into my relationships. It was moving to hear others’ experiences and recognise our common ground. I was having very REAL connection with other men. I was touched by being in the company of men.
Why would you recommend it to other men?
Nigel: The most significant contribution is that men see how they are not alone in their fears and struggles. When they sit together and hear how their stories are echoed by others’ stories, it promotes a sigh of relief. You can’t get that from a one to one experience or from an anti-violence programme. It normalises a man’s experience and bursts through the shackles which imprisons him in isolation and shame. There is strength which emerges as men speak of their struggles and recognise they are ok in their difficulties. In the context of a safe container, they experience healing and acceptance in the company of men with the same challenges, who look ok and successful.
Aladdin: The opportunity for support and care from men, and the inspiration and energy that emerges from that. Essentially Men is a well thought out programme in a very safe space. It gives a solid place to explore aspects of being a man. The varied approaches of emotional release, physical engagement and storytelling create a holistic programme. There is a strong presence from a large support group. Men are able to go through some areas of great change.
Anne Bailey is an international facilitator, educator and author. She is also the founder and director of Cooperacy.