Friday, 7 October 2016

Being a volunteer Counsellor at Footsteps

Humbled. Powerful. Courageous

These are just three of many feelings that I experience while counselling at Footsteps. Counselling is all about the feelings we experience and many of them can be terribly difficult to experience especially if we've lost a child or are having difficulty in conceiving. As soon as you start trying to conceive a baby you imagine your life with a child in it, holding your newborn baby and that gorgeous baby smell, having your own family, what you can buy for them and even the sleepless nights! When the possibility of that is taken away it is heart-breaking and, like anything, now that it has been taken away we want it all the more. We also want to be able to protect our children and even if they have died being able to cherish them in honouring their memory and bringing them into our daily family life is very important. This can be extremely difficult when others struggle to support us in this however a child is still part of a family even if they are not alive.I, like all of my counselling colleagues, have experienced difficulties when having a baby and it has been the hardest thing I have had to experience. The feelings of despair, helplessness and failure have been overwhelming and it has made me aware of how little control I do actually have. However, this experience is my own and although it was a baby related issue it still belongs to me as does my client’s experiences belong to them. I have felt pain which all of my clients have felt and no matter what the experience I feel I am able to offer true empathy because of the feelings we share and not necessarily the experiences.Most of the counsellors at Footsteps volunteer a day from their week to provide counselling. We are a team of six counsellors, some of us qualified and some of us still in training. We volunteer on different days so we only tend to see each other monthly at our group supervision. Here we are able to talk about how we are working with our clients and offer each other support for the work we are providing. We do occasionally treat ourselves to an afternoon tea or meal out as it is important for us to support each other in looking after ourselves so we are able to offer a good service to our clients.When I’m not at Footsteps I’m busy working and enjoying my family and friends. And so my day at Footsteps can often be a calm, insightful day giving me time for reflection that allows me to sit with my clients in their grief and offer a space for them to be with their baby or the baby they long for. This brings me back to the three words I began with as I am humbled by the courage and strength of my clients and the feelings they share are very powerful as they are real, raw emotions that deserve to be heard.

Footsteps Counselling Room
Just to finish my colleagues would like to share with you their experiences of counselling at Footsteps.

"I started counselling at Footsteps whilst training, nearly three years ago, and for me it has been a real privilege to support people at such a difficult, vulnerable time in their lives.  I'm always aware that my clients may be sharing stories, feelings and thoughts with me that they may never have shared with anyone else and that information is very precious.  I have experienced the feelings of sadness, hopelessness, fear and many others felt by my clients but also been humbled by their courage and bravery.  Like my colleagues I have a busy life outside Footsteps but my day a week volunteer counselling there is very important to me; not only because of my clients but also because of my pride at being part of such a great organisation and team." Rachel

 ‘Having been a bereavement volunteer for some years and worked with loss in many guises, there is a tangible difference to the losses that Footsteps clients exhibit. It's the terrible sadness of a lost future with someone whom one can nurture and guide and hold forever. The bravery and humility of the clients with whom I have been incredibly fortunate to work, can take my breath away.  Behind the sadness and fear and the coming to terms with poignant loses, is this fine silken thread of hope. It may be hidden or not quite discovered but it is there and it is awe-inspiring. How can I not feel humbled and inspired by the work we do at Footsteps? Long may it continue.’  Anne

 "My experiences as a counsellor at Footsteps have been an honour and a privilege.  As much as I hope to assist my clients in gaining a greater awareness and understanding of their true self, I too have increased my knowledge and self-awareness. In helping clients to reconnect with their inner strength and resources, I am consistently humbled by the human capacity for growth following trauma. Many of the presenting issues dealt with at Footsteps involve feelings of shame. I believe the antidote to shame is compassion, and I hope to express this within the therapeutic relationship I have with my clients."   Keira

 Thank you for reading…


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