A blog for anyone thinking about maybe starting, maybe studying, maybe training …

It’s such a strange word, qualified. There’s a certainty to it, an approval, a granting of an entry ticket. There is an inevitable outsourcing of permissioning, which is very complicated for those of us (so many of us) who struggle or have struggled with self-worth, over-valuing the approval of others and under-valuing our own.

I started to dream a new path in 2017, grew it more in 2018, began training in 2019 and I have become qualified in two things. One is teaching yoga, the other is therapisting. I continue to train in both. I expect to always continue to train in both. For me, being-qualified is nothing like an end and far more like another beginning, an ‘and-then’.

And yet, it does feel different. It feels like a Thing. Perhaps because I’ve never had a ‘ticket’ before. I’ve had no qualifications for any of my other work. I didn’t go to drama school and yet I have been a performer, director, deviser, improviser, theatre writer for decades. I’ve never done any creative writing courses and yet I have seventeen novels published, over seventy short stories in various anthologies and my own collection, and fourteen plays made, seen, shared. I mentor artists and makers, I’ve taught writing for decades. All of it qualification-free.

So now I have two, both with more to learn and grow. Of course there are therapists and yoga teachers who are utterly brilliant and have the bare minimum of qualifications, if any. There are also some who are hugely qualified and yet should probably never work with other human beings, however many degrees and approved hours they accumulate.

I know the qualifications are really only for me. In both areas (and with a long term dream of bringing therapy and yoga and creative work together) I set out to find a training and teachers that made sense to me. My doctorate training is in existential psychotherapy and I agonised long and hard over where I would train, finally choosing somewhere that felt closest to my personal views and values. The doctorate itself is something I’d never dreamed I might attempt, way outside my upbringing’s imagining (first in my family to go to university) and for most of my life (and all of my youth) far beyond my financial capability, but here I am at 59, over halfway through the four-year psychotherapy training, beginning my doctoral research into the embodied experience of postmenopause. Doing it.

I’m not re-training in my late fifties, I’m training for the first time. I’ve found all of it both scary and brilliant. I’ve been the oldest or nearly the oldest in every group and that’s turned out to be fine. I don’t have thirty or forty years to find the lovely things I might make in the space between therapy and yoga and creativity, but whatever time I do have, I’m excited to find out.

Whether your next Thing needs a qualification, a piece of paper, a hoop to jump through or not, yes it probably is scary, yes it may well be hard and yes, if you are called to it … maybe take your first step. There are no certainties, there never are, ongoing wars and the pandemic have reminded us forcefully of that. None of us can know if the next step is ‘correct’. Sometimes it’s right just to follow the siren song. Sometimes it’s right to be the siren song.