What made you decide to train to counsel others?
I worked as a counsellor at Lighthouse Woman’s Aid (an agency working with women survivors of domestic violence). Iceni (an agency that deals with all types of addictions such as Gambling, Smoking, Drinking, Violence,) and before that I was a Samaritan which is a 24-hour telephone-based help line.
So I trained to acquire the professional tools to help people. Allowing them to lead, at their own speed, we find a way that stops fear, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, worry, addiction, anger, and many other concerns. I believe I have helped each and every client that I have worked with through a difficult and sometimes daunting period of their life.
Before training in counselling what areas of experience do you have?
I was writing for children in a Parenting magazine, running a restaurant, etc, working with young people at college, their pastoral care. Football team you set up. Before training as a counsellor I lived in Blackheath then Greenwich and finally moved to Spain. We bought some land and had a house built which was exciting. After several years abroad where we opened a small restaurant we decided to return to England so that the children would have the opportunity to go to college or university. I taught at a college in Colchester and introduced a tutorial programme into the student’s timetable which gave them the opportunity to discuss progress problems and aspirations. It was because of this that I realised I would like to train as a counsellor and make this my career.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a counsellor?
Empathy, Non-judgemental, Caring, Realist, Confidentiality.
What is your experience with young people?
As a lecturer I set up tutorial sessions (where none had existed) and found students valued these as it gave them the opportunity to talk about personal and family concerns that they couldn’t address with ‘mates’, or staff that taught them.
The young are resilient, they can be supported and counselled to overcome the challenges they face. But issues -unattended in youth – can grow to haunt them in later life.
I have learned much from the courage and determination of my young clients.
What is your experience with families?
The work with families can be quite heated but with ‘rules’ on turn-taking and so on, they can be most valuable if everyone in the family participates.
I have received some very positive feedback along the lines of ‘We wouldn’t be together still’ …
My own immediate family has experience of divorce, depression, disease, mental and emotional problems. All have informed my understanding and enabled me to become understanding with my clients.
Do you have family yourself?
I have 3 children two daughters and a son. I am also extremely lucky and have two grandchildren. My granddaughter is learning to drive and my grandson is travelling having just gained his Masters.
Do you have experience of counselling couples?
I have counselled a few couples but that evolved from seeing one of the partners who then agreed to ask their ‘other half’ to join the sessions. It was a very successful and worked well as they as still together and working on their relationship.
‘Despite our reluctance to come,” one couple shared with me, “we are now working together rather than pulling in different directions’
Have you counselled people with work burn-out?
I have worked with many lecturers and teachers who have felt overwhelmed with the amount of preparation and paperwork there is in today’s colleges and schools. And this feeling of being overwhelmed by expectations is a common experience in many work environments. This often causes friction within the working relationship to the point of “inability to cope and being off sick’’.
Coming to counselling has helped to put work into perspective, allow the person to reassess and reconsider the balance of work and home in their lives – and in more than one relationship ‘saved the marriage’.
Can you help someone with depression?
As a child having a parent with manic depression, as we used to call bipolar disorder, I believe I have a very deep understanding of this wicked and cruel disease. I have worked with clients and been fortunate enough to help them through their darker moments and finally ‘see the light at the end of the tunnel’.
What do love most about your work?
The opportunity to help others, listening and discussing the way forward. Unravelling issues, finding a solution together with them. Using my own experiences to inform my work.