This is a very different post to what I would usually share on my blog, but I thought my blog is a great platform to increase awareness regarding aspects of mental health and the avenues of help and support that are available to you.
I think that counselling has less of a stigma attached to it than say 10 years ago. But there is still so much to work on in the mental health sector. So when I was approached by my friend Emma about a collaboration, I thought it would be a great idea to raise awareness and shed some light and learn more about counselling. I took to Twitter to ask for questions about what you would like to know and I put those questions to Emma.
Before we delve into the questions I am going to share a little bit about Emma. She is very passionate about diversity and languages.. She has a Level 2 qualification in British Sign Language. Emma’s heritage is from Ireland and some all the way in Russia! Her favourite colour is green and her favourite season is Autumn. Autumn for her means hot chocolates and warm comfort foods especially apple crumble!
How long have you been a counsellor?
I qualified as a Person Centred Counsellor in Summer 2018 and set up my private practice in early 2019.
How long did it take for you to become qualified?
As I studied part time whilst working and took a break in between, it took me 6 years to qualify. There are lots of different routes you can take, there are intensive courses that last a few years and you can also study part time. Your local adult website should have useful information about this swell as private providers of courses.
What made you want to become a counsellor?
I wanted to become a counsellor because I find it highly rewarding to see people make changes in their lives and find it a privilege to be on someone’s journey with them. I have also experienced anxiety and know others in my life that have and want to break the stigma about mental health. It’s okay not to be okay and it is okay to reach out for support.
What is your area of expertise?
I qualified in Person Centred Counselling, so I do not have a particular field of expertise. However, my regular client work has been linked to anxiety, depression, self-esteem/identity, relationships, bereavement and the impacts of bullying.
Have you always wanted to be a counsellor?
For some time `i wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in terms of my career. My degree is in Film and I worked in television for some time but wanted to give something back to the community and empower others. I have worked in social care and recognised the massive impact mental health and identified I wanted to train in this further to develop myself but also to empower other people.
Is it true that if you want to become a counsellor you first have to receive counselling?
As part of my diploma requirements (the last 2 years) you had to have personal therapy as part of the diploma and evidence this. However, during the whole journey I had therapy at various points as the course brought up emotions and it was important for me to process them/reflect on them, to ensure I was fit to practice with clients.
Do you work regular Monday to Friday hours or some weekends?
At present I work evenings and some weekends depending on my schedule and availability.
What would you say to someone who wants help through counselling, but is too scared to reach out?
I would say that I am a counsellor and I work to a code of ethics and practice confidentiality. A counsellor is there to offer a safe and non-judgemental space for you to reach out and explore your feelings. There are some great websites that have resources and information on other people’s experience including MIND. It can be daunting to reach out, but it can assure you counsellors are there to support and work at your pace.
What is your favourite aspect of your job and what is one aspect you dislike?
My favourite aspect is working with clients and seeing clients be kinder to themselves and make changes in their lives. The theory I work to is people are experts in their own lives and have the power within to make change and have the power within to make change and often have the answers within themselves. An aspect I dislike, I would say would be around the stigma of mental health/counselling, however this is improving. Nearly every client I have worked with have felt they would be seen as “weak” by going to counselling. I wonder isn’t it a sign of strength/courage to explore oneself at a deeper level?
Do you offer online appointments such as; through Skype or just face-to-face appointments?
I offer appointments by telephone, Skype/Face-time and face-to-face as I feel it’s important for me to be as accessible as possible. For example, if someone is unable to get out of the house/has mobility difficulties I want to ensure they do not feel able to reach out and make contact with me.
What do you feel are the benefits from seeking counselling?
I feel the benefits from seeking counselling can be so individual to the person. For some it is about working on their self-worth or identity, for others it can be exploring a last trauma or reflecting on the past and how it may link to the present. It can bring more self-awareness, more kindness and compassion to the self and a sense of hope and peace. The counselling pathway/journey can be so varied to each person but as a counsellor we are there with you every step of the way, whatever direction it takes.
I enjoyed collaborating with Emma and bringing you a different perspective on counselling and mental health. Thank you Emma for taking the time to answer these questions put to you.