Again, I count myself lucky to have a good placement. They have never provided counselling as a service before, but they have been nothing but supportive.
We created a set of operational guidelines together, to make sure that their confidentiality clauses etc, matched mine, and they asked for some basic demographic information but the assessment itself they left entirely to me, which as a person-centred trainee, had been concerning me- I wanted an assessment process that ‘gelled’ with me, rather than having one imposed upon me.
I wrote a few versions of my assessment form- age, location, health issues, drugs? ‘Why come for therapy?’ But they all felt too clinical. In the end I took the demographic and contact details that I needed and then asked ‘are there any health conditions I might need to know about for health and safety?’ (Ie, epilepsy, etc), ‘what brings you here?’ And ‘do you have people in your life you can talk to?’
That last question written in conjunction with Fred- we wanted to be sure that I, with zero ‘real’ hours, and no assessment experience, would be able to accurately make an assessment, and it seems to me that I can take ‘deeper’ issues if the person has a good support network. It would concern me more if the client wanted to talk about distressing life events and had no-one in their lives, so a ‘safety mechanism’, if you like. Originally, Fred and I discussed seeing a client and then letting them know at a later date if I would take them, but ultimately agreed that it was better if I trusted my gut on this, rather than think it all over: I had a sneaking suspicion that my mind wouldn’t actually change for having a few days, but I did feel it might be distressing for a potential client to have to wait.
And I was ready to assess client one!
So my service was now up and running. What next?
I created flyers to put on noticeboards, and my charity sent out email drops, as well as advertising in-house and via Facebook.
I bought a cheap ‘pay as you go’ phone, and set up an email address and.. waited.
Luckily for me I didn’t have to wait long. Less than a week after starting the service I had 3 phone calls and 3 emails from separate people all enquiring about the service.
Some of them decided that the service was not for them, but some of them did, and they made appointments for the following week. Cue a hasty booking of a ‘before I start doing therapy’ session with my supervisor, who had already been very helpful with much in the way of practical and emotional support. I shall call my supervisor ‘Fred’ and shall make my supervisor male 🙂
Fred was able to sit down with me and calm those last-minute fears: ‘what if I’m not good enough?’ ‘What if they ask me how many clients I’ve seen and I have to say ‘oh- just you.. Maybe?” pointing out that in fact, although they might be my first ‘paying’ client, I have done many hours of ‘practice’ work so far and I am not going in ‘blind’, as it were.
I was lucky enough to get to set up my own placement with a charity I’ve long wanted to volunteer for.
It hasn’t been without tribulation. First, I needed to approach the charity and offer my services as a trainee. Luckily for me, they were pleased to be able to think about expanding into the counselling arena, although they were at first worried that I would ask to go full-time and they don’t have the room (quite literally) for that.
After we were agreed that this was a mutually beneficial idea, I had to complete various forms from my institution, convincing them that this would be a safe and fruitful idea. Once that was set in motion I then had to find an appropriately qualified supervisor who was willing to take on a trainee on her first placement, of her own making.
Thanks to some hard work on my part and possibly mysterious stars aligning, some five months after first approaching the charity I was finally able to start seeing clients.