Personal and Professional Development as a Counsellor

Personal and Professional Development as a Counsellor
I have developed for myself a workload with flexibility and many areas of personal interest.

I worked with a suicide prevention agency for several years in the 1970’s. I gained ten years experience supporting their callers.
I became involved in other voluntary groups and several years after working through my own daughter’s death.
I became involved in a local organisation offering one to a bereavement support CHIBS (Calderdale Help in Breavement Service).
I instigated and set up under the auspices of that service support for bereaved parents. Another ten years on I am still involved, but now as a service trainer. Here I gained confidence and sensitivity.
I decided to take more formal training in counselling, and additional courses in HIV and Aids counselling, and counselling following rape and assault. I have trained in defusing and debriefing following critical incidents. Within my role as family health visitor I gained much experience I was part of many families lives, I tried to understand the complexities within those relationships. I ran parenting groups, and I trained in child protection. I ran workshops with women on health topics as well as specialised group’s e.g.- post-natal depression. I began offering one to one support to the women within my case load.
I also began to work part time within an inner city project facilitating counselling skills courses. I witnessed the students growing from within as they learnt new skills and they began to see a future. I did counselling work for social services and the staff of a Family Service Unit.
I ran stress management programmes for trainee GP’s and solicitors practices. I felt excited as I found the work stimulating and rewarding.
I became a ‘Look After Yourself Tutor’ and so was able to teach relaxation techniques.
In 1987 I developed a generic counselling skills service alongside my health visiting practice for adults at the surgery.
I wrote an article published in ‘Primary Care’, a national professional journal and my practice was seen as ‘innovative’ within the NHS.
In 1995 I won the Wyeth Nutrition Health Professional of the Year award. This was a national competition, competing against nursing, community and other health professionals.
I decided to take a Masters Degree in Counselling at the University of Leeds. I wanted to balance my practical experience with academic rigour and analytical understanding. I researched into the gender differences in bereaved parents five to ten years following the death of their child. I used grounded theory methodology. The course was of great personal and professional interest, and although very demanding, I gained a great deal. I met with experienced and confident practitioners, and though I had much to learn, I also found I had a lot to give. I learnt much formal theory and of the rigours of research methodology. I learnt to use Kagan’s IPR (interpersonal Process Recall) to observe skills. I began to understand properly the ‘unspoken relationship’ within counselling.
I have consciously chosen to expose my practice to a variety of supervisors working from different humanistic approaches. This again offering me challenge as a practitioner. I am member of several agency ‘networking’ groups. This gives me the professional contact I need. I read the journals I subscribe to Counselling, BAC – Counselling in Medical Settings Journal, Fertility Counselling – BICA (British Infertility Counselling Association), Primary Care Journal.
I also taught and co-facilitated, the Advanced Diploma in Counselling and Groupwork course at Huddersfield Technical College for four years. I am now well into a second two-year cycle. I find this provides a very good balance for me. Here I observe the students’ awareness growing, and their inner selves emerging.
Lynne Swarbrick.

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