I spent an extraordinary three years at the Caravan. This placement lives on in memory – and folklore – long after other aspects of the training have begun to dim.
Why? Well, it was certainly a baptism by fire, particularly as the whole business of therapy was completely new to me. But it was the extraordinary range of visitors that made it so special, memorable and much discussed. Even though it rapidly became apparent that many regular visitors were not seriously seeking therapy, this did not detract at all from the deep-end learning.
One ‘professional client’ remains at the forefront of my mind throughout my time at the ‘Van. He was as entertaining as he was melancholic, with wonderful artistic skills. It was apparent at one point that he was ‘seeing’ almost every Caravan volunteer. But there were many other notables over those years, from those living on the street to everyday people, from schizophrenics to musicians.
It was, and remains, one of the most profound experiences of my life, and such a privilege. I learned so much, so quickly – especially about myself.
However, the most wonderful aspect of the Caravan was the supervision, carried out at that time (back in 1995) by the late John Fentiman. I looked forward to these sessions with such eagerness. Again, why? This man was unique in my experience and brought so many skills to bear. He was able to ‘give permission’ to us to open up completely, to overturn conditioned responses, to illuminate the much deeper processes taking place – and all in such a spontaneous, light, insightful way. He also taught me what love is, and for that l can never thank him enough.
Leaving there was extremely sad for me. So, some time later, when l was asked to help maintain electrical and other aspects of the ‘Van’s welfare, l was thrilled. Reconnection! (no pun intended – or is there . . .? )
With grateful thanks,