Here at Renew Counselling and Training, we are lucky to have a talented, dedicated team: from our counsellors to our centre managers, every person plays an important role in the work that we do.
In this new series, we’ll be shining a light on fantastic staff members from across the organisation. This week, we’re catching up with Renew Counsellor Chris to find out how she got into counselling, what she loves about her job and her experience of the last few months.
Hello Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. So, how did you get into counselling?
I found a short course in the local community centre in 2002, which introduced me to counselling. I enjoyed the subject a lot and was inspired to study counselling to the next level. People had often said that I was a good listener, so it felt right; especially as I had a young family of 5 girls to take care of at the same time.
After that, I did another course on counselling skills at Basildon College, where I studied 2 courses on working with adolescents; which had both skills practice and counselling theory. I had wanted to help other people, as well as healing myself.
What do you find rewarding about this work?
Nowadays, being able to work with clients and be a part of their process is hugely rewarding. I’ve also learnt a lot about myself along the way.
I often work with couples and adults; so, I get to work with many different kinds of relationships. I start to see some clients connecting the dots and making positive changes in their life: it’s very special to see someone learning to trust themselves to be who they are. Often, clients think we don’t have our own struggles – but some personal struggles have helped me a lot in my work as well.
How do you think Coronavirus will affect people’s mental health in the future?
I think it’s already had a huge impact on people, some of which have probably never felt anxious but now do. Issues like job security, finances and redundancy seem much more common now due to the unpredictability of this situation.
The need for social distancing also takes its toll on relationships: I personally lost my mum and I couldn’t grieve properly – I wasn’t able to do those simple things like being able to pop around for a cup of tea and a chat. Many people are going through painful and lonely times. Thankfully, it’s starting to ease off now, but we don’t know what the future may bring.
I don’t think this will go away any time soon: Coronavirus will probably affect people’s mental health for a while, and more people will need support from places like Renew.
Do you have any tips for managing anxiety during a pandemic?
Always talk to people you trust if you’re anxious about something: even if they can’t do anything, at least you’re talking it through and getting that support.
Sadly, some people might not have someone to talk to, but they can do practical things like exercising, reading, listening to music, spending time with a pet or reaching out to local services like Renew on Zoom.
Do you see counselling becoming more common in the future?
Yes, I think people are understanding how useful counselling is. I hope that it’ll become more accessible: the waiting list for counselling on the NHS is always quite long and many counselling services are at full capacity.
As people become more aware of the importance of mental health services, I hope funding increases so that we can see everyone who needs our help.