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Dr. Geoffrey Wango

Many people often ask me about my personal stand, my passion in life and how I got into Counselling and why in particular The Counsellor Magazine. Colleagues and students, participants in various seminars and others suggested that I should include some information that would assist clients, practitioners and students to perhaps establish a career, or even assess and evaluate their ethical, moral and professional standards. Well, this allows for personal reflection and I feel it wise to include a few remarks about my fervour on counselling as well as 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 belief in God; I know there is a God. This is important for those I interact with as a counsellor 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, then Kagumo High School before I joined Kenyatta University and the University of Birmingham. Indeed, I am proud of the knowledge gained in numerous ways. For instance, I was highly privileged to work in the Ministry of Education (Kenya) at Headquarters where I gained immense knowledge, skills and experience and now I am proud to be a Senior Lecturer in counselling psychology at the University of Nairobi (Kenya). The Counsellor Magazine is in line with my professional growth and dvelopment.

Appreciating others and being virtuous

My education and training including my interaction with people of different religion, gender, political orientation, ethnic or racial background, colour, position, education status, variety of careers and life occupations as well as all other aspects of our life has made me learn to deeply appreciate people and accept others, their opinion, ideas and values and convictions. 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 with increasingly higher expectations.

Counselling, the helping profession

It is important to know that as human beings, 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 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, and not in the way that we love. In my own view, suffering and tragedy happen as part of life but not as a punishment. But again, my view is that love should manifest itself, and respect must be earned, not by demand but naturally because we deserve it from our own work and intentions. As human beings, we must be intrinsically motivated and this will then be manifested in our actual living. The Counsellor Magazine aims to inspire people.

For me, counselling psychology is a profession that should be an opportunity for us to reflect on our standing in relation to self and others, so that we can develop and live fulfilling lives. Throughout life, we are happy, we find contentment in various ways but we also face certain 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 in a bid to a more fulfilling life. That sustainance and/or psychosocial support, sometimes re-education could include information, spiritual nourishment, financial and business acumen and moral esteem, as well as raise their self-concept thus uplift their lives. As a professional I have an informed understanding of the contemporary world, contrasting opinions and current understanding of people and human behaviour. 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 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 as well as momentous happy moments of life force us to reassess ourselves, and to always seek a purpose for self and others. In all these, our past goes with us, but the more we free ourselves from pain and hurts in form of facts and emotions, the more we realize that the present has space and a 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 is able to develop to the fullest sense by taking in the community and / or social group as a member of a generalised order as well as the feelings and attitudes of others towards self. This in essence enhances overall growth and development and hence The Counsellor Magazine.

My life philosophy

My own philosophical orientation is strongly influenced by the Christian philosophy and principles of humanness. I consciously draw techniques on person centred therapy due to the emphasis on the individual whom I am convinced can re-enact their lives in many ways, just as I respect and applaud the communal us-ness. In addition, 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 just well interact with others. Rationalisation is also an opportunity for self-refelction. A related conviction in me is that people should be provided with an opportunity and coupled with counsel, this is empowering to people.

I love seconds; they fly, I hate minutes; the moment you turn, it is gone, I loathe hours; they appear to drag for an hour then you realize 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 more. I dread looking at a watch so I don’t wear any! Certainly, there is 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 especially when they overwhelming affect our emotions and behaviour. Subsequently, it is acceptance that our past shapes our development and behaviour. Even as a counsellor practitioner, there are many aspects that influence our lives, and I hasten to add and as well agree, also 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 important and as counsellors, we ought to respect it as more studies are conducted in this and certainly other aspects of our lives. In addition, we too must walk the audacious journey to the apex of our lives, to power our personal 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 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 own place in life and society. An understanding of self, another, others, community, nation and the world is what it means to be a human being and for the professional counsellor.

What else can I say ...

It always comes as a surprise to many people who think I am so social to know that I am also quite reserved and private. I actually 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 Counsellor Magazine has taken me to far greater heights than I would personally have imagined. My favourite columns in the Sunday Nation 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 as invaluable. I am excited that I’m meticulous and adhere to deadlines strictly. At the beginning and end of day, I say a prayer to God. Even for me, I walk steadfastly with God till He takes me away.

Counselling: Designed to provide valuable assistance

Finally, I am convinced that counselling psychology as a profession and we as people can transform our lives as well as change the lives of many people in the world and in a variety of ways. It was Sir Winston Churchill who said, ‘History will be kind to me for I intend to write it’, and I certainly want to do that as well. 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), the doctor and nurse with the patient who has a terminal illness, mentoring of new employees in an organisation, workplace counselling programmes that assists 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. Thus, 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 Counsellor Magazine to all so that people can make a contribution to the well-being of others. Counselling psychology is effective in our understanding of one another in peace, conflict resolution, crisis and trauma management as well as in the way we manage our emotions, a bit differently though. Inclusion in counselling is total and caters for the needs and feelings to promote personal well-being; let the person be, and enable them to live quality life and quantity living.

I love humankind and I am committed to our well-being, that is what it means to be humane.

Dr. Geoffrey Wango

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