How to train as a shadow work facilitator…
These are strange times for everyone. The established order seems to be changing, and uncertainty about the future abounds. In such times, many people need extra support, and sadly, for a lot of people that support may simply not be available from family and friends.
Perhaps as a reaction to this, I see a growing demand for professional support in the form of coaching, counselling and therapy. And to meet the growing demand for professionals in this field, there are many courses available for people who want to train in shadow work, counselling, coaching and so on. Unfortunately they vary in quality enormously.
It’s a sad fact that many conventional counselling courses simply do not equip people with the skills to practice efficiently and effectively, let alone develop their psychological resilience to the point where they can safely hold a client. And over my many years of experience in this field, I have seen how many qualified counsellors have not done enough personal work to examine and heal the deeper levels of their own shadow. (You can read about the human shadow and, what it means to do shadow work, here.)
And there’s a problem here. If a counsellor has not explored the depths of their own shadow, no matter what approach they adopt, no matter what training they have undertaken, they are unlikely to be able to take a client into the deeper parts of the client’s emotional world. More importantly, without doing their own reparative shadow work, they will not be able to hold the client safely as they explore whatever lies within.
During my many years’ work in this area, I’ve seen plenty of bad practice and poor training. I’ve also noted how few training courses teach the skills needed for their “qualified” coaches or counsellors to work with the profound wounds of the Inner Child.
Also, many courses don’t explicitly teach the skills to work with different parts of the clients’ personality, a skill which is essential to complete healing and integration of split and cut-off parts of the personality.
And another area where many conventional counselling courses, as opposed to shadow work training courses, are lacking, is in their approach to trauma. Almost every single one of us is traumatised.
That trauma is not necessarily the kind of trauma that manifests in war veterans as massive PTSD and flashbacks. Rather, it is in the complex PTSD that accumulates from the tens of thousands of pin-pricks of emotional wounding that we all experience as we grow up.
And for those children who experience more severe neglect and sexual, emotional or physical abuse, the splits in the personality can be more marked and more severe. How, then, can a counsellor not trained in the art of managing and resolving complex PTSD, work effectively with such a client?
The simple answer is that they cannot.
However, these are the daily problems and issues which clients bring to the therapy room, to coaches, and to counsellors, many of whom are ill-equipped to help them.
Shadow work facilitator training – a different approach
A properly qualified shadow work coach or facilitator has a different skill set to the average counsellor. And that means they can be far more effective in emotional healing work. They can be confident in accompanying their clients into their inner world, and finding the ways in which emotional growth and development can take place. When a client presents with a lot of trauma, they can safely hold the client in the depths of their trauma, and guide them into (and through) the grief and anger work which is necessary to lessen the burden of complex PTSD.
Yet even here there is an issue. Because shadow work is so powerful, it can generate classic therapeutic issues in the facilitator-client relationship. These issues include transference, counter-transference and all the personal dynamics which arise between practitioner and client in therapy.
Yet some shadow work courses pay no attention to training their students in how to deal with these dynamics. And this leaves both client and therapist alike in a place of difficulty when the interpersonal dynamics begin to develop and present themselves in the therapy room.
That, essentially, is why Marianne Hill and I have developed a shadow work training course for those who wish to become qualified shadow work facilitators and practitioners as well as those qualified counsellors who wish to deepen and expand their skill set so they can safely work with their clients’ deepest shadows. Our organisation is called Healing The Shadow, and our training course is now well-established. The next course starts in May 2022.
We believe that our training course is unique in this respect. In small groups, with constant practice of the skills required to be effective in exploring the shadow, we teach the techniques that are proven to work for people who want to achieve true emotional healing and profound personal growth.
But in addition, we also teach the fundamental theory and practice of any counselling relationship. From unconditional positive regard to heart centred leadership; from transference and counter-transference to the Drama Triangle; from idealisation to twinship and mirroring; from empathy to attunement; and much more besides, we equip the trainee shadow work facilitators on our course with a complete set of skills that will enable them to work with clients with real assurance and confidence. And, it hardly needs to be said, to work effectively with clients and get real results. This work is indeed transformative.
We also maintain an active community. We don’t just pay lip-service to the idea of a therapeutic community. Our qualified practitioners have regular ongoing meetings, trainings, and assessments. They abide by a code of ethics which guides them through the moral maze of working as a shadow work counsellor, or shadow work coach – whichever they description they prefer to use.
If any of this seems appealing to you, you can read all about the structure of the course, the syllabus, and all the other practical details you might need to know about before applying, on our training website. If you click here the link will take you to our Healing The Shadow Training.