Reflecting on reaching 1000 client hours!
Hi everyone, welcome back to my blogs! It's been a while since I've written my last one so wanted to share some of my recent news that a few weeks ago I reached 1000 client hours! This doesn't include all of the mental health assessments I've conducted, just counselling hours.
I really wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on a quiet Saturday afternoon about reaching this milestone, because it really does feel like one. Back in my training to be a counsellor the aim before we were able to qualify was to reach 100 hours before the academic year was up. This doesn't sound too bad on reflection, but I was at university one day a week and working the rest in order to afford to be able to live and study. I chose to go to placement on one of my days off on a Wednesday and would travel about 50 minutes to an hour for my placement at the mental health charity Mind. Often clients wouldn't always turn up, meaning some days when I was expected to get 3 hours ticked off I often got only 1, some days even 0, driving home feeling pretty dejected. I found this frustrating and difficult and managed these feelings with the support of my supervisor. To manage this lack of consistent hours and the increasing pressure to reach my 100 hours on time, I took on a second placement just down the road at a secondary school. I would get to the school early in the morning, set up all my things in my little counselling room I was given and work with school pupils. I loved the variety, challenge, new people I was meeting and difficulties I was hearing. I would then head off onto my placement at Mind.
My time in placement was the biggest leap out of my comfort zone I have ever had. It was my first time meeting heads of counselling organisations or school welfare, arranging my own sessions and managing my own diary but of course mainly I was faced with the task of offering helpful, insightful counselling when I really was such a beginner. At that stage I had only ever practised with my course mates as part of short exercises on a day at university, I had never been faced with the reality of a real client in a real session before. I remember because my managers at the placements were both not counsellors I felt very much like I had to make any difficult decisions there and then on my own. Of course I had my supervisor to ring but I couldn't guarantee she would be available every time I needed her. I truly believe this major jump into the deep end massively boosted my confidence and ability to manage stressful counselling situations and grow as a person. I'm really grateful for these experiences and for the people who looked after me and helped arrange my placement for me, big big thank you to them.
Following placement I later graduated with over 100 hours. Because I had 2 placements I managed to get my 100 hours done in plenty of time which meant I could take the summer off to travel before getting a job at Newcastle University and later starting my own private practice in September 2020.
Reflecting back I'm so proud of myself for all the hard work I put in, the travel time, the sacrifices, the commitment to learn more and to grow as a counsellor and that I managed to do all this alongside the normal and also unexpected challenges of life.
I want to thank my old boss who supported me to go to my placements and my university course around my job and who gave me time off around deadlines, she became such a Mother figure to me and we still keep in touch today. I want to thank my two placement co-ordinators for the opportunities given to me in training and of course my supervisor at the time, as well as my University lecturers whose insight and belief in me continued to push me towards my goals. I want to thank my current job in giving me the opportunity to start my first paid professional counselling job. As someone newly qualified there is always such a worry about finding that first piece of paid work but I was very lucky I was able to find work quickly and that I was given this chance. Thank you to my lovely colleagues and training buddies as well as all my loved ones who have helped me set up my own private practice and supported me on my counselling journey.
But mainly thank you to each and every one of my clients and the hours they entrusted me in their counselling journey. It's not always been easy, it's been challenging but it has been so humbling and rewarding to be with each of them when they shared with me a window into their private thoughts and feelings, often for the first time in their lives. Thank you for trusting me as your counsellor and allow me to do a job which I get so much from! I truly truly mean it when I say how grateful I am for every one of them.
I wonder where the next 1000 hours will take me?
Look after yourself today,