"My placement was life changing and led to me working with children."
During her placement, Cecilia saw the life-changing impact of working therapeutically with children.
"During the last year of my adult clinical training, I took up a counselling placement with Place2Be. My plan was to do this placement for a year to gain some experience working with children and young people – and to also take advantage of the amazing training I had been told about by other students on my course.
"As I neared the end of my clinical training I realised not only how much my placement with Place2Be had impacted on my adult practice, but also how powerfully connected I felt to the organisation whose mission seemed so aligned with my values.
"One of the very first children who I worked with on my placement had a profound impact on my training. Sarah*, who was 10 years old when she was referred to me, was in foster care after having experienced neglect due to addiction problems within her family.
"Building a therapeutic relationship with a child who was terrified of trusting another adult required a lot of patience, perseverance and empathy. It meant working through powerful defences as I was rejected and pushed away.
"As our relationship developed, Sarah began to feel secure in our sessions, and over time, she started to tentatively explore her experience through play.
"Week after week we would work side by side and make snails with clay. Snails, I was told, are very clever animals. They might be slow, but they carry their homes on their backs. And through this metaphor, Sarah was able to share her story.
"We talked about how important it was for her snails to be self-sufficient. Gradually we uncovered and worked through the anxiety and fear of abandonment which led them to push other creatures away.
"As our sessions came to an end, we had done a lot of thinking about how we would remember each other. After much thought, Sarah decided to make me a sparkly clay cherry pie - 'the very best cherry pie you have ever had', she exclaimed. The kind of pie which, 17 years on, still reminds me of her.
"The impact of our work on Sarah's emotional wellbeing was profound. She was more settled in school. Her relationship with peers improved. And her defiance subsided as she allowed herself to ask for help.
"The impact of this work on me as a trainee Counsellor on Placement was also life changing. Soon after qualifying, I was offered a permanent role as a School Project Manager.
"Over the years I've continued to grow within the organisation - and I now work as a Regional Clinical Lead. I feel hugely privileged to be able to play a role in supporting the mental health of the school communities we serve."
*Names in case studies may be changed to protect the identities of families and children.
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