Blog Dec 2017

4 questions about child counselling: Jacqui’s volunteer story

21/12/2017

When she became a parent of a child with special needs, Jacqui decided to retrain as a counsellor so that she could offer families the same support that she and her daughter needed. After seven years, we ask her to share a little of her experiences. 

1. When did you start thinking about becoming a child counsellor?

I used to work in IT and production management, and my role involved listening to people, and supporting them through stressful changes, so I always had the inclination to listen.

My life changed when I became a parent of a child with special needs. My daughter was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, Tourette's and ADHD, which made it difficult to stay in full time work. 

Going through my own counselling at that time, I found that many counsellors didn't understand what it was like to have a child with special needs. I spent a lot of time trying to explain and they just didn’t get it.

That's when I thought about training to be a counsellor myself, to support other parents in my position.  

When it came to finding my first placement, my tutor told me about volunteering for Place2Be and the more I heard, the more I thought it could be good. At first I was anxious about not having worked with children before, but I decided to give it a go. I was very lucky to have a supervisor who was amazing and really encouraged me. 

  
2. What makes you continue volunteering for Place2Be? 

You can see what a difference Place2Be makes for the children and how far they've come – I get a lot back from the work and find it incredibly satisfying.

Also, it has enabled me to work with children in a safe and contained way. On a practical level, having the clinical work and supervision nicely packaged into one day really worked for me too.

Volunteering with Place2Be has also informed my work with adults. I have brought more art and creative materials into my private practice room. Most people expect counselling to be all about talking, but I have found working with creative materials can help even the most guarded adults begin to explore their feelings in a different way.  

 

3. What types of issues have you supported children and young people with? 

I've worked with children who have special needs, children with issues around their parents' divorce or dealing with new blended families, quite young children whose parents have drug and alcohol issues, children who have experienced abuse and many more challenges.

In every case it's important to empathise and let the child know that someone understands that things are really hard for them. We also often help them learn how to recognise and express their emotions. 

One child I worked with was a confident, popular and talented athlete who seemed to have it all, but when his parents divorced he struggled to come to terms with it and didn't know how to express his feelings of anger and unhappiness. Months later, his mother came to school to tell me that after his sessions with Place2Be he was really able to get on with his life. 

 

4. What’s the most rewarding thing about volunteering with Place2Be?

Knowing that the interventions that we are putting in place are happening at the same time as that child is dealing with issues that may shape their future life. So, by getting in early and giving them support some of these kids may know how to cope with future challenges, which could minimise the need for counselling later in life. 


Interested in volunteering for Place2Be? Find out more about our school-based clinical placements.

This blog was written in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the view of the organisation.

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