It was befitting that on ‘Bloomsday’ as Irish Culture commemorates and honours the literary contributions and masterpieces of James Joyce that ICHAS students met with Prof. John C. Norcross to establish what it takes to ‘bloom’ or realise one’s potential in the field of Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Prof. Norcross has made substantial contributions to the field of Counselling and Psychotherapy across research, practice and publication domains and accordingly could be considered as a key contemporary figure in the growth, evolution and professionalisation of the field. Norcross and James Joyce are both ‘greats’ in their respective fields making significant contributions that others might ‘bloom’ or realise their potential.
Prof. Norcross kindly agreed to engage in an interview with ICHAS students to impart his wisdom and knowledge regarding the substance or essence of how aspirants in the field of Counselling and Psychotherapy can ‘bloom’ or realise their potential in the professional field. He agreed that this interview should be recorded and used for teaching purposes in ICHAS and accordingly a ‘pay it forward’ dimension enshrined the interview experience as himself and ICHAS implicitly agreed to realise and use this interview to its fullest potential.
Having read many of his contributions to the field, I felt privileged to interview him on the day. To come face to face with Prof. Norcross, exchange pleasantries and then interview him was undoubtedly a learning experience. He came off as unassuming and humble, whilst recognising that he carries much weight and influence in the field, he uses this deliberately, discerningly and respectfully. He indicated that when speaking to five people or five hundred people his approach is the same. He declines to become a victim to his own notoriety and as he responded to questions and continually referenced the centrality and pertinence of the actual client one can see and sense the genuine fondness and delicate respect he holds for all clients. The experience of working with clients is the dividend for him. The gift that keeps on giving, as in the absence of the client, there is no profession, there is no learning, there is no reason to write, there is no reason to research.
So perhaps the only learning is to remember the respectful centrality of the client within our profession, whilst possessing the desire to learn and grow, in the absence of client, we cannot ‘bloom’ or realise our own potential. If one can realise and honour the catalyst that is the client within our profession, then it may naturally follow that we will ‘bloom’. Commitment to the client facilitates the realisation of our own potential and the potential of the field of counselling and psychotherapy.
To the students of ICHAS who will have the opportunity to engage with the J.C. Norcross interview, it is noteworthy that he agreed to share and impart his knowledge and wisdom so that you might ‘bloom’ in your therapeutic engagement with clients. Accordingly, this gift is bestowed with a dividend not only you but for your clients also. ICHAS and J.C. Norcross converged to realise potential in the spirit that as the client ‘pays it forward’ for you, we ‘pay it forward’ to our clients and thus all concerned might realise their full potential.
Blog By Michelle Stone (ICHAS Graduate 2016)
Featured in photograph from Left to Right: Prof. J. C. Norcross, Cara Gibbons (M.A Student), Michelle Stone (Graduate 2016) & John Fitzpatrick (BA Student)