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Volunteer Week – Hayley’s Story.

A day in the life of a childrens’ psychotherapeutic counsellor:

Hi, I’m Hayley and I’m a trainee Psychotherapeutic Counsellor for Children & Young People, training at Northern Guild and in my final year. For my last placement I have been volunteering with ARCH Teesside and I have been here since September 2022. I love my placement and have always been made to feel part of the team and so supported by the whole group.

When I first started, I was given all the training needed from Lisa and Kerri to understand sexual violence and support survivors, along with the training for pre-trial therapy as this is slightly different therapy. Anything I was unsure of I was able to ask and have clarified and never felt that my questions were silly or unwarranted. As you can image it was quite daunting seeing my first client. I was aware of the reason they had come to the service was to talk through the complex trauma they had experienced, whether it be rape, sexual assault or historic child abuse and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or cause more anxiety for the client. The counsellors at ARCH, helped me realise that sometimes all that is needed is a listening ear and let the child tell their story.

Initial Assessments were at first completed by more experienced counsellors, and I was given the information prior to the session so I was aware of what the counselling was for. I was again able to ask anything I was unsure of and talk through what my therapy plan was potentially going to look like and ask for advice, which was given without hesitation. After the sessions, I can speak to a colleague and talk through anything I am unsure of and receive the support I need. Kerri has always been my ‘go to’ as we are in the same room, she is so approachable and has never made me feel like I am asking too many questions. The paperwork to complete was a minefield for me to get over and again Kerri provided that support – and still does, without question.  Over time I built up my confidence through the support from ARCH, seeing different clients and trying different interventions to ensure that the clients are getting what they need from the therapy and I now also complete initial assessments for the clients. ARCH put the trust in you and it pays off.

The type of therapy I do with the children involves lots of different resources such as sand, painting, games, books, figures etc and when I first brought my suitcase in with my different resources it caused a real buzz in the building. All the counsellors were so enthusiastic about it and wanted to see what I had, and this really made me feel part of the team and that I added value to the service and was able to share ideas and suggestions with the team which they have been able to take into their own sessions.

I feel it is a privilege that these children are entrusting me to share the most traumatic event in their lives and I want to ensure I am doing all I can to support the healing process and within ARCH I have the added support from more experienced counsellors to talk through any issues and regular supervision to raise any concerns I have.  In September I am going on to do the adult training routeway and ARCH have said I am able to have a further placement with them which I feel very lucky about.

The team are so warm and nurturing and everyone there including the ISVA’s and LESA’s have included me and offered support and encouragement whenever I have needed it. They make sure it isn’t all work and no play as self-care and being able to switch off is something which is needed and encouraged, and they have regular team building events which I am always included in, unfortunately I just haven’t been able to attend.

Volunteering is something which I hadn’t done prior to starting my training but for the last 3 years I have and I have found it so rewarding and would encourage anyone if you have the time, do it as you wont regret it.