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!