Counselling interviews

Firstly, I want to say sorry for not posting for so many weeks in a row! I’ve had a lot of family stuff going on (my dad is fairly ill right now, but we aren’t sure what with and it is hard and I don’t have much head space left. However, it seems to me that (much like counselling DNAs) the more weeks I don’t blog, the more weeks it will be HARDER to blog, and so I thought I’d make a start on it now, with this 🙂

Creating my own placement has been a lot of fun, and I have certainly done enough hours through it to qualify at a level four (had I wanted to) so it is in no way a waste of time. However, I’m not so good at marketing and despite the additional exposure I’ve created, it hasn’t translated to actual client hours (aside from one glorious month when I had seven clients in six slots – two fortnightly – but then most of them stopped coming). So, when placements at my local rape and sexual abuse centre were advertised I pretty much bit their hands off. Because I created my own placement, I never had to go through an interview. Now that I have, I can write about it!

In case you’re wondering – I got the job. So this is presumably what a good interview looks like (and also – I’m carrying on with my placement one day a week, and the RASAC one day a week).

I wasn’t sure what prep to do – I did the usual checking out of the website, but couldn’t do much more really.

The interview itself consisted of two counsellors, one of which would be my supervisor (and co-ordinates the service). They asked me various questions about why I wanted to work with rape and sexual abuse (it was actually the first place I looked at, but they didn’t have a volunteer counselling system in place then and I have a long-standing interest in abuse and dissociation so this is ideal for me).

They asked me about my approach, and I checked out how much I could stick to it (luckily for me, lots of their counsellors are person-centred and they are fine with it. The big questions were about what could I identify as a strength and a weakness and my personal strength has the flipside of being my weakness. I always find it hard to talk about my weakness in a job interview – it seems disingenuous (more so if I said ‘oh I can’t think of one’!) but I was able to talk around it and how I was changing it. They asked about the breaking of confidentiality and how I would feel about issues of disclosure, and I was ok with that – I don’t think it would ever be fun, but I do make it clear to people when they come for counselling that there are specific incidents when I have to ‘tell’. Another hard question was ‘give an example of how you have used your supervision with regard to theory to help you’ and I couldn’t think of anything off the top of my head – I mean I could think of plenty of ways Fred had helped me (less so the new supervisor), but nothing that translated directly into/out of theory. Then I realised that there had been a ‘big’ ethical incident (something that a client had brought that I had needed to take his advice on) that would qualify, so I was able to talk about bits of that. And the final big question they asked me was on my thoughts on suicide. I responded that my own thoughts on suicide aside, I would always respond as per the placement guidelines. That as a person-centred counsellor I don’t feel that I have more say in someone’s life than they do, but I would always be willing to adhere to a counselling centre’s guidelines, and if I chose to go in to private practice, I might have different personal guidelines, but that for me, adhering to those wasn’t an issue (and in some ways is probably a relief – I don’t have to worry as much if I have to adhere to guidelines about ‘if you say you are going to seriously harm yourself, I must tell a supervisor’ than if my personal ethics say ‘I have no right over your life’. Either way I will worry, but in guideline one, my supervisor will be told straight away and correct procedure followed. In guideline two, it would be much more fuzzy). They also asked me about my thoughts on equality and diversity, and I was able to speak from personal experience about a few points, and use that to illustrate my thoughts on a few others.

So, in short, it was a lovely interview. If you’re coming up for an interview, the points above are something you might want to consider (I recognise they won’t all be the same!) and if you haven’t yet started with your counselling hours, then you can generalise to triad work, and to places your TUTOR has given you feedback. If you’re applying somewhere that doesn’t offer supervision, you may want to think about getting a supervisor – they can help you with an interview.

I start at the RASAC in January. I can’t wait!

What have others’ interviews been like? I’d love to know what some different ones look like!